We’ve all heard the hand-wringing about the loneliness crisis on the rise in the United States; one in five of us Millennials say they have no friends and over half of us said it’s because we’re shy and so it’s hard to make friends. Amazingly, almost 30% of us said it’s because we “don’t feel like we need friends.” I don’t relate to that last one at all.
Though I do resonate with some other theories about why my generation may be driving the loneliness numbers up—social media over-reliance, the pedestalizing of hustle culture and the rampant advice to cut “toxic” people out of your life (with the permission to define “toxic” however you want), to name a few—there’s one factor I haven’t seen proposed anywhere else: the existence of the mental-health industry.
The damage hustle-culture is doing are obvious by now. Everyone is made to feel that they have no time for anything but work (worse and worse work at that). It isn’t just because the people getting all the positive media attention are people who pat themselves on the back for getting no sleep and spending no time with family (if they have one) but who get a hell of a lot done.
It’s also because late-stage, unbridled capitalism, which I’ve written about before, is getting impossible to keep up with unless you can figure out how to make money in your sleep (which, by the way, you should be shorting yourself on if you want be loved and have your existence validated). Social media over-reliance is more complicated—it depends on how you use it—but generally, it’s mostly fuel for comparison, where everyone else’s filtered, air-brushed, vacation-filled lives filled with perfect partners and amazing careers always crushes your normal, maybe-not-even-that-bad life.
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