Based on our Becoming “Connectable” Episode with Steven Van Cohen
In 2018, statistics found that 73% of Gen Z-ers under the age of 25 feel lonely regularly. There are many reasons why the emerging generation feels most lonely, and they are still the loneliest generation. However, we could all understand why all of us feel a bit more disconnected than we have in years past.
- Dependency Shift- We depended on others a lot before. Now we have Yelp, Google and YouTube to answer any question that is essentially available on demand. It concludes that we’re not depending on each other as much.
- Catch of Convenience- We live in a world of convenience. We’re just not spending as much time rubbing shoulders with one another.
- Busyness- We’re busier than ever, and the busier we are, the less margin we have for connection.
So, those are three really big reasons why all of us are experiencing this, but for the emerging generations, they’ve just grown up in a world with all of this technology at their disposal, so it’s changed the way that they interact.
A lot of emerging professionals’ and younger generation social snack. It creates this false sense that people care about what we’re doing. It’s nice, but we wouldn’t be reporting to people everything we do. You could probably get a little shot of endorphins when you see that people have liked something, but it’s not providing you with what you really need. Liking, posting, or messaging somebody online is like snacking. It’s a bit nourishing at the moment, but it’s not healthy for you. What’s healthy is what we call Pro-social Interaction. Having a meaningful conversation, empathizing with somebody, getting advice, having an actual conversation that goes above and beyond screen communication. If we are social snacking more often than engaging in these pro-social behaviors, we’re just going to naturally feel lonelier.
How would I recognize that I’m feeling lonely?
Well, loneliness is not the absence of people. It’s the absence of connection. So, when it comes to diagnosing loneliness, we have to understand that the connection that we feel comes in different forms. As a result, we are connected to ourselves, our coworkers, spirituality, our work, and our leader. There are all of these connection points, and if we’re starting to feel like, “Hey, you know what? I’m just not as connected as I would like to be.” We have to do a bit of a deeper dive into why that is, and there are all these avenues that play into it.
If you’re looking for loneliness in yourself or others, you’ll want to pay attention to learning and development.
Do you just naturally want to learn and grow and take on your challenges? If not, you might be lonely.
Are you only talking about work? If so, that’s a sign that you’re not satisfied with your personal relationships.
Are you overworking? Because overwork is a way to get away from the reality of the fact that you’re not feeling fully connected.
There are a whole bunch of things to look into. But you have to know where to look and you have to understand that loneliness is a bit elusive, so we have to be paying closer attention to it.
Types of Loneliness
- Chronic Loneliness- Is when every single day you feel very dissatisfied with the relationships and connections in your life. Only 20% of people who feel lonely have chronic loneliness.
- Situational Loneliness- When you feel like there are a lot of unknowns, you don’t know what to do or whom to turn to. When you don’t have the obvious answers in front of you. A lack of clarity is lonesome, and 80% of people who feel lonely have situational loneliness.
When people feel lonely, the same part of the brain that lights up when you register physical pain also feels excluded early. It is really important to understand because your brain when you’re feeling lonely or isolated is essentially sending a fight-or-flight signal. That’s why our brains register that same sensation of physical pain when we feel excluded, because that’s our way of saying “you’re in trouble.” So, it’s a big deal if people are feeling lonely at work.
According to research, a team is only as connected as its loneliest member, so if you have someone on your team who is truly disconnected, it will impact the dynamic between everyone, and it only takes one person on a team who feels that way to essentially derail all of the opportunities that team has at its disposal
While loneliness isn’t a funny or humorous topic, it is such a serious and sensitive topic that we wanted to make it a lot more accessible. Because at the end of the day, loneliness is an emotion that all of us have. It is essentially just a sign that we need to forge a connection.
The fastest way to pull somebody from feeling disconnected back into a connected mindset is to make them feel very valued and very important. Be somebody that can draw a straight line between their worth, significance, and impact. Lastly, make sure that you know what you are saying.