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loneliness epidemic

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that our kids are on the precipice of a loneliness epidemic.” That’s what Sima Sistani said at the Future of Everything Festival about millennials and Generation Z.

Part of the problem stems from the way social-media channels communication. Instant-messaging services and social-media platforms allow us to delay responding to friends until convenient. For kids that convenience creates a time-lag—a void that feeds anxiety as they await a response. They may send digital-message threads to many sets of friends, and then spend time anxiously glued to their device waiting or perhaps dreading responses.
A survey by Common Sense Media reports that kids are equally concerned about what others post about them, and posts in which they are tagged. 22% of millennials and Generation Z report feeling bad about themselves when nobody comments on, or likes what they post.

The share of high school seniors who report often feeling lonely increased from 26% in 2012 to 39% in 2017, according to Prof Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. An NBC News / Survey Monkey poll (5/22/2019) places much of the blame for teenage mental health challenges on social media.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be herded into asynchronous communication. We text each other back and forth, we ‘like’ a newsfeed, retweet or respond in asynchronous manners. It’s efficient but it’s not relational. “It doesn’t fill your tank in the same way that seeing somebody face to face does,” Ms Sistani said.

How to solve this problem?

Ms Sistani has an app for that. She’s co-founder and CEO of
Houseparty. To bring people back into real time relationships requires real friends and smaller groups. HouseParty’s average user has only 32 friends, versus the hundreds—sometimes thousands that some people boast on platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.

Fewer and smaller is intentional. “We’re trying to bring humanity back into connecting. Last decade, social media was about sharing. The next decade will be about participating.”

Technology is unlikely to heal what technology has corrupted. A video conversation with friends nurtures cramped, screen-size relationships. Human were created to touch and be touched, to be vulnerable and to be present. Tech eliminates touch, airbrushes away vulnerability, and offers only a shallow presence.

Jesus, of course, knew this. Which is why He established the church, the
ekklesia, the gathering, the called and sent. Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am right there with them.” Not via an app but in the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. ~

Dan Nygaard