What happens after work? 

Go home, turn on the TV, or scroll social media. Not to sound like an old man yelling from his front porch, but what happened to spending time with people? What happened to having another place to go that isn’t work, school, or home?

That place is called a third place. The point is to go somewhere you don’t have to be and make connections with people. These places are important for our mental health. They allow casual connections without the burden of work and allow time away from family. They help combat loneliness and are a place to relax (and avoid doom-scrolling).

If third places are so important, why are they so hard to find? Sure, there was a pandemic, but even before that they were disappearing.

Money has been a major factor. The point of a third place is to appeal to everyone, and money can be a limiting factor. Inflation has made doing anything, even watching shows, expensive. People work more hours to pay their bills, meaning they have less free time. Third places are becoming a luxury when they need to remain a necessity.

How does it change? How do people find third places?

For students, finding one can mean joining a club. Outside of that, pay attention to flyers up in cafés and coffee shops, see if there’s something of interest. Ask people at work what they’re passionate about or interested in.

Community cannot exist without connection. Social media can do a little, but it’s not the same as building relationships in person.

There’s no one solution for the slow disappearance of third places, but without a conversation, there will be no solution. Third places are important to individual mental health and the health of a community.

If we want a strong community, we have to put in the work.

From the Hutchinson Collegian Editorial Board.

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