Friends are expensive so I’m ‘quiet quitting’ my social life. You should try it...

·4-min read
Alexandra Jones is quiet quitting her social life (Evening Standard )
Alexandra Jones is quiet quitting her social life (Evening Standard )

It’s hard to say what caused us all to socialise with such rabid ferocity this summer (pandemic-induced existential crisis? War-induced existential crisis?) but phew, I am pooped! And, given the cost-of-living hike, increasingly poor.

It’s not that I’m particularly popular — I have a handful of close friends and a smattering of wider acquaintances —but with the looming threat of an astronomical gas bill, even that tragic number is generating a few too many invites.

Part of the problem is my age — at 34, the majority of my pals now have children. This sudden (and unwelcome) doubling in birthday parties is having a serious impact on my expenditures. You’d think a two-year-old’s birthday party would be cheaper because everyone’s drinking less — but children expect gifts. And even if they don’t, I still have to get the train to Surrey (£13 each way) — where apparently everyone moves to as soon as they get pregnant.

So, with the winter of discontent looming — and my rosé-addled liver heaving and spluttering — I’ve decided to opt out of a social life for the coming season. Bears hibernate, bumblebees die — this autumn/winter I plan to sit at home and count my savings. And if you’re also feeling the pinch, here are some foolproof ways to “quiet quit” everything but Netflix until next spring.

Reply — but very limply

There’s the Dominic Cummings school of thought: make yourself so grindingly unlikeable other people don’t want to spend time with you anyway. The problem with becoming totally odious is that, once alienated, your social circle will be hard to win back (see: Dominic Cummings). I don’t want to be lonely forever. And anyway, the whole ethos of quiet quitting is not to give up entirely but to coast along, doing the bare minimum while getting the same level of reward in return. I want to make little effort and be unavailable — while remaining well-liked.

This means communication channels must remain open but poorly attended. I won’t insult your intelligence by saying “mute WhatsApp” (because, like, obviously) — but I don’t just mean a downturn in the quantity of messages, the quality needs to take a nosedive too. Reply rarely — and when you do, simply send the shrugging emoji. “How did that meeting go?” SHRUG. “Are you free next Friday?” SHRUG. “My grandmother died and I can’t stop crying.” SHRUG.

Your social life will stagnate quicker than you can say Barnard Castle.

Actual picture of me, sitting on a table with my fairy lights on, reading a book (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Actual picture of me, sitting on a table with my fairy lights on, reading a book (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Go vegan — but only some of the time

Obviously, if you’re an actual vegan that’s fine — but a guaranteed way to stop being invited to most dinners is to be a meat eater who selectively (and without warning) decides to “go vegan” — just break out the line “sorry, can I just check that the veg wasn’t cooked in butter?” and watch your calendar free up.

Talk at length about your ‘sobriety journey’

Two months of hashtag sobriety a year (#DryJan and #Stoptober) used to be enough for most — but the state of the NHS has us all futureproofing our health (margarita-induced liver cirrhosis is, I imagine, a horrible way to die). Enter, Sober September. This is the first time by my reckoning we’ve embraced an alcohol break this early in the year — a sign, perhaps, that those lockdown cocktail hours are finally catching-up with us (or that I have a poor, tequila-addled memory — but seriously, Sober September hasn’t always been a thing, has it?)

Regardless, if ever there was a time to lean into sobriety, it’s now — given that we’ll soon need a mortgage-sized loan to fund every night out. You can make your newfound sobriety work doubly hard by talking loudly and at length about your “journey” and how “Seedlip literally tastes the same as real gin anyway”. No one will want to sit next to you at dinner or get trapped with you at the pub, and all those casual invites have dried up, without you having to turn them down or become a flake.

Take to TikTok

If you’re a thirtysomething, there’s no quicker way to kill your social life than by attempting to become famous on TikTok. It’s incredibly tragic! Catch me @ alexliviajones.