I read a new article from The Week titled An Epidemic of Loneliness and it really hit home.
According to the article, 47% of people are lonely. They define loneliness as:
…the emotional state created when people have fewer social contacts and meaningful relationships than they would like — relationships that make them feel known and understood. Essentially, if you feel lonely, you are lonely.
They also reveal that young people are at the highest risk of experiencing loneliness.
Generation Z members ages 18 to 22 and Millennials ages 23 to 37 scored the highest for loneliness [according to the study cited in the article].
I’m *barely* a millennial, at age 37, but I get this. I really do.
The article talks about our heavy reliance on social media for human interaction, and how that is actually creating more loneliness than less. I’m completely guilty of relying on Facebook or texts to keep up with friends, and find this especially true since becoming a parent.
My time is so limited that it’s easier for me to connect with people online, but communicating with people in this way removes important components of human interaction. A long hug from your closest friend, smiling and laughing with someone you care about, uninterrupted conversations (instead of getting distracted during a Facebook chat because you’re scrolling your feed while chatting, or is that only me?).
I also think there’s something else at play here too. We live in a very individualized society. We have a hard time asking other people for help. We believe we are supposed to be completely independent and get through this life on our own. But no one gets through life alone. It really does take a village.
The more focused we are on the individual, on our own lives, the more we forget about community. As Glennon Doyle says, We Belong to Each Other.
Sure, perhaps less of a focus on social media will help us feel less lonely, but opening ourselves up to the realization that we are all human, walking alongside each other through this hard journey called life, lets us remember our shared humanity and may inspire us to look for moments of connection during our every day lives.
We ALL need human connection. Because we’re all human.