Millennials—The Loneliest Generation of All
Why? Asks Youth Culture Expert Dr. Alex McFarland: ‘The Link Between No Friends and No Faith is No Coincidence’
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—A new survey has made the sad discovery that the millennial generation is the loneliest of them all.
According to research by YouGov and reported by the New York Post, 27% of millennials say they have no close friends, a quarter have no acquaintances, and more than 1 in 5—22%—have no friends at all. A third of this generation made up of 20- and 30-somethings also reported feeling lonely “often” or “always.”
Youth culture expert, author and nationally syndicated host Dr. Alex McFarland asks: Why is this generation reporting these feelings of friendlessness and loneliness?
“It’s heartbreaking that such a high number of millennials feel they have no true friends,” said McFarland, who speaks with tens of thousands of young people every year. “We often view this generation as a group of talented, happy, pretty people who are engaged in the culture, politics and social action. But the truth is, they can be isolated and alone. Why? They are bombarded with enough media messages to keep them busy and engaged all day long, while the real-life connections just aren’t there for many.”
By contrast, McFarland noted, just 9% of Baby Boomers and 15% of Generation Xers reported having no friends, while 15% of Boomers and 20% of Xers said they were lonely.
“On the bright side,” the New York Post reported, “close to half—49 percent—of millennials said they had one to four ‘close friends’ and 70 percent said they had at least one ‘best friend.’ Although, based on the other stats, that best friend is possibly their only friend.”
The millennial respondents said it can be difficult to make friends (one-third) because they are shy (more than one-half) or that they don’t need friends (over one-quarter). The survey also referenced a December study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology that links social media and a lower quality of life. “Here’s the bottom line: Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” said study author Melissa Hunt.
“It’s true that millennials and other young people have disconnected themselves from others because of technology,” McFarland added. “They substitute online friends, likes and retweets for real friendships. In times of real trouble or feelings of loneliness, inadequacy or depression, who can they turn to? Real friends or an online list of people they barely know? It’s also worth it to note that millennials are the generation that makes up the biggest segment of ‘nones,’ or those who do not identify with any religion or faith. The link between no friends and no faith is no coincidence.”
Earlier this month, McFarland and other leaders at Truth for a New Generation (TNG) Ministries’ watched young people make long-lasting friendships before their very eyes at an intensive Youth Apologetics Camp, where nearly 100 attendees learned to stand “Unashamed” for Christ and invested five days to “Go Deeper with God.”
McFarland reported that feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive:
- “Now I am ready to stand strong for my beliefs when I head back to school!”
- “I have learned so much about Jesus and His Word. My friends have too, and they’re glad I asked them to come.”
- “This was the best retreat I’ve ever been on; I will definitely come back next year.”
This feedback from students shows what the veteran evangelist has known for years: America’s teens are spiritually hungry, eager to learn the “straight truth” from God’s Word. They want to make a difference in the world, long for older and experienced spiritual mentors, and need to hear about God and country.
CBN and “The 700 Club” will feature a report on Truth for a New Generation camp later this week. On Friday, Aug. 16, the segment will air at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET (depending on region); check local listings for particular areas and time zones. News about the TNG camp will also be featured on “CBN Newswatch” (morning and afternoon programs) as well as the 6 p.m. “Faith Nation” program. Click to view “CBN Newswatch” here or “Faith Nation” here.
Through Truth for a New Generation, made possible in part by Liberty University, McFarland also hosts national and regional conferences that aim to help students, parents, youth pastors and community members lift up this young generation, pray for them and empower them to stand strong in their faith. Two events in Richmond, Virginia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, are planned for this fall. Learn more here.
View the media page for Alex McFarland here. For more information on Dr. Alex McFarland, visit www.AlexMcFarland.com or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @AlexMcFarland. For more on the Truth for a New Generation conferences, visit www.TruthforaNewGeneration.com, or follow TNG on Twitter @TruthforaNewGen or Facebook.