In a recent poll by YouGov, they were surprised to find that young adults surpassed Generation X and Baby Boomers as the loneliest generation. They found that 30% of young adults say they always or often feel lonely and don’t have any “best friends.” While young adulthood is typically seen as a social period of one’s life where people develop meaningful relationships with a variety of people, young adults today are taking longer to commit in relationships and spending less time getting to know new people. Social media may play a role in contributing to high levels of loneliness among their generation.
The Rise of Depersonalized Socializing
Excessive social media use may be one of the reasons young adults are finding it harder to make friends. The most common reason: shyness (53%). Another 27 percent of those who find it difficult to make friends say that they “don’t feel like they need friends.” A similar number (26%) say they don’t have any hobbies or interests that can facilitate friendships. As social media has become a tool to widen social circles and maintain friendships, perceived social isolation has increased due to social comparison and Fear of Missing Out.
Perceived social isolation refers to the discrepancy between what you want from social relationships and your perception of social relationships. While someone may feel like they have a number of followers or Facebook friends, liking someone’s posts is a superficial form of connection. It relays the message that people are seen and heard, but it does not always mean that someone feels emotionally supported. For some people, the ability to talk about their lives on a social media platform and to catch up with others by seeing their posts justifies social withdrawal in person. While someone may feel more lonely, they may not feel as isolated.
The Decline of Unstructured Socializing
With platforms like social media, it is easier to be more aware of events happening in the community and to follow topics one is passionate about. This suggests that people are more likely to align with others based on shared interests. However, people skip levels of intimacy in getting to know other being by being able to see what they share online, often even before meeting in person. This can help people feel more connected, but it also means people are more likely to identify differences between them and other people. In this way, conversations become more closed ended by commenting on a post or connecting over a specific topic.
While unstructured socializing can lead to boredom and risky behaviors, it also allows for spontaneity in relationships and openness to new experiences. People are less likely to get to know acquaintances or people they meet in public if they know that they can reach out to friends over social media instead.
The decline of unstructured socializing is not necessarily a bad thing. While people may be less likely to make plans with others to catch up or get to know them, they are more likely to bond over structured social activities, like going for a hike, going to a concert, or attending an event in the community, which allows them time to unplug from technology. Young adults who struggle with loneliness and social anxiety may benefit from finding healthy social activities that they are passionate about and connecting with others that share similar interests.
Journey Home Young Adult Can Help
Journey Home Young Adult is a transitional living program for young women ages 18-23. This program addresses emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders that young women may face. Common presenting problems include depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, body image issues, ADHD and other learning issues, academic struggles, and low self-esteem. Journey Home creates an environment conducive to healing where young women can learn healthy coping skills while becoming more well-equipped to launch into adulthood. Students leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 855-918-0032.