The Digital era has crept into today’s world and has changed the way the world functions. Solitary confinement has escaped prisons and torture rooms and entered our homes and workplaces, making isolation and loneliness as big a threat to health than obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse and depression. Social apps on smartphones have replaced human interaction, reducing emotion to Facebook posts and Instagram likes that prompt most of us to spend more time peering into their cell phones than interacting with real people. It’s most apparent in public transport, where millions travel together every day, often with the same group of people, in splendid isolation, huddled over phones and tablets and oblivious to the world.
With social media replacing real-time interaction, loneliness will continue to grow. In 2019, India is projected to have at least 258 million social network users, up from around 168 million in 2016. The most popular social networks are YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp, with Facebook alone projected to have 319 million users in India by 2021. But it’s not just the older population that is vulnerable. In most parts of the world, young adults admit to feeling more socially isolated than adults. Younger adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups, It also found that women, single or widowed persons, and people with chronic illness and limited mobility, and people with little trust and sense of belonging to their neighborhood were at higher risk of experiencing loneliness.
Those who get the right balance of sleep, work, socializing with friends and family, and quality “me time” are less likely to be lonely. People who get seven to eight hours of sleep have lower loneliness scores, as do those who exercise regularly. Just as you can be alone in a crowd, you can find a human connection anywhere and everywhere.