I can vouch for the interwoven lifestyle of the Italians. While visiting a friend in the south of Italy some years back I was pleasantly and refreshingly amused that in the apartment building, lived families and friends who at all times during the day kept their doors open and walked into each others’ apartments just like that and chit chatted or even helped themselves to things like milk and eggs from the neighbors’ fridges.
Fast forward to the present times and research shows, loneliness has begun to affect the young adults so intensely that the prime minister of the U.K. decided to set up a special ministry to oversee the problems and come up with possible solutions. Loneliness is affecting the mental health of the young and thus their physical health as well. And why not? Isn’t it often enough we see couples in a restaurant who find the internet more interesting than each other? Recently on a short weekend trip from our hotel balcony we saw a young mother, apparently single, and her little son, perhaps eight years of age, glued to their smartphones during all times of the day.
In the U.K. alone, according to the Office of the National Statistics more than nine million people feel lonely either often or always, while about 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or a relative in more than a month. According to their report 5 percent of those 16 years and older in England reported feeling lonely often or all the time, 16 percent felt lonely some of the time and 24 percent occasionally. The numbers from this one country alone are staggering (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/lonelinesswhatcharacteristicsandcircumstancesareassociatedwithfeelinglonely/2018-04-10)
It was previously thought that it was the older generation that was lonely. This theory has been, to an extent, debunked by the Intergenerational Foundation (http://www.if.org.uk/2018/03/13/many-young-adults-suffer-chronic-loneliness-new-research-suggests/). Their study found that 18 to 34 year olds were more likely to feel lonely than the over 55 age group and often worry about feeling alone or feel depressed because of loneliness and the problem is amplified due to the social media which also contributes to the feeling of inadequacy.
Another major research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/) suggests there is increased morbidity and mortality due to loneliness.
It’s time for young adults to get their act together and start mingling for real rather than remain stuck to the social media and their virtual friends.