You Are Not Alone!
Did you realize that loneliness is at epidemic proportions? (https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/modern-mentality/201807/what-you-need-know-about-the-loneliness-epidemic). Why is this so? In a society infused with social media where people have hundreds of ‘friends’ and Instagram followers people are more lonely than ever. Is this an individual problem or a social problem? Slater tells us that we inadvertently are pursuing loneliness in the way we seek connection. The Pursuit of Loneliness, p. 11 The Great Illusion. Slater suggests our culture is at “breaking point”.
I sat the other day with a manager on a building and construction site who told me he was deeply lonely. He had no satisfaction in his work. He was too busy to see his children and tears came to his eye when he told me his marriage was fragile. I was there to listen for a coaching session about management and here I was listening to a manager trapped in loneliness.
Many times we seek comfort in things that don’t provide fulfillment; alcohol, ‘shits and giggles’, social media friends, work meetings and online activities. However, deep down the loneliness epidemic is something people suffer in silence.
A Lifeline survey found from over 3100 respondents that:
- 60% of respondents said they ‘often feel lonely’
- 71.51% of respondents had never called Lifeline or a similar service (27.97% said they had)
- The top three living arrangements of those surveyed were: 21.55% – lived with spouse or partner; 21.13% – lived with only a spouse or partner; 19.58% – lived alone
53.38% said they have someone to confide in when they feel lonely (33.65% felt they did not, 12.97% were unsure / didn’t know)
82.50% said that the feeling of loneliness is increasing in society. Of these, 44.14% were currently living with a spouse.
The question of ‘Do you feel more lonely when you use social media’ was inconclusive (31.46% said yes, 29.58% said no (the remainder was a mix between ‘other’ and ‘unsure’)
Most of the time people think they are alone and yet are looking in the wrong place for resilience. Many people associate resilience with individual strength. Resilience is often portrayed as an individual problem. It is often framed as the ability of the individual to ‘bounce back’. Social resilience is none of these things. In many cases people are led to look in the wrong place when seeking resilience.
Often organisations have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that sound good but are hardly ever used. The data shows that EAP services are virtually unknown and unused. (https://www.smh.com.au/business/small-business/employee-assistance-programs-endangered-service-20180315-p4z4jw.html). This strategy is quite often the only strategy available.
The truth is if we looked in the right place for social resilience we could find it. Instead we are often told to look within ourselves for solutions to depression, anxiety, stress and for coping strategies. The resilience shows that organisations that project resilience onto individuals don’t do enough for employees and workers in social support structures. Social structures are not about ‘Fitbits’, fruit on the table, social clubs and birthday cake morning teas. Social resilience requires a whole new disposition towards understanding organisations and work. Our language needs to be more about social resilience rather than individual resilience. This is captured in the Ubuntu philosophy as “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_philosophy).
Van Dijck in his book The Culture of Connectivity tells us that we will not find connectivity in social media but in social reality.
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