While some seem to prefer a little isolation, it’s actually not good for you!
Loneliness Linked to Health Concerns
Loneliness has been linked to dozens of different health concerns, from heart problems to lowered immunity, to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Did you know that lonely people have an immune system that works differently from people who have a sense of connection? It’s true!
Sadly, over the past 50 years, the share of U.S. households consisting of one person has more than doubled. A recent Cigna survey revealed that nearly half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone (46%) or left out (47%). Fully 54% said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well.
Social Media to Blame?
Unfortunately, your social media feed may be in part to blame for that increase in loneliness. Phones, tablets, and other wireless technology are all designed to keep us connected, but they may instead be working to keep us apart.
If you use your phone while sitting down at a family dinner, or to fill time when you could be socializing with friends and family, you are losing opportunities to build the relationships you need in order to combat loneliness. Why have a conversation with someone on social media who is a mere acquaintance versus the live human right in front of you?
Social media can also make you feel more lonely than ever, by seeing ‘carefully curated snapshots’ of other people’s lives. What looks like a perfect life to you just doesn’t cover the moment after that perfect shot on the beach when the baby started eating sand, the seagulls started eating your picnic, and the toddler decided to remove all his clothing and go for a walk.
When you see only the good moments and none of the bad, it may seem like everyone else has a better life than you. You might ‘like’ their moment, but at the same time you feel worse about yourself.
Social media has a secondary drawback of making it so you don’t have to socialize. Instead of calling your friend and letting them know you’re thinking about them, you can just send them a text or ‘like’ their picture and boom, socializing done for the day. Is that all humans are worth these days? A click?
Take Back Your Life
This false sense of socializing has come at a penalty—a distinct jump in loneliness among all age groups after cellphones became mainstream in 2010. Fortunately, there are ways to beat it. If you’re feeling lonely, there are ways you can take back your life, without having to completely give up your technology. Here are a few ways you can reach out and get real, powerful, connection with other humans.
Helping another human being will not only make you feel better about yourself, it’ll also make the world a better place. Whether you choose to visit a nursing home and bring some smiles or take food to the homeless, hanging out with real people joined together in the same cause.
Phones and computers are meant to keep us connected, but they shouldn’t be used at the expense of keeping us apart. When you’re at dinner with your family, turn your phone off. When you’re hanging out with friends, even if you’re just chatting, don’t divide your attention between them and your phone. Make an effort. Check out Simon Sinek’s video of how it interrupts real life.
If your friends are just a few miles away, don’t just shoot them a text and leave it at that. Invite them for coffee, or ask when you can stop by. That face to face time will do you more good than 30 minutes of scrolling on Facebook will ever do! Ouch almost feels painful to say that, because it’s true.
Loneliness and Technology – Just Take a Break
Phones and computers are a vital part of our world, but they come at a price. If you feel like you’re getting addicted to your phone, you may need to take a media break and fast from technology for a few days. Once you’ve gotten over the withdrawals, you might discover you don’t miss it as much as you thought.
All of the studies about loneliness show that it’s worth the effort to combat it. Human connection can never be replaced with a glass screen.
More questions? Reach out for help.