Some Nerve: Millennials Being Lonely
“Always lonely, never alone.” The saying tends to incite a smile or head nod from anyone who hasn’t heard it before—it’s a quasi-poetic depiction of a baseline human emotion that most of us feel, but have maybe never fully acknowledged. If we all get lonely, why does sharing that feel so uncomfortable and like, semi pathetic?
Just to add a dash of ~science~, a bunch of smart people did a study all the way back in 2006 that suggested that the number of Americans with no close friends has TRIPLED since 1985. Moreover, almost a quarter of those surveyed reported having 0 confidants, making that number the most common answer. This was well over a decade ago, and I can only imagine that the rise in social media, amongst other factors, has magnified millennial loneliness since.
Maybe our unprecedented level of digital connectivity has made the notion of loneliness less socially acceptable. I mean, no shit. That is, if it ever was chill in the first place. If I can upload a video of myself and instantly see hundreds of views, maybe even a few DMs, shouldn’t I feel loved? My inbox is fuller than Beyoncé’s pregnant ass and, fortunately, I have no shortage of friends and creative collaborators. Most of them are fuckheads who moved to LA, but still, I have my people. I love them and I know they love me. I even have a therapist who I pay to hang out with me. It’s all Gucci.
So if I have all these connections, why do I feel that I stand alone? Perhaps it’s because connections aren’t ~connections~; this is, having relationships doesn’t necessarily translate into the type of emotional bonds and relief we seek in others. Here comes a Carrie Bradshaw quote: “I am someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t live without each other love.” Go the fuck off bitch. I fucking love your crazy ass. So “I couldn’t help but wonder…” are we replacing real, deeply loving relationships with inflated Internet friendships that are more about quantity than quality? Of course we are. Is it why we’re the most isolated generation, despite having more connectivity tools than any other generation? Of course it is.
I can’t tell if the direction I’m taking this shit show in is healthy or quite the contrary. Don’t we refer to these kinds of intense emotional connections as codependency? Whether platonic or romantic, it feels like we spend a boatload of time investing ourselves in one another, attempting to reach this “omg, we’re so inseparable” level while simultaneously spewing mantras about independence and how important it is to just love yourself.
The key, of course, is balance. You can have fake Internet friends in addition to real friends; the problem arises when the time spent cultivating followers encroaches on time spent confiding in real people about real things. What’s more is that loneliness is contagious, which I think means I can say that fighting loneliness will be contagious too. A study from 2009 says that the average person will be lonely during 48 days a year (Jesus Christ that’s a lot), and that having a lonely friend can add a total of 17 days to that annually. That’s pretty crazy. I know STIs less contagious.
So what do you connect with others on? Your STIs. Just kidding. Perhaps the topic of our terrifyingly intense feelings of isolation is enough to kick start some convos. Being alone does make me feel a lil nervous, but knowing I’m not alone in feeling alone helps. Maybe you spend some time building or repairing relationships with your family, if they’re around. Hell, maybe you even talk about it with other people on social media; it’s not the medium that’s the issue in itself, anyway. Just let go and let God and talk to other people about the things you have to get off your chest. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, like admitting to a bunch of readers that you get lonely, you’re probably on the right path. If I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that the world is full of a lot more hatred than I thought. But if I’ve remembered anything important in the last year, it’s that you can also find a lot of love and understanding in the most unassuming places.
Featured image via HBO
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