I can count the number of close friends I have on one hand. Specifically, on three fingers.
It’s both a point of pride and anxiety for me: having three genuine friends is an amazing achievement but, also, why is there only three? Surely I’m not that insufferable that only three people in the whole world can tolerate my company?
But it turns out, I’m one of the lucky few, because having three close friends is more than 25% of millennials. According to research conducted by YouGov, 25% of millennials don’t have a single friend.
Despite the fact that we are constantly connected to each other online, millennials are the loneliest generation. The YouGov study spoke to over 1,200 adults aged 18 and over in the USA and found some interesting and pretty upsetting stats.
30 percent of millennials surveyed said they always or often felt lonely, compared to just 15 percent of baby boomers and 20 percent of Gen X.
According to the study, 22 percent of millennials have no close friends, and 30 percent have no best friends.
Why? The research answers that too: because making friends is hard. Participants in the study discussed the difficulties they faced making friends, which ranged from shyness to a lack of common hobbies and interests.
Over a quarter (27 percent) even said that they “didn’t need friends”.
You know what all of this^ basically tells us? Our parents are more fun and have more active social lives than we do.
The question I want to know the answer to, is how we found ourselves here. Do we (millennials) actually like being alone? Is it self-inflicted or are we the innocent victims of the digital age?
I have no definitive answers to my questions but I do have my own answer: I think we’re both. I think millennials are the victims and the perpetrators.
Let me explain:
Yes, we are the products of a digital world. Social media and mobile phones and technology are the norm for us – they’re the things our whole lives centre around, including our relationships. Technology is convenient but it also enables our lazy tendencies – why make formal plans when we can catch up with a mate through Facebook chat while watching the latest episode of Queer Eye all from the comfort of our own bed?
The digital age has sucked us into its trap – victimised us. But, ultimately, we’re the ones that choose to stay – we exacerbate our own situation. We’re too lazy and comfortable in our safe havens (read: couch) to venture outside and do more social things.
Newsflash: forming friendships without being social is impossible.
But not all hope is lost. While social media and lack of social interaction can worsen our loneliness, inevitable changes in our lifestyle can actually help us make friends. Things like moving homes or getting a new job. Nearly half of YouGov’s surveyed millennials said they’d made a friend at work in the past six months, with 76 percent saying they’d managed to make at least one friend through work or their local community.
The takeaway message here: we need to get out of the house more.
Unless you’re happy with a life of loneliness, Netflix and eating chocolate bars in bed.
On second thought, that doesn’t sound so bad.