Three out of ten Millennials attest to feeling lonely all or most of the time, according to a poll conducted by YouGov, cementing Millennials, people who were born between 1984 and 1994 as the loneliest generation of them all. This is also reflected in number of friends and lack of social skills.
Upon being asked “how often do you feel lonely”, 30% of Millennials responded either “often” or “always”, compared to only 20% of Gen X-ers who responded thusly, and a mere 15% of Baby Boomers who suffer from constant loneliness.
And it’s not just a vague feeling, either. When asked about the number of acquaintances they have, 25% of Millennials put the number at zero, compared to 14% of Gen X-ers, and 9% of Baby Boomers. Likewise, 22% of Millennials said they have no friends, and 30% of them said they don’t have a best friend.
But the issue may run even deeper. According to the poll, 31% of all respondents across the generation reported problems making new friends, which may account for the lack and loneliness that Millennials report.
The reasons the poll respondents gave for their hardships are eye-opening (the question was multiple-choice): 53% blamed bashfulness on their part, 27% said they don’t feel they need any new friends, 26% said they feel their hobbies and interests are not conducive to making new friends, and 20% thought maintaining a bond of friendship was too much work. It is entirely within the realm of reason that for many of the Millennials, social media was a hindrance, and not a facilitator in making new friends, as they make shallow connections with people they will never meet which make them feel they don't need to make new friends.
But not all is dreary, as 42% of participants (including 38% of Millennials) say they made a new friend in the last six months, and looking into the context in which they met their new friends reveals information that could be crucial for those struggling with forming new friendships.
Far and away the most important locus for forging friendships is high school, with 87% of respondents claiming to have made friends during these formative years that have lasted well into adulthood. 76% have made friends at the workplace, 70% have made friends during their college years and 61% have made friends through their local community (neighborhood, apartment building, etc.).
While hobbies may sound like an obvious tactic for making new friends, only 32% said they made friends through social clubs and activities such as game nights and book clubs. 44% have made meaningful connections through their religious congregation, and 38% have made friends by randomly sparking a conversation with a stranger. Surprisingly, 38% have also reported making friends through their children’s activities, apparently by meeting and bonding with fellow parents.