Our Social Capital/Social Justice Conversation Group met this morning and as is typical for our monthly discussions examined the powerful and negative effects caused by social isolation. One of our members shared a recent report done by Cigna that looked at the driving behaviors associated with social isolation. It is a new and fresh analysis culled from interviews with 20,000 Americans.
You can find the results with a google search but wanted to share some of the high points with you in this blog. First and foremost is that social isolation is now deemed a public health crisis and is on the rise. They summarize that loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it more dangerous than obesity. In fact, their study, which used the UCLA Loneliness Scale and was conducted online, found that most Americans are considered lonely. The study revealed:
* Generation Z (adults 18-22) and Millennials (adults 23-37) are lonelier and claim to be in worse health than older generations.
* Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness
* Students have higher loneliness scores than retirees
* There was no major difference between men and women and no major difference between races when it cam to average loneliness scores.
* Individuals who are less lonely are more likely to have regular in-person interactions, are in good overall physical and mental health, have found a balance in their daily activities, and are employed
* When asked how often they feel like no one knows them well, more than half of the respondents (54%) surveyed said they feel that way always or sometimes
* Just under half of all those surveyed report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) and/or feeling left out (47%)
* At least two in five surveyed sometimes or always feel as though they lack companionship (43%), that their relationships are not meaningful (43%), that they are isolated from others (43%), and/or that they are no longer close to anyone (39%).
These are powerful findings, especially in the light of a world where most of us have hundreds of friends or followers on Facebook or Twitter. So, how lonely or isolated are you - and more, what can you do about it?