I was listening to a TED talk on loneliness this week by Baya Voce. She stated that the need for connection is wired in our DNA, and loneliness is a signal to our brain that something is wrong. Baya Voce went as far as declaring loneliness a public health crisis. That’s a strong statement. When you consider the statistics, she may be right.
One in five Americans suffer from loneliness. One in five!
There are about 250 million Americans over the age of sixteen, which means there may be at least 50 million Americans struggling with loneliness. This is shocking, especially when you consider that 50% of the adult population is married.
Loneliness is not a singleness problem. It’s a cultural problem.
Regardless of whether or not you would classify yourself as struggling with loneliness, you feel it. We all feel it. We are more connected than ever through technology, but at the same time we are more disconnected than ever.
Technology has provided the illusion of connectedness.
We are following hundreds of people, and when we click “follow” we hope they return the favor. We know what they are doing on their Saturdays. We know what they eat for lunch, whether or not we care. We may know what their political opinions are. However, we don’t really know them.
We have watered down connection.
An Instagram comment on one of our photos makes our day. A friend who adds us on Facebook brings a smile to our faces. A LinkedIn profile view generates a feeling of value.
But Carter — those things may be true, but I am connected to my coworkers. I am connected to my classmates. I am connected with those in my yoga class. I am connected to my social circle.
The majority of people are either connected to classmates or coworkers. Many people are connected to an organization, religious institution, health and fitness program, or community events. And most people would say they have friends. However, twenty percent of the population is lonely. Why?
Connectedness is thought to be developed through common interest, and though common interest may connect people it isn’t enough to dispel loneliness.
Loneliness is the feeling of isolation.
It is the feeling of walking the road of life alone, and though you see and even interact with others along the road, it seems as if you are heading toward different destinations.
Therefore, the way to combat loneliness is to connect around a common pursuit.
It is walking down the road with people of many different interests, but the same destination. This is the type of community desired by every human heart.
And the challenge is, this type of connectedness requires a commitment by the entire community to walk together.
Loneliness is not a singleness problem.
Loneliness is a community problem.
CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITY THIS SUNDAY