What is digital loneliness, and why Gen Z is the most depressed

Today’s adolescents, born between 1997 and 2012, are, in fact, the first digital generation in the history of humankind. Generation Z, unlike their parents, cannot imagine their life without gadgets, social networks, and the Internet.

But it’s not even about the fact that buzzers are more or less dependent on smartphones and tablets, but about the fact that gadgets have irreversibly influenced modern adolescents’ development, socialization, and psychology.

Roughly speaking, if your parents played war with sticks as a child, then you played the same war game from your teenage years, but on your iPad. The uniqueness of this phenomenon is truly amazing if you think that Generation Z may become the first Homo Digital – a new branch in the evolution of the human race. Still, so far, scientists have dubbed them only Digital Natives.

Constant access to the Internet and the opportunity to chat with friends at any time have led to the fact that modern adolescents have ceased to value live communication and in some way have lost touch with the real world, preferring to get acquainted with the environment through the monitor screen.

Research has shown that Gen Z is most likely to experience depression and acute feelings of loneliness. How is it that zoomers with thousands of followers on Instagram and at least a hundred “friends” online at any time in the vast majority of cases feel incredibly lonely?

Digital life – digital thinking

What is digital loneliness, and why Gen Z is the most depressed
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The presence of any information in the public domain on the Internet could not but affect the zoomers, or, as it is now fashionable to call them, the centenaries. A huge amount of information received and processed, sometimes even against your will, has led to the buzzers being unable to concentrate on one layer of information for a long time.

Scientists have called this phenomenon clip thinking. It works as follows: accustomed to scrolling social networks, centennials have taught their brains to quickly recognize and analyze small data streams, like a post on Instagram or a meme on Twitter. Everything happens; first, you see the picture, if you are interested, you read the text in the picture, and if you are hooked, you read the text below and sometimes look in the comments, and then scroll further and further down.

In a study conducted, scientists found that young people practically do not perceive massive amounts of information, preferring fragmentary passages, preferably containing emoticons, gifs, pictures, and other visual content, and this is not surprising, given that According to the results of the study, the average period of concentration of attention on one object for the respondents was only 8 seconds.

Good or bad – it is not known, on the one hand, taking into account modern trends, it is difficult to imagine future generations piling over ancient tomes in search of knowledge when all the necessary information is on the Internet sites, take it – I don’t want to.

On the other hand, such a backup in the form of a world encyclopedia in your pocket not only makes life much easier but also makes you think: is it really necessary to know and remember everything?

If people no longer need to memorize facts, this can lead to both dullness and progress. The fact is that the human brain’s capabilities are severely limited, even if it is trained diligently, memorizing data streams and excerpts from books. But why do all this if you can google the necessary and leave free space in your head to develop practical skills: social communication, psychology, public speaking – that is, everything that does not fit in words on the pages of a textbook.

Dreamlife within an apartment

What is digital loneliness, and why Gen Z is the most depressed
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The centennials unwittingly changed not only their thinking but also their tastes: centennials strive to live all their lives happily and have a little more fun. They would be called hedonists in ancient Greece, but now, probably, downshifters; in any case, the terminology does not play a role here. The main priorities of zoomers are placed on the satisfaction of aesthetic, spiritual, and social needs: they want to travel, play, have fun, get vivid emotions while remaining in the zone of safety, stability, and comfort.

Therefore, most of the time, they spend peace of mind in their apartment: digital natives communicate, earn and spend online, so give me at least one reason to leave the apartment. They do not seek to drink alcohol, grow up, have s*x; the digital generation has completely different goals. They need to stand out among their peers because with the advent of such a social network as Instagram; it became clear to the whole world that now it will not be difficult for anyone to flaunt their whole life. And the cooler you present your life, the cooler you will become, which means that dream number 1 for most centennials is to reap the fruits of glory, bowing to stories to the applause of millions of subscribers.

Centennials born in the late 2010s and the next generation – alphas, begin to master modern gadgets from about 3 years old. The ability to receive, transmit, and digitally store information in virtually any format has resulted in uncontrolled data traffic that affects the minds of young adolescents daily.

In the process of child development, there is no provision for the flow of a wide variety of information that many schoolchildren consume for hours on social networks. This provokes changes in the nervous system of the younger generation and develops such qualities as fussiness, nervousness, irritability, and, in rare cases, hyperactivity.

Loneliness on the web

What is digital loneliness, and why Gen Z is the most depressed
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This endless desire to be better than others, cooler than others, to have more likes, more comments, and views among their own, by the way, friends, has led to the emergence of a syndrome of “digital loneliness,” which is extremely common among the centennials. Because adolescents themselves have become involved in constant, sometimes involuntary, observation of the life of their friends or idols on social networks, they constantly develop feelings of envy or inferiority.

Your friend’s photo got more likes than yours, and even the guy you like left a smiley face with a twinkle in the comments, and now you are already sitting and worrying about your future together. Digital loneliness, one way or another, penetrates the fragile minds of modern adolescents and, like rust, eats away at self-confidence with the acid of envy and resentment.

Modern technology has left a significant mark on the psyche of the centennial. According to research, the number of adolescents who met with friends every day in 2015 decreased by 40% compared to 2000. Scientists argue that this is directly related to the level of depression: the more a teenager uses social networks, and the less he communicates in real life, the more he is susceptible to depression.

Frequent use of smartphones has also affected the health of digital natives: they sleep worse, are more prone to depression, have an attention deficit, and have an increased tendency to suicidal thoughts. Even though Zoomers spend a lot of time on social media and are pretty close to their parents, this is a very lonely generation.

Centennials still manage to deftly jump from stone to stone and combine being in virtual reality with the outside world. The socialization of Gen Z representatives is taking place under the banner of active growth in the popularity of social networks such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, which allows them to keep up with the times and meet the increasingly growing needs for virtual communication.

Gradually, active users of social networks began to realize their mistake and stopped using Instagram or Twitter for their intended purpose, that is, uploading their photos or leaving stinging comments. In 2020, it turned out that people are increasingly using social networks not for direct communication with each other but for the consumption of content: only 33% of respondents use social networks for communication and correspondence, compared with 42 % in 2017 through research conducted.

For the most part, this reaction of the majority of Gen Z surveyed representatives to social networks is associated with excessive consumption of content in these resources. In addition, social networks raise the standard of living too much, which not all users can meet.

Centennials begin to feel discomfort that their posts are commented on less than those of their acquaintances, they feel sad because of the small number of likes under the photo on Instagram, they feel inferior because they cannot spend time the same way as their loved one blogger, and become insecure because you have to compare yourself with other users constantly.

The grain of the digital era has given modern people amazing digital fruits; however, like the apple of Adam, they can be fraught with the most unexpected pitfalls. Who knows how our children, our grandchildren will think, what life goals they will choose for themselves, what obstacles they will overcome on the way to self-knowledge. We, born at the turn of the millennium, a transitional link, can only carry the cross of digital loneliness, which we have put on our backs, proudly calling it a harbinger of technological progress

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