Social media, what is supposed to be a way to connect people is actually pushing most users into a place of loneliness. Danyal Ali has struggled with sadness and depression due to his solitary lifestyle. However, he feels that the trend of social media has only made his feelings more pronounced.

The goals of social media platforms are to connect many people, however Ali finds that he is putting up a front whenever he shares information.

“You want a sense of encouragement you don’t get on a regular day,” says Ali.

Ali says the sharing of happy images and information does not represent real life and that people only share the good aspects of their lives, which can be exhausting mentally. In fact, according to a student survey, nearly 70 per cent of university students feel lonely.

According to a study from 2017 done by the University of Pittsburgh, the longer someone uses social media, the less they have social interactions in real life. This has negative implications on their mental health.

Gabrielle Nagtalon, a counsellor at Woods Homes, says that loneliness affects more than just your mental health.

Loneliness Project Nicholson LamontInfographic by Shaunda Lamont.

She defines loneliness as, “a general discomfort from lacking in substantial connection.” Moreover, it is increasing with the connectivity online as well as our long life expectancy in the aging population.

“There have been studies that have shown people who suffer from loneliness also suffer from a lot of cardiovascular diseases and they have lower immune systems. So they will get sick more and it aggravates their situation,” says Nagtalon.

Nagtalon also explains that if you are chronically lonely, even if you can surround yourself with many people, you will ultimately still feel lonely. Just the same, some people can choose to be alone but not feel lonely.

The impact of loneliness on Ali’s life has caused him to become distant to family and friends. Even though he wants to enjoy the time they spend together, he feels disconnected to others during social outings.

“Growing up I was really close with my family. However, over the years it affected me a lot and they didn’t understand what I was going through completely. It put a wedge in between us,” says Ali.

“You tend to get addicted to [social media], but it just makes you feel worse at the end of the day,” says Ali.

Ali has tried removing social media apps many times, but he can never shake the feeling that he was missing out, which is why he always ends up re-downloading. “Life then felt painfully empty so I would start another account.”

Nagtalon recommends counselling and for family and friends to be there for those who are chronically lonely. Because each case is different, there is no solid solution or cure to loneliness.

Produced by Alexandra Nicholson and Shaunda Lamont. 

Editor: Mackenzie Jaquish | 

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