Sure, loneliness is a common part of being human, but what’s interesting is that a lot more young folk are reporting ongoing bouts of loneliness compared to the oldies.
How prevalent is said prolonged loneliness in us youngins? Well, this year VicHealth surveyed 1,500 young Victorians between the ages of 12–25, with 50% of the survey pool reporting that they felt lonely sometimes or always.
This mirrors last year’s findings from a survey conducted by US health service company, Cigna. The company surveyed 20,000 Americans as part of a national survey on loneliness, and 50% of the Gen Z segment said they were lonely.
So, whether it be on our soil or across the pond, it’s clear that we’re all lonely as shit, right? Lonelier than ever, even.
In a way, it’s kind of comforting to know that so many of us are feeling so damn lonely, but why is this number so staggering?
I run the risk of sounding predictable – cliché even – by discussing social media’s intrinsic relationship with mental health but, at this point, there’s absolutely no secret that an increase in screen time has lead to a decrease in that face-to-face therapeutic goodness. (It’s like we live in a world where hugs have arguably been swapped out for double taps… and everyone loves a good ol’ hug.)
Both of the above studies even acknowledge social media’s responsibility in inciting feelings of disconnect in us – although both reports make note that social media is not the sole factor, as loneliness is obviously a complex emotion brought on by a multitude of factors.
But what should we do if we’re feeling lonely? How can we stop it? Can we truly ‘switch off’ if we’re always plugged in?
In the latest episode of H R U ?, our brand spankin’ new podcast with yourtown and Kids Helpline, our trusty host Marty Smiley sits down with Kids Helpline specialist Josie, as well as content creator and PEDESTRIAN.TV’s own Louis Hanson, to tackle all things loneliness.
In terms of developing lasting connections in the social media age, Josie suggests,”we’re being marketed people like a commodity.”
“So when you’re getting to know people,” she offers, “You need to think, ‘What’s important to me? Am I fact-checking? Am I getting the real story for who this person is?’ And then thinking about how that lines up for you, and how you’re going to get a meaningful connection from that.”
From online dating and Instagram curation, to muting and phone calls, the trio have a raw chat about all aspects of loneliness. Feast your deserving eyes and ears below.
We’re mid-way through the 8-part series on all things mental health. Feel free to check out the past episodes on talking about mental health, sexual health and financial assistance. Next up, identity.Image: Getty Images / Kornburut Woradee / EyeEm