June 18, 2018
A recent study reveals that loneliness has now reached epidemic levels in the United States. In a survey of over 20,000 adults 18 and over, the numbers are staggering:
- Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
- One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
- Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
- One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).
- Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.
- Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
- Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.
Interestingly, the study notes that “Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).” What is not being said here is that this statistic clearly indicates that increased social media use is affecting everyone, not just heavy users.
I witnessed a perfect example of this last night at a restaurant. At the booth next to my wife and I, a large family had wedged themselves into both sides of the table. Despite this perfect opportunity for a great evening of quality family time, I couldn’t help but notice that large periods of time went by with the family sitting in silence. Why? Because half of the people at the table had their faces buried in their phones, while the other family members stared off into space. Is it any wonder that half of the country is not having any meaningful conversations with anyone when the people they are trying to talk to are staring down at a screen?
This study should be a reminder to believers that we should always be ready and willing to give everyone we encounter our full attention, not just our family and friends. Phones and social media aren’t the only culprits here—often it is our own fear of looking abnormal that keeps us from spending a few moments talking with a homeless person on the street or our Uber driver. We must work on refocusing our priorities to giving everyone in our lives the time and attention they crave and rightfully deserve.
God created us to love and to be loved. We all need to be constantly reminded of the timeless adage: “It is good that you exist.” When we spend quality time with our family members and everyone else the Lord puts in our path, we reaffirm this basic truth and help to spread Christ’s Kingdom.
Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council
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