As a behavioral scientist who studies basic psychological needs, including the need for meaning, I am convinced that our nation’s suicide crisis is in part a crisis of meaninglessness. Fully addressing it will require an understanding of how recent changes in American society — changes in the direction of greater detachment and a weaker sense of belonging — are increasing the risk of existential despair.
All of which brings us to the changing social landscape of America. To bemoan the decline of neighborliness, the shrinking of the family and the diminishing role of religion may sound like the complaining of a crotchety old man. Yet from the standpoint of psychological science, these changes, regardless of what you otherwise think about them, pose serious threats to a life of meaning.
We are less and less connected with each other. This is such a big topic with so many different factors contributing to why people might take their life. I found this article has some good points. What are your thoughts?
As I continue my research into loneliness I find more and more articles talking about social media. We need to make sure we don’t have a knee-jerk reaction and just say all social media is bad. This article has a very balanced perspective.
However, that changed a few years ago, when I started to notice big shifts in teens’ behavior and attitudes in the yearly surveys of 11 million young people that I analyze for my research. Around 2010, teens started to spend their time much differently from the generations that preceded them. Then, around 2012, sudden shifts in their psychological well-being began to appear. Together, these changes pointed to a generational cutoff around 1995, which meant that the kids of this new, post-millennial generation were already in college.
These teens and young adults all have one thing in common: Their childhood or adolescence coincided with the rise of the smartphone.
Of course, correlation doesn’t prove causation: Maybe unhappy people use screen devices more.
To be clear, moderate smartphone and social media use – up to an hour a day – is not linked to mental health issues. However, most teens (and adults) are on their phones much more than that.
In my Loneliness research, the conversation on how Social Media might be affecting a new generation keeps coming up. Here is a great yet scary article. Just because we like social media does not mean it is good for us. Love to hear peoples thoughts on this.
I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.
Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.
The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.
But the allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.
One line in the article stopped me.
So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.
I feel like I could have just pasted the entire article. Just a taste above.
For my research in Loneliness I am posting 1 area in which we experience loneliness per week and see how people feel in each area.
So far we have talked about:
Loneliness in leadership
Loneliness in mental health
Loneliness in the workplace
This week we are looking at Loneliness in the Church. I have had many people message me already that they feel lonely in the Church world today. I have heard people talk about the disconnect between what the Church messages & songs content, and the disconnect with the modern church set up with stadium seating, 2 minute greeting time within the services, etc.
Love to hear any thoughts, quotes, books etc. You can post in the comments on all social media, this blog or send me an email/PM.
Connection isn’t created by the things we go get, it is created by the things we go back to. So my invitation to you is simple. Don’t due something new. Find something you’re already doing with your friends, and families, and your intimate relationships, or within your communities, and do that thing over and over and over again. Do it with intention. Do it during the good times and do it during the mundane. So when the inevitable emotional storms hit you have your ritual to go back to. You have your very own anchor of connection.
Interesting stats on loneliness as a leader. Worth the time to read.
The authors cited survey findings that “half of CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role, and of this group, 61 percent believe it hinders their performance. First-time CEOs are particularly susceptible to this isolation. Nearly 70 percent of first-time CEOs who experience loneliness report that the feelings negatively affect their performance.”
Your first reaction may be: cry me a river.
Corporate CEO behavior and lavish salaries haven’t exactly instilled empathy. Should we care if billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos aren’t reaching the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
I would argue, any leader’s isolation has negative ramifications on others. And it’s not just CEOs who experience this kind of loneliness — it’s team managers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders too. In fact, anyone who finds themselves peerless can feel isolated. This isn’t good for decision-making, culture, or performance.