Psychologist Dr. Will Miller gave a thought-provoking and often hilarious presentation from the Main Stage at the 2013 NAIFA Career Conference and Annual Meeting in San Antonio this morning. Dr. Miller used the concept of “refrigerator rights” – a circle of friends and family close enough to an individual to comfortably go through the person’s refrigerator without asking – to illustrate how Americans have smaller social circles than ever before.
Two aspects of popular culture have transformed Americans:
- We are a highly mobile society. Out of a population of 316 million, 40-45 million Americans move every year. The result is that we’re less rooted in their communities.
- We are media drenched and spend less time interacting face-to-face than ever before. We average 28 hours of television per week and more than 40 hours a week in front of a screen of some kind.
Combined, these factors have made relationships much less stable and made America the most stressed culture on Earth, Dr. Miller said. Some 25 percent of Americans have psychologically diagnosable stress disorders.
These factors come into play for NAIFA members, Dr. Miller said, because their businesses are based on trust and creating and maintaining social connections. When NAIFA members assess clients’ financial wellbeing, they should also encourage people to develop more refrigerator rights relationships.
One person, Dr. Miller said, cannot bear the emotional load of another. It takes a strong social network. Repairing and strengthening social networks helps us as individuals and in business.