Millennials are the loneliest generation in recent history, according to a new survey.
Nearly one third of people between ages 22 and 37 said that they always or often feel lonely in a survey distributed by UK-based research company, YouGov.
Comparatively, 20 percent of gen X-ers and 15 percent of baby boomers said they feel similarly isolated.
Even more depressingly, another 20 percent of millennials said they believe they have no friends – an unprecedented sense of loneliness.
Nearly a third of millennials feel lonely all or almost all the time, according to data from YouGov, and nearly a quarter of the social media generation thinks they have no friends
Psychologists the world over have lamented that we are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic.
Underlying increasing reports of loneliness is a vicious cycle: Isolation takes a toll on mental health, which in turn makes people withdraw, which in turn makes them more isolated and depressed, and so on.
Isolation is blamed, in part, for surging rates of deaths of despair in the US, including fatal drinking, drug overdoses and suicides.
It’s not that previous generations haven’t been isolated. In fact, arguably older people, many of whom grew up and into adulthood with fewer people in physical proximity, had fewer technological ways to connect.
Millennials spent adolescence and, now, young adulthood with the ability not only to call, but to text, email, snap, tweet, post, IM and live stream one another from anywhere on the planet.
Yet members of gen X and baby boomers say they have more friends than millennials believe the have.
When asked how many friends they have, the most common answer in all three generations was between one and four.
But while nearly a quarter of millennial said they don’t have a single friend, just 16 percent of gen X-ers and nine percent of baby boomers said the same.
On the other hand, gen X-ers were nearly twice as likely to have over 50 friends as millennials were.
Just six percent of millennials said they have 50 or more friends, compared to baby boomers, 16 percent of whom boasted such a wide social network.
According to the new survey, friendships aren’t as close as they used to be either
Baby boomers seem to just be a friendly generation. Three percent of 55- to 75-year-olds said they have over 50 close friends.
Less than one percent of millennials felt that they had such warm relationships with so many people.
When it comes to best friends, the vast majority of all friends cap out between one and four.
Even so, 30 percent of millennials responded that they don’t anyone they’d consider a best friend, compared to 27 percent of gen X-ers and a quarter of baby boomers.
The survey didn’t pry into the reasons the loneliest members of each generation felt so isolated.
But psychologists and social scientists are looking closely and wearily at social media, which many think fuel negative comparisons.
That could mean that, even if a millennial does have friends, they may see social media posts from other people, spending time with their ‘friends,’ and start to question the genuine closeness of their own relationships.
Whatever the reason may be, millennials would do well to take a cue from their parents and even grandparents, make some friends and strengthen the social net structures the help to uphold their mental health.