The Lonely Generation

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In the Absence of Trust

Though the importance of personal relationships is pronounced throughout society to the point of ad nauseam, many of us experience a dearth of meaningful connections. While the decline of active friendships among working adults is sometimes parodied, like in this still poignant SNL skit, the topic has become a source of worry for many of us.

Detailed in this research by the Survey Center on American Life, much of today’s workforce lacks strong social ties. Sentiments of loneliness permeated our workplaces and much of society even before 2020’s social distancing policies, illustrated in this pre-pandemic report by Cigna. The need for friendships has become so conspicuous that traditional dating services like Bumble have started matchmaking for friendships, covered in this video below.

Though we make friends with comparative ease when we’re younger, as adults we find it increasingly difficult. We might chalk it up to being busy with work or parenting, but the culprit is trust—rather, the glaring absence of it. Our reluctance to trust others is perhaps the most significant cause of today’s skyrocketing loneliness, depicted here by the World Economic Forum.

The absence of trust can also hinder the matchmaking abilities of dating services, potentially rendering romantic and social pursuits fruitless. Though it’s good sense to not leave ourselves physically vulnerable when interacting with others, social relationships can’t be built without some degree of emotional vulnerability.

The essence of trust is the bedrock for all meaningful connections in our lives, whether with a significant other, a parent or child, or indeed even our teammates and team leaders. A deficit of trust in any of these areas could mean the collapse of the entire relationship. Thus, to strengthen any of these connections—and discover new ones–we must exercise a willingness to trust.

“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
― Haruki Murakami

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