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The Lonely Generation

From JP | October 21, 2013 . By Jonathan Pokluda

Today’s young adults are the most “connected” generation in the history of the world.

We are also among the most lonely, with many having no close relationships of any kind.

Consider some statistics from last Tuesday’s message, which are from a study conducted by Duke University and the University of Arizona:

  • In the last 20 years, the number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled.
  • 24.6% of Americans now report they have no confidants, even counting close family members.
  • Another 19.6% say they have just one confidant.
  • More than half, 53.4%, do not have any confidants outside their family.

A separate Australian study found that young adults were by far the most likely to be lonely, with 30% saying they “frequently feel lonely.” For comparison, among those aged 35-39, only 6% said they often felt lonely.

Lonely in a Crowd

Why is this? Better yet, how is this even possible?

After all, the same age group supposedly averages 328 “friends” on Facebook (honestly, I expected that number to be even higher). Everybody in the world can see exactly what you had for breakfast; that’s pretty personal, right?

And it’s not like Generation Y is composed of a lot of farmers or shepherds who rarely see another human. We live in giant cities, in apartment complexes, and work in office cubicles where the walls between us are only four feet tall. Forget lonely; it seems like we’d have to work really hard to even be alone.

However, our extreme connectedness is part of the reason we lack true connections. You can’t have 328 close friends. It’s impossible. There aren’t enough hours in the day. And in small towns, such as where I grew up, people are more likely to be involved in each other’s lives. It would seem ridiculous in Cuero for someone not to know their next-door neighbor, but in cities like Dallas that is very common.

Add in the fact that statistically Generation Y tends to be rather self-centered and afraid of commitment, and you have a group that tends to find itself alone in a crowd.

Why It Matters

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” – Genesis 2:18b

Loneliness was the first thing in all creation that God saw was “not good.” Seven times in Genesis 1 you have some variation of “And God saw that it was good,” so having Him say that something was “not good” is kind of jarring.

Humans are created to live in relationship with each other. Even people who don’t believe in creation would almost universally agree with the rest of that statement. That’s why people who are already in prison dread the punishment of solitary confinement. It is also why this loneliest generation is statistically also the most depressed, and why we can tend to make some really questionable decisions when we make those decisions alone.

If nobody truly knows you—knows how you are feeling, what you are facing, and what is going on in your life—then that is truly not good.

Leaving Lonely

That is why we talk about community all the time. And if you are at The Porch—or are a young adult in Dallas and can come to The Porch on Tuesdays—then we will make it as easy as possible for you through Open Community Group and our whole community team.

If you are not in Dallas, then get plugged in to a body of believers where you are. Note that we’re not talking about just having friends at church, but the kind of biblical community where you live out the “one anothers” of Scripture. If you don’t see that happening at your church—start it. Be a positive force for change.

If we can help in any way, let us know.

Just curious, in the comments below: how many people truly know you?

– JP

  • george ivan pennington

    even with all your friends and social media of networking try the old method get a pen and write a letter mail it off and expect to hear from that person a month from now love the computer but sometimes too much of a good thing needs to be curtailed. take the tv its now going 24 hours on every channel there was a time 6 am to 1 am next morning then sign off and for others earlier. were educated but becoming stupid at the same time.

  • Stephen Kim

    to be completely honest, I’m an open book… however, I can’t say that more than a handful of people truly know me in full transparency… it’s one thing to be an open book but if I don’t share my story I will delay/prohibit myself from ever making a connection with others… like Kyle shared with us in yesterday’s message, we may never have more than one chance to connect with someone, one chance to truly make a difference, one chance to save another soul… it’s something I’m definitely needing to continue to work on to be more intentional on seeking out others so that we may grow together and grow God’s family… thanks for sharing this with us JP!!!

    “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
    (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

  • Aimee Luallin

    Love this post, JP! I have been traveling the world as a missionary this year with 50 other people, and I have learned that being less connected (via cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has really helped — and at times forced — me to get to know the people I am with. I have learned more about community this year than I ever thought I could know. It is so important. Without it, I would not be the daughter of the King that I was created to be.