'The youngest generation is suffering the greatest deal of loneliness'

Julie Hyman

Loneliness has become a global epidemic, especially acute among younger generations. That’s according to Ford’s 2020 Trends report.

“Loneliness is a trend that we tend to think of associated with older generations, but it’s really the youngest generation that is suffering the greatest deal of loneliness,” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s chief futurist, in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s On the Move. “So 62% of Generation Z’s, those people under 24 years of age, say that they feel lonely often, that’s once a week. And half of those people say that they feel lonely even when they’re surrounded by other people.”

That’s in marked contrast with Baby Boomers: only 29% of them say they’re lonely frequently. So much for “OK, boomer.”

Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance
Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

By country, feelings of at least weekly loneliness were highest among those living in India, at 71%, and lowest in Germany, at 29%. The rate in the U.S. stands at 36%.

Technology’s contribution to loneliness has shown conflicting results: Ford’s report finds that 43% of Gen Z and millennials say social media makes them feel lonely, but 60% of adults globally say “technology helps me avoid feeling lonely.”

Connelly has several suggestions to help lessen loneliness, including increasing exposure to nature; giving more hugs, getting more sleep—and maybe—happily and coincidentally for Ford—taking a drive with others.

“One unexpected correlation: more than half the people we spoke to said that their best conversations take place in the car or when they’re on the road. Almost half also say they use their commute time to catch up with family, friends and loved ones,” Connelly said.

Julie Hyman is the co-anchor of On the Move on Yahoo Finance.

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