In last week’s article on Loneliness – Part 1 – we read that many famous people, and many important Biblical characters – such as King David and the prophet Elijah – suffered loneliness. So who is affected by loneliness today, and why?
An estimated 1 in 10 of us is lonely. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22012957) So if you look around a church congregation of 100 people, there are around 10 feeling lonely right now! In fact 78% of all people in the UK report feeling lonely at times. (http://www.eauk.org/culture/statistics/how-lonely-are-we.cfm)
It seems that in today’s technological world, social media makes us lonely as we become more and more unsociable!
There’s a lot to be said for being able to connect to family through Facebook, Skype, and other social media and a growing number of mobile phone applications, especially when family members are scattered all over the world. But in other respects it has made us less sociable.
People who do not use social media are less able to interact with people who spend their time at home on their mobile phones or their computers instead of going out to meet people face to face. So they become more and more lonely.
Society has become less friendly, and statistics show that over a third of people would not recognise their neighbours in person, and nearly three quarters do now know what their next door neighbours do for a living. Younger people feel significantly more isolated from their neighbours, even when they share a building with others. (Statistics from http://www.independent.co.uk/property/most-people-dont-know-their-neighbours-first-names-8878913.html)
So if younger people are more isolated, surely they make up for that by their increased use of social media? It’s not unusual for some people to have thousands of ‘friends’ on Facebook. However, studies actually show that the use of social media can undermine well-being and increase loneliness! (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2419419/All-lonely-Facebook-friends-Study-shows-social-media-makes-MORE-lonely-unhappy-LESS-sociable.html)
It appears that the more time people spend on Facebook, the less happy they feel!
Another study shows that the loneliest groups in America are college students, followed by divorced people, those on welfare benefits, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and finally, the elderly. (https://bible.org/illustration/loneliness)
What does the Bible say about loneliness and social media? Not a lot, you might think, as social media is a modern day phenomenon. However, even the apostle Paul says:
“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
2 John 1:12
And in Hebrews 10:25 it is written:
“And let us not neglect our meeting together …”
“If we walk in the light … we have fellowship with one another.”
1 John 1:7
So if you are lonely today:
May you walk in the light and have fellowship with one another; may you meet together with others – face to face, and not on Facebook – so that your joy may be complete. In Jesus’ name, Amen.