“We should catch up.” The most blatant lie of a social phrase there is. You spot a mid range acquaintance across the room and they fetter this pleasantry your way. What do you do? You know they have no intention whatsoever of actually catching up, but alas you’re aware of the social dance one must do when negotiating people you may know online but wouldn’t dare to greet in the real world. And that’s one big part of the problem, we’re ever connected but never truly connecting with people.
We’re unendingly online, a bunch that never logs off, yet despite this hyper connectivity a new study says we’re the most isolated compared to other generations. Commissioned by PR consultancy, Red Agency, the aptly named ‘Dis/Connect Study’, illuminated our self-diagnosed addiction to our devices, with 63% of Millennials unwilling or unable to live without their mobile phones. Guilty. That’s compared to 49% of Gen X-ers and a mere 35% of Baby Boomers. So it looks like there’s no end in sight when it comes to out of place comments from your ‘rents on Facebook, sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
An eye-watering 16% of Millennials said they felt lonely every day while 67% admitted to feeling lonely on the regular or at least on occasion. Older respondents failed to register anywhere near the same level of social disconnect with only 7% of 35-49 year olds and 8% of people aged 50+, feeling isolated on a day to day basis.
CEO of Red Agency, James Wright says of the research:
“These feelings of loneliness seem to be very much tied to social media overuse and the ‘hyper-connected’ lifestyles of younger generations,” says Wright.
While social media certainly makes it simpler and swifter to stay in contact, online chit chat just doesn’t equate to real life face to face engagement. That social sport you play or after work catchups are more important than ever for your mental health. With most of our contact happening on Facebook the study revealed, it’s easy to see how tagging your pals in memes day in and day out doesn’t hit the same spot as a good old natter over the phone. Social gatherings ranked after Facebook, texting and phone calls as the preferred connection method, so maybe the reason why you hate people is because you’re largely out of practice.
So if you’re looking to replicate the post Facebook friend cull feeling (goodbye 300 acquaintances), why not get out there and talk to your mates face to face? If not for your own mental health, then for that of your friends. We need to be wary of family and friends offline rather than just throwing a like their way on occasion.
“We’re growing more connected as a society, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re becoming better at connecting with those around us. Social media, email and even our phones are just tools to make staying in touch easier – if they aren’t doing that then maybe we need to reconsider how much we rely on them to stay close.” says Wright of the insight.
So with one finger on that pulse, scrolling endlessly, why not turn your head to the world around you for a moment? We’re certainly not here to lament the online world as a vicious matrix of robots and wires, but perspective can do wonders for making sure you and those you care about have a healthy presence in the real world too.
Image source: Huffington Post, Business Insider.