Aug 17, 2022 - Things to Do

Find a cross-generation friendship in Salt Lake City

A 74-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman sit on a porch swing together.

Erin and her neighbor, Gwynne, chill on a porch swing and talk about bugs. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

A conversation with my neighbor about bugs (more on that later) got me thinking about cross-generational friendships.

Driving the news: I went a long time without many friends outside my own age group.

  • Without religious or family ties in Utah, my social vectors mostly pointed toward fellow Xennials.
  • Then COVID cut me off from my older and younger work friends.

Why it matters: A lot of us are yearning for more intergenerational connections, according to a report this year by the generation-bridging nonprofit Encore.

  • Psychologists say those friendships are important for both young and older people.
  • In 2019, an AARP survey found that cross-generational friendships were particularly likely to be long-lasting and involve frequent in-person contact.

By the numbers: Gen Z and Gen X were most keen to unite with other generations, according to the Encore study.

  • Nearly 90% of Hispanic and Black respondents hoped to work for social progress with people at least 25 years older than themselves.

The good news (for me): COVID actually strengthened friendships within my neighborhood, since it was easy to visit outdoors.

So about those bugs: Yesterday, I, a 43-year-old, was walking with my 74-year-old neighbor, Gwynne, when we began listing the insects we've seen this week.

  • Gwynne is a backyard naturalist, and I'm a gardener, so it's really not weird.
  • But as he described a wasp attacking a katydid, and I shared deets about my latest grasshopper encounter, I realized we probably sounded like a couple of 8-year-olds.

The bottom line: You're never too old or young to have a best bug friend.

  • And bug friends are never too old or young, either.

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