Young people are flocking to big cities more than ever before. Metropolitan areas are the best places to find work, and the hustle and bustle make it hard to ever get bored. But hiding beneath the shiny surface is an ugly truth: it's never easier to feel isolated than when you're surrounded by a million strangers.
The Stats of Big City Dwellers
The hustle and bustle of city life may sound appealing to some. There are better entertainment and dining options, robust opportunities for career advancement, and the excitement of meeting new people. But is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
With hectic lifestyles, coupled with modern technology, the ability to connect has become harder than ever, and those in urbanized communities often suffer most. According to reports by the New York Times, scientists and leaders world-wide are stating we’re in a “loneliness epidemic.” About half of Americans reported feeling lonely, with 13% saying no one in their life knows them very well. The problem became so bad in fact, that the UK’s prime minister appointed a Minister of Loneliness in 2018.
About half of Americans reported feeling lonely, with 13% saying no one in their life knows them very well.
Loneliness does not simply have negative social repercussions, it can present a risk of early death. A study from Brigham Young University in 2015 found that loneliness was the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day - yikes!
The Erosion of Protection
Infrastructures that used to provide a sense of connection, such as religious communities, local town events, and even simply talking to your neighbor have increasingly declined over the past two decades - and the effect is multiplied in large cities. Add to the fact that people are waiting longer to get married and are “free agents” so to speak, the structures of a solid home and community support system are being whittled away.
Better services can be a huge factor in settling in larger towns, and unfortunately, people who are running from negative experiences such as poverty, minority status, or mental health conditions tend to gravitate to the bigger cities. Sadly, big cities don't always have the necessary services because of the large influx of people. This can cause an overload on social and medical provisions, making it difficult to have a good quality of life.
Larger cities also have fewer natural amenities such as parks and trails for health benefits.
Larger cities also have fewer natural amenities such as parks and trails for health benefits, and the time spent commuting and working longer hours takes its toll on those in larger metropolitan areas. Additionally, with more crowding, louder noises, and bright lights, it’s all too easy to become overstimulated. As anyone knows, having excessive outside stimulation can cause sleep disturbances, making it even more difficult to engage in social interactions.
The Cure for Lost Connections
While the possibility of starting over and finding more opportunities in giant meccas like New York City are common lures of the young crowd, poor lifestyle choices such as excessive partying, sleeping around, and spending too much money can result without a firm support system.
Finding true, genuine connections with those who share our values and are loyal is extremely important to combat loneliness in the big city. People who have your back and your best interests in mind are extremely important for anyone to do well in this world, but especially in larger cities where it’s easier to get lost in the shuffle.
Finding true, genuine connections with those who share our values and are loyal is extremely important to combat loneliness in the big city.
Here are some tips to make connections in the city:
Find a common interest group that meets once a week or more: If you enjoy a hobby, try going to sites like Meetup to connect with others who share your love for that activity.
Connect with your loved ones back home: If you left your small town to venture out to a big city, have a weekly FaceTime with your friends and family to prevent the lonely bug.
Get involved in the community: Find a church or volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about - oftentimes, helping others helps us even more!
It can be both exciting and nerve-racking to live in a big city. If you find yourself struggling, reach out and don’t keep to yourself because chances are, there are plenty of others who feel the same way you do - and after all, the more the merrier!