Despite social media, Generation Z, Millennials report feeling lonely

Sharon Jayson:

Austin attracts thousands of newcomers with its thriving economy — heavy on tech, startups and entrepreneurs. And with each year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals — a major interactive, music and film festival opening Friday — some of those visitors also move here. Apple is planning a $1 billion expansion that will make Austin the company’s largest hub outside of California. The median age of Austin residents is 32.7.

But Austin also ranks at the top among cities with lonely folks in a national survey by the global health service company Cigna. Nearly half of the 20,000 adults surveyed last year reported sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent). Generation Z (ages 18-22) and millennials (ages 23-37) rated themselves highest on feelings associated with loneliness.

Loneliness, with its well-documented ill effects on health, has been called an epidemic and a public health threat, especially among the elderly. But now experts are finding that the always connected social media mavens in the country’s younger generations report being lonely.