A staggering 22% of Millennials (aged 23 – 38) surveyed by YouGov say they have no friends, while less than 1/3 say they have at least 10 friends.
Meanwhile, 30% of Millennials say they ‘always or often feel lonely.’
According to the New York Daily News,
Even if younger Americans are overstating their isolation, the jarring numbers reflect long-term rising trends in loneliness. Studies have indicated that loneliness has myriad negative mental and physical health effects.
“Strong social relationships support mental health, and that ties into better immune function, reduced stress and less cardiovascular activation,” Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas, told Time magazine in 2015.
Oddly, 25% of Millennials surveyed also said they don’t have any acquaintances.
Is social media to blame? As the Daily News points out, “a 2018 study out of the University of Pennsylvania linked usage of apps like Facebook and Instagram to social isolation. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” the study’s author, psychologist Melissa Hunt, said at the time.”
Meanwhile, according to Vox, many 30-somethings have a hard time making new friends as they get older, as their lives become busier and friends move away.
More recently, in a 2016 paper, researchers in Germany found a peak of loneliness in a sample of 16,000 Germans at around age 30, another around age 50, and then increasing again at age 80.
“So most of the previous research has focused on old age, and for good reason, because it’s when loneliness levels are high,” said Luhmann, who said the larger point was that “researchers have ignored that loneliness can happen at any time.”
Is Loneliness Hazardous to Your Health?
According to a 2015 meta-review of 70 studies, loneliness has been linked to higher blood pressure and heart disease – and increases risk of dying by 26%.
“As long as we then do what we should do — reconnect with people — then loneliness is a good thing,” said Luhmann, adding “It becomes a bad thing when it becomes chronic. That’s when the health effects kick in. And it becomes harder and harder to connect with other people the longer you are in the state of loneliness.”
Of course, who needs friends when you’ve got $12 avocado toast?
Meanwhile – the next generation has problems of its own: