Social isolation is more prominent now than ever.
It feels eerily quiet in every class I sit in. It feels awkward to approach people. It feels like everyone talks about how they don’t have any friends. People are lonely, and there are many factors to blame for this.
It’s been over two years of on and off quarantines, masks and sickness. Trust me, I have always been an advocate for the safety protocols; they were necessary for everyone’s health, but the social consequences of these decisions can’t be ignored. The pandemic took more than just lives; it took a lot of learning experiences away
The pandemic interrupted education. Instead of learning social skills in a place where they were forced to get along with others, kids and teens learned to be okay with being alone.
They learned how to stay entertained by themselves for a majority of their time. Now, years later, that habit persists, and people don’t feel the need to put themselves out there.
Not to mention the literal quarantine that lasted for months where people could not see their family members and friends. Everyone got a little too comfortable staying in their houses away from other people. Some kids even developed separation anxiety, leaving them unable to make friends on their own.
While stuck at home, kids could no longer rely on their usual coping mechanisms like school to help them if they have a bad living environment. More kids and teens went through traumatic experiences, leaving them with less social skills because trauma rewrites the brain, according to Forbes.
Aside from the pandemic, social media heavily contributes to this ongoing trend of isolation. Humans have an innate desire to make connections. I mean, everyone knows there are safety in numbers, so why are people okay with being alone?
Because social media is replacing the need for face-to-face interactions. People get temporary, false satisfaction from seeing likes on their posts go up, but their lives lack in genuine friendships.
There are also heightened cases of anxiety in this generation. Gen Z is growing up in a heightened state of anxiety and depression, according to Medical News Today. Kids and teens unable to get out of bed do not have the desire to socialize.
One thing necessary for making friends is the environment for it, but where are people supposed to make friends besides school? Now, there is a drive to be seen as independent. There is no longer a drive for maintaining a community.
Adult gatherings rarely occur outside of previous existing friendships and family ties.
I don’t go to church, however, church is a typical place for community meets, but as of 2021, only 22% of Americans attend church every week, according to Statista.
It will take many years to recover from the affects of the pandemic, but because of other issues in our current state, like the increase of social media use, we may never completely recover unless people become more aware of their isolation.
To recover, not only do we have to be aware of it, but we as a whole must be willing to put in the work to change it.