A 2014 study on friendship found that one in four people have zero friends. Not a single person they can call, text or hang out with when they are sad, happy, angry, or afraid. It was one in ten just 20 years ago.
Let’s talk about college specifically – a survey of almost 50,000 college students found that 64% felt “very lonely”. It’s truly an epidemic – did you know that the U.K. has a loneliness minister? The United States has labeled it a public health concern. Depression and suicide rates are rising in tandem with our decline in socialization.
The news is jarring. We are biologically programmed to connect with others, and in spite of Snapchat and Instagram, we are far less connected than ever before.
So what can we do about it?
We can reach out. Connect with the people you care about. Let them know when you need some face time (and not just on the app). It’s mutually beneficial, and hanging out with you may be just what you both needed.
We can acknowledge it. Have conversations about loneliness – in your chapters, your organizations and within your student body. More than 1 in 2 students have felt this way, and they need to realize that they are far from alone in their feelings.
We can increase our circles. People skills are on the decline, but those skills can be learned. Focus on upgrading your relationship building skills and expand your network. The more people you connect with, the more likely you will create new and ever-important friendships.
It takes one “hello!”
It takes one authentic “how are you?”
It takes one “I hear you.”
You can make all the difference – in your life, and the lives of others.