Let’s start by pretending. Would that be okay?
Heck, maybe you don’t even have to imagine that. Maybe you’re there right now, in fact.
So let’s keep going. You’re tucked away in your life, and the door bell rings. You get up to answer it, and surprise. It’s me!
Hi! How are you? What’s up? Who are you, again?
We exchange greetings, catch up, chat about work, the family, our latest adventures. You know, all the things people talk about.
And right in the midst of our conversation, I get up and mosey over to your kitchen. Open the refrigerator. And survey its contents while hanging on the door.
Wow, I’m famished. Thirsty too.
So I pull out those delicious leftovers you were planning to eat for lunch tomorrow, and while I’m at it, that bottle of imported beer looks too good to pass up. Yum!
Back to right now.
OK, we’ve stopped pretending. And I’m curious. What did you think of my antics? Wasn’t it a bit bad-mannered of me to raid your fridge like that? Who do I think I am? As a matter of fact, how cheeky of me!
Yes, it would be perfectly normal for you to react that way, because we don’t really know each other. At least, not in a flesh and blood way.
But the thing is, if we did know each other, and I sauntered into your home and poked my nose into your Frigidaire or Maytag or whatever brand you favor, it would actually be a good thing. Because it would mean that we share refrigerator rights.
In case you haven’t heard it before, the term was coined by Will Miller and Glenn Sparks, in the book of the same name. And the moment I learned of it, I felt a pang. A deep emotional response. I knew exactly what they were talking about, and I remembered how much I longed for such richly sustaining friendships. Those that go beyond casual acquaintances, and become family.
Turns out that in this day and age of scattered extended families, we need refrigerator rights relationships more than ever.
But the truth is, in the rush and roar of the 21st century, I don’t have many of them in my life. Neither do most of the other people I know, including clients. And it’s a wistful story I’ve listened to many times: the yearning to connect more often in real space and real time. To talk about real things.
It’s well-traveled territory to identify the things that get in the way of refrigerator rights relationships: 50-plus hour work weeks, long commutes, social media, frequent relocations, the internet, fatigue, and suburbia, to name a few. And of course, good old American individualism. So if you’re in another country, you may have a better chance at developing such friendships.
What the future holds
We all know how important it is to have strong social support systems. And there’s actually science to back this up. Apparently almost half of the brain’s cerebral cortex is devoted to visual input. This is the part of the brain where social cues are processed.
So even though we may think we’re getting our social/connection needs met through the wonders of technology, our brains our actually starving for face time.
Last week, when I wrote about The Art of Friendship, several people left comments about how challenging it can be these days to create friendships that include more face time.
I certainly don’t have an answer for it. Maybe just a plea today: if you’re not doing so already, go out and connect. Nurture relationships in real space and real time. And don’t be surprised when you find people opening your refrigerator door.
Oh, by the way, if you’re ever in my neighborhood, drop by. You can raid my fridge any time.
Now, about your own refrigerator rights relationships
How do they enhance your life?
Would you like to have more?
And if I were to look in your fridge right now, what scrumptious delight would be waiting for me?