Earlier this month, Cigna, a global health company, released data it received based on a poll it conducted in February and March this year.
Cigna wanted to find out how lonely people were and asked 20,000 Americans over the age of 18 a series of questions based on a 20-question loneliness scale developed by UCLA. This included questions asking if they had anyone to turn to or if the respondents felt like they were part of a group of friends.
Based on their response, they were ranked between 20 (least lonely) to 80 (most lonely).
When analyzing by age groups, Cigna discovered that the loneliest people on the planet were those referred to a Generation Z (between the ages of 18 to 22) who ranked 48. The least lonely were those over the age of 72 who scored 39.
As an age-group, Generation Z was on par with another group, single parents, who despite having children similarly scored 48 in terms of loneliness.
The average score for all Americans surveyed was 44 and revealed as a society, Americans are trending towards becoming more isolated.
Other disturbing results showed:
- 47% of respondents said at times they felt left out;
- 46% stated that they “sometimes or always” felt alone;
- 20% of people said they rarely felt close to people;
- 43% said they did not have a meaningful relationship;
- 43% said they felt isolated;
- 18% said they had no one to talk to; and
- 47% said they did not have meaningful interactions on a daily basis.
Loneliness is becoming a problem in America and can lead to health issues. Some studies have equated loneliness with smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In its release, Cigna noted that by its own admission Generation Z is one of the least healthy groups in America.
In his article, The Loneliest Generation, Dr. Jame Emery White said that Generation Z’s reliance on social media may have given the group a false sense of community. He writes:
“But according to Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State University, social media can provide a false sense of relief. They attempt socialization on computers in their homes, leading them away from face-to-face interaction. ‘I have students who tell me they have 500 friends,’ he noted, ‘but when they’re in need, there’s no one.'”
The Bible and church is all about community and belonging. In Galatians, the Apostle Paul encourages believers to: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NASV). In the previous verse, Paul describes these burdens as sins or trespasses.
James writes that we are to live in community where we confess our faults to one another.
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16 NASV)
The Greek word “hamartias” includes sin, but can also refer to weaknesses, failures or faults. It is a community where we are close enough that we aren’t afraid of revealing our darkest secrets.
And it is through this honest confession and prayer that we find healing. The prayer described here is not alone in our closet, but together as a group of friends praying for one another.
It is such a contrast to social media sites such as Facebook where people only share their best and funniest moments.
I remember reading a story several years back about a woman whose friend had recently died. The pastor was consoling her and stated that she would certainly miss her friend. The woman replied that she was an acquaintance, not a friend.
The woman said we laughed together, but we never cried together.
- Shock Poll: Loneliness at ‘epidemic’ levels in the U.S. and youth are more affected than the elderly: Breaking Christian News
- The Loneliest generation: Church Culture
- Post-millennials are the loneliest generation, study says: New York Post