Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the generation categorised as being born between 1981-1996, making them currently between the ages of 24-39. According to YouGov, 3 in 10 Millennials say they always, or often, feel lonely- making them the loneliest generation. This is an upsetting statistic- human beings need human connections in order to survive. So why would this be the case? What big global shift has meant that Millennials have become so disconnected from people? The answer is… technology.
As someone who grew up with the internet and advanced technology, I cannot imagine my life without it. It makes me feel closer to people, consistently receiving updates about my friends’ lives, being able to Snapchat friends I have not seen in a long time. However, I have never known anything different. Since I was able to form my own friendships, I have had access to the internet. I do not have an understanding of ‘the good old days’ when people interacted in person rather than over a screen. The majority of the millennial generation do. Is it this comparison that makes them feel lonelier? Or is it the long lasting effects of the internet and social media?
The same YouGov study only compares the Millennial data with data from Generation X and the Baby Boomers, both of which are predecessors to the former. This means that their conclusion is millennial’s are the loneliest generation so far. The expanding feeling of loneliness across the human race could affect each new generation, getting worse and worse as time goes on. G.Hunt (PhD) says that “using less social media than you normally would lead to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness.” This means of course Millennial would be the most lonely, they have experienced the biggest change in society impacted by social media. The generations before them do not have the same connection to the internet that they do. In the modern world, the internet is necessary to build a career, to communicate with friends, and, more recently, to attend work or education. Socially, keeping up with those close to you is important in terms of not feeling lonely. But if you are constantly bombarded with highlights of people’s lives online, comparing your life to them might make you feel more alone than ever.
Social media portrays a reality that does not exist. Nobody is ‘living their best life’ all day everyday- we are all human. We all have down-days, we all have flaws and problems. In a world affected by COVID-19, checking in on your friends and family is more important than ever. If Millennial truly are the loneliest generation, and if this pattern continues into Generation Z and beyond, we must all remember to step back from our phones. Do not rely on social media for the only interaction you have with other people. Check in on your friends, not only online, but in real life. Reach out to people for support when you need it, and maybe, if we all work together, the Millennials will not be as lonely anymore.