For a ‘connected’ generation, why are so many so lonely?

Ethen Smith, Staff Writer

Today’s teens can be defined by one word: connected.  Presently, social media is becoming an increasingly integral part of life, and it’s easy to argue that Generation Z is the most connected generation to date.

In an age where opinions, greetings, pictures, songs and statuses can be shared with a few keystrokes and clicks, one would assume that unity permeates among peers.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true.  

Teenagers, especially girls, are experiencing an increase in loneliness and depression.  

“One-in-five teenage girls – or nearly 2.4 million – had experienced at least one major depressive episode…over the past year in 2017,”  Pew Research Center, an organization that provides research on various social issues, said.

Of course, the phenomenon seems contradictory on the surface; if everyone is in-touch with each other, why is isolation becoming commonplace? 

As the culture of connection grows, the feeling of loneliness is emphasized.  An example is the phenomenon of “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out.”  When subjected to a relentless stream of pictures, stories and snaps of their peers engaged in parties and social gatherings, teenagers often feel left out. 

This loneliness is then emphasized by a culture that promotes unity and relationships, both romantic and platonic, all through a digital screen, and those staring at the screen are forced to live vicariously through the pictures, all from the comfort of their bedrooms.

“[During] Saturday nights I’m usually at home spending time with my family,” Senior Jayden Reyes said.  “Occasionally I’ll go out, but it is rare.”

With teens preferring to stay in with family on the weekends, they fail to connect with friends outside of school.

Of course, loneliness is not the only issue with social media, as many sites also serve as a tool to hack away at users’ self confidence: 

“The internet gives us access to everyone else on the internet.” Senior Jordan Salon said. “For some, it might make them more insecure…like [they’re] not enough.”  

With the vast number of users and popular social media influencers on these platforms, it’s easy for someone to compare their figures with somebody else’s.

Insecurity, loneliness and depression take their toll on thease teens who put on a happy face for those watching their feed.  Instead of appreciating themselves, many teenagers seek validation through the number of likes on their posts.  Instead of spending time with friends, teens tend to spend their Saturdays in their bedrooms watching Netflix.

Although fighting through these afflictions is a long-lasting battle, there are always ways to subvert the effects of depression and loneliness.  

 “Studies show that aerobic exercise can help treat mild depression because it increases endorphins and stimulates norepinephrine…Psychotherapy (or talk therapy) has an excellent track record of helping people with depressive disorder,” the National Alliance on Mental Health said.

Of course, methods of talk therapy, supplements, and exercise seem cliched, but the repetition of methods such as these have connections to suppressing depression.  With support from family and friends, along with personal steps to ease depression, most people can and do get better.