Isn’t it unusual that a world more virtually connected than ever before is also the loneliest? Loneliness is defined as a complex and unpleasant emotion in response to isolation. Many times, loneliness includes feelings of anxiety and a lack of connection or communication with other beings. The ironic thing about loneliness is that is can often be felt even when surrounded by other people. So, what do we really know about loneliness? Why is it becoming more rampant than ever?
The Latest Research
A recent study published by Dr. Timothy Matthews from King’s College in London discovered that persistent complaints of loneliness portray an deep struggle that can bleed into mental health, family, career, and many other facets of life. Other studies have shown that young people from age 16-24 are more likely to struggle with loneliness than any other adult age group. This goes to show that lonely millennials are twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation.
The Impact of Social Media on Loneliness
Those who reported spending more than 2 hours a day on social media had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who spent half an hour or less. The cause cannot be completely identified, but the underlying theme shows a correlation between social media use and isolation. The more isolated we are, the more we use social media. Also, the more we use social media, the more isolated we seem to become. It’s a vicious cycle!
So, What Do We Do About This?
There are a variety of steps one can take to combat loneliness. The first would be to limit social media alerts on your phone or other electronic devices. One would also benefit by limiting social media platform use to 2 hours or less a day.
Another component to reduce loneliness is face-to-face contact. Talking to a coworker in person instead of sending them a message would be a great way to make that one-on-one personal contact that a smart device cannot offer. Seeking out more face-to-face contact is key to breaking the cycle of loneliness. We need to see and speak with other people in person, not just through virtual means.
For more information on loneliness, or any other mental health topic, we are here for you! Please reach out to us at 832.421.8714.