LOS ANGELES – Cat Moore is no stranger to loneliness. She says she spent the first 24 years of her life experiencing it, and now as Director of Belonging at University of Southern California she teaches a class called CLICK to help others connect.
Moore says the class grew out of the time she used to spend at a local Starbucks where she had inadvertently started an impromptu social group.
“Not just lonely people, but people who were single moms and people experiencing homelessness. They were all coming through that Starbucks and waiting in line to sit down and be listened to,” said Moore.
Seeing a need to address challenges of human social connection in the modern age, Moore developed CLICK, a non-credit course offered to students on the USC campus. Her most recent group was made up of some 20 students from all walks of life, looking to develop more meaningful relationships with friends, family and colleagues.
“I think that we don't have a good language for what we're even experiencing when we're lonely,” said Moore. “Really, [loneliness] is something that is woven throughout the human condition, and that everyone will experience on some level at some point.”
Moore explained that CLICK is an acronym for the elements required to build more meaningful relationships: Connecting, Listening, Investigation, Communicating, and Kindness.
“…the 'K' is for Keeping in touch. You can meet someone, have a great connection, but if no one follows up, it's not just going to magically continue,” she said.
Loneliness can be commonplace on college campuses and now under a pandemic, the forced isolation can make matters worse.
Class member Eden Parish, a master’s student at USC, says she was surprised at how effective CLICK was.
“Over the five weeks, we really bonded,” said Parish. “Through that bonding experience, it really is about letting your authenticity shine through.”
Parish said the thing she will carry away most, “is seeing how deep I can take the superficial facade of some of the relationships that you have and go deeper.”