We all are guilty of that Instagram scrolling session, which starts from a 5 minute one and in no time converts into an hour-long abyss of liking memes, factoids, funny videos and whatnot. During that, we also end up liking or sharing that one emo post that perfectly seems to describe how we feel. The post goes on to say how it's all grim and sombre, how loneliness is the primary emotion plaguing you right now, and at that moment, that post is the only thing that feels real. The worrying trend is, is that it's actually true.
A new research by YouGov has discovered that millennials are in fact the loneliest generation today. The study found out that 30% of the millennials always or often felt lonely. This number was starkly higher than the baby boomers and Gen X, where 15% and 20% of them felt the same respectively. Baby Boomers are people who were born in the 1950-1960s. So the next time your parents ask you how to post on Instagram or try to add you on Facebook, keep in mind that they are essentially more social than you millennials.
You could make the argument that there will always be a set of people who're feeling isolated at a particular point of time, and it's perfectly alright to feel that way( Mental health is important guys). But it certainly gets a bit more worrying when more numbers from the study come in. 1 in 4 millennials says that they don't have someone they can call even an acquaintance. 22 % say that they have no close friends, while the most striking one being that 3 in 10 people said that they have no best friends. Imagine if Joey didn't have Chandler, Ted didn't have Marshal and Woody didn't have Buzz. For all the good and the bad, best friends are important.
While the study is on paper, the ground reality echoes similar sentiments. When Yash, a 20-year-old college student was told about the findings of the study, he said "We live in a world where we prefer to interact online than in real life, text over call and play online rather than outdoors. This was bound to happen, and it's not really surprising." Faiz, a 21-year-old student who is also a slam poet makes the same case "I myself have been guilty of looking people up online before talking to them in real life. If we keep on replacing the real with the virtual, eventually we all will end up in just a room with ourselves and no one else."
However, not all agree with this. Riddhi (19) says, "I feel we as a generation are the most open and welcoming. We have no inhibitions against talking how we feel and take the issue of mental health seriously. I personally make it a point to talk to my friends whenever I sense something is wrong, shouldn't that actually help someone feel better whenever they feel lonely?"
While the study did not indicate any metrics which explained this perpetual state of desolation, there are several theories to explain the phenomenon. We're at a point of time when we're more connected than ever, and social media definitely has played an important role in that. However, for all its virtues, the effect it has on mental health is well documented. The effect of the platforms is such that Instagram is even trying out a feature where it can hide the number of likes a post gets, as it was leading to unhealthy competitive and social standards.
The reason we feel lonely may also be liked to our cultural dynamics. Dr Raghu Krishnamurthy, consultant psychiatrist at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals, Bengaluru says "In a country that is already a minefield of mental health concerns, awareness about how loneliness is directly connected to depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies is abysmally low. When children grow up in this paradox where they prefer isolation (while subconsciously seeking company), it leads to emotional hindrances."
So what can be done to combat this silently growing epidemic? The simplest thing to do is to talk. Talk about your issues, about how you feel, what works for you and what does not. When the entire conversation about feeling loneliness is normalized and we as a society move away from the stigma surrounding mental health, it will lead to discussions that can actually lead to one tackling their feeling of loneliness effectively.
And if all else fails, you can always go up to your best bud and chill with him or her. Because if that worked for Joey, it'll surely work for you as well.