For many years loneliness was the scourge of the older generation. Those who were widowed, infirm with grown up children who had busy lives and little time for them.
However, more and more I am hearing about younger people- teenagers, those in their 20s,30s,40s,50s feeling isolated and lonely.
In my view there are a number of factors contributing to loneliness amongst younger people:
Everything is done online; from food shopping to dating, working to communicating. How can people form real life attachment to things that are carried out online? We are not meeting one of the basic survival needs around social interaction and connection. Online activity is great but it's one dimensional and doesn’t replace the need to see, hear, touch, smell, taste. All our senses should be met on a regular basis to please the brain. Lack of physical communication throws the brain into latent mode and potential depression.
Lack of community; this is particularly clear in suburban areas where people no longer work and live in the same place. For many, a home is where they sleep and rest after working. The lack of local shops and more of a push towards out of town retail outlets and restaurants encourages people not to meet up at the local or gain a sense of community.
Lack of social interaction; We have got into the annoying habit of saying 'I was to talking to.....' . When what we actually mean is 'I was texting, messaging, WhatsApping.....'. I say this a lot. It's one dimensional contact and we fool ourselves that we have an emotional attachment to a text.
Going out is expensive; people stay in. That doesn’t work if your friends live miles away from you and you live alone.
Family, in a lot of instances are not nearby; People move away to university or to get work and as a result don’t have family close by. Family are the original forms of social bonding. The rise of divorce and mixed families mean parents often find themselves without their children for periods of time.
My loneliness wasn’t about lack of social interaction. It was about not doing the things I enjoyed. I was doing things the old me enjoyed or doing what my friends (who I love dearly but are different to me) enjoyed. I wasn’t swimming in a river with my people.
I have recently discovered ‘Meet up’.
It’s an app of local activities that you can tailor to your interests. You can meet with like minded strangers on a regular basis to run, walk, go to the pub, act, sing, do gaming, fishing, yoga, photography, pray you name it, there's probably a meet up club on there.
It's a global platform like Airbnb or the dating apps and an amazing tool if you are new to an area or work away a lot.