With the rapid rise in technology over the last few decades, global communication has become simpler, faster and more accessible than ever before, so it would seem that loneliness would be a thing of the past, but research shows that we’re becoming lonelier than ever.
In the US, nearly half of Americans report they often feel lonely, while in Australia a staggering 60 per cent say the same and the problem has become so bad in the UK that a minister for loneliness was appointed in January 2018. Crazy stats, right?
HOW CAN THIS BE?
Our new found obsession for online social belonging may be one of the biggest causes for us feeling so lonely. A study conducted in 2017 showed that too many hours spent on social media was linked to increased feelings of social isolation.
We’re living in an age where we’re so consumed by the ego boost and instant gratification of the unknown ‘likes’, ‘follows’, ‘shares’, ‘tweets’, ‘views’, ‘subscribes’ and what ever the next ‘trend’ is that we strive to keep up with the facade of a perfect life on social media, and as a result our close relationships are suffering less face to face interaction, becoming more superficial, less fulfilling and feeling meaningless.
WHAT IS LONELINESS?
A myth about loneliness is that it is typically associated with being alone, but you could be surrounded by ten or more friends and still feel lonely. Why? This is because loneliness is about the quality rather than the quantity of relationships that we have.
Studies on loneliness in America and Australia revealed that more than one fifth of people reported never feeling close to people, not having someone to talk to or not having anyone to turn to for help. Although our friend counts may be going up our ability to express our true emotions and share real problems within our relationships are diminishing.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
I’m not suggesting that we remove online social interaction from our lives all together, but limiting our screen time when we’re with family and friends can greatly benefit us. We can become present to the conversations happening around us and give our full, undivided attention to the people in front of us by talking, listening and contributing to real issues with those we love most.
By simply taking an interest and participating, we can create good old fashioned face to face bonds that make us and those around us feel more valued and connected, reducing the tragic, stone cold feeling of loneliness.