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Now there’s a loneliness epidemic.
With the US population numbering at least 336 million, you’d think we wouldn’t suffer from a lack of people in our lives. Nonetheless, a recent survey found that the majority of Americans have fewer friends than they did three decades ago.
“Signs suggest that the role of friends in American social life is experiencing a pronounced decline,” according to a May study published by the Survey Center on American Life. Study authors revealed that “Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support.”
The alarming findings were based on interviews with 2,019 Americans, aged 18 and up, from all 50 states as well as Washington, DC, the Independent reported.
Per the shocking study, nearly half of all Americans — 49% — reported having fewer than three close friends. This marks a nearly twofold increase from 1990, when less than one-third (27%) of Americans had three or fewer close friends.
During that year, 33% reported having 10 or more close friends, compared to just 13% today.
If that wasn’t bad enough, a mind-boggling 12% of interviewees claimed to have zero friends today, four times as many as 30 years ago, per the survey.
Naturally, the COVID-19 lockdown is partially to blame for today’s loneliness epidemic. According to the survey, “nearly half (47%) of Americans report having lost touch with at least a few friends over the past 12 months.”
Women were most affected by quarantine with almost 59% claiming that they’d fell out of contact with at least a couple of buddies during that time.
However, the pandemic isn’t the only reason the US is stuck in the no-friend zone. Other factors include the fact that Americans are marrying later than before and travel more, two trends that are linked to self-isolation, per the study. Modern Americans are also spending twice as much time with their kids than previous generations did, which has relegated other relationships to the sidelines.
Throw in the fact that free time is increasingly consumed by work for many Americans, and it’s no wonder that we’re experiencing a bestie deficiency.
The quality of companionships is also on the decline as young Americans, especially males, are increasingly turning to family over friends in times of need. Per the findings, a whopping “36% of young men” reach out to their parents first when dealing with a personal problem, compared to just 17% in 1990.
Our increasingly digitized society could also be to blame for the friendlessness plague, as studies have shown that social media use can cause feelings of isolation.
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