The loneliness epidemic is a growing problem. Over the last five decades, two significant changes have contributed to the loneliness epidemic. They are atomization and social media. You can experience loneliness whether you are single or married. Here is a look at the loneliness epidemic and how atomization and social media increases social isolation today.


The Loneliness Epidemic and Social Media Paradox


Loneliness Epidemic


Loneliness is the cause of the loneliness epidemic. Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated. Loneliness is distress or discomfort resulting from a gap between one’s desires for social connection and actual experiences. Loneliness is isolation when you have no friends or a community, creating a feeling of sadness.

However, it is vital to point out that you can live alone without feeling lonely. There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. More people are experiencing the feelings associated with loneliness and experiencing a gap between what they currently have and what they want in their social life. A large amount of people experiencing loneliness creates the loneliness epidemic.


There are two critical reasons for the rise in loneliness today. The atomization of people has led to increased social isolation and loneliness. Those are two recent essential components of society that have led to people becoming more isolated and less involved in their communities. People rarely know their neighbors today compared to previous generations. Social media has helped drive the loneliness epidemic as people spend more time on their screens than interacting with people in real life. There are also health consequences that come from loneliness. The other reason is the atomization of people, resulting in people becoming more divided today.


Short-Term Loneliness and Chronic Loneliness


There are also different types of loneliness. The first type is short-term loneliness. Short-term loneliness is a brief period of experiencing loneliness. You may experience short-term loneliness when you move because you don’t know anyone in the town or city where you now live.

The second type of loneliness is chronic loneliness or long-term loneliness. Chronic loneliness occurs when you have feelings of loneliness and social isolation for a long time. Chronic loneliness is a constant and unrelenting sense of being alone, separated, or divided from other people in your life. Long-term loneliness cannot connect more deeply with others in your life. Chronic loneliness can also include having deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem, and self-loathing for yourself. Whether it is short-term or chronic loneliness that you may experience, health issues come with loneliness.


Social Isolation and Loneliness


The loneliness epidemic has worsened due to the increased social isolation and loneliness that people now experience. Social isolation also means not having enough people to interact with regularly. It does not matter the amount of social contact you may have in your life, but you can still experience loneliness. Social isolation is when people do not interact with others. As a result of atomization, people have become more socially isolated. Social isolation connects to loneliness, and social isolation leads to mass formation psychosis.

Social isolation and loneliness are problems because people are naturally social creatures. You can improve your mental and physical health by being social and active with your friends, family, or community. As people have become more atomized, social isolation and loneliness have continued to grow.


Since more people have become more disconnected over the last three years due to the pandemic, social isolation and loneliness have risen, affecting young adults. Men often struggle more with isolation and loneliness than women. That is because men are less social compared to women.

Social isolation and loneliness are problems because people are naturally social creatures. You can improve your mental and physical health by being social and active with your friends, family, or community. As people have become more atomized, social isolation and loneliness have continued to grow.


Atomization of People


People are lonelier today. The loneliness epidemic is a result of people spending more time alone. The fragmenting of society has happened over time. People have become more atomized today. Atomization goes back to the mid-1970s when businesses started selling goods and services abroad. Social atomization has happened because society has become more fragmented today. Atomization is the “process by which larger units—compounds or cultures, molecules, or families—are broken down into their subcomponents, their individuality gaining clarity as their relationships disintegrate.” The atomization of society has happened as modern society has become more divided, and politics has become a part of everything. The atomization of society leads to otherizing people who don’t politically agree with you while people remain in their bubbles.

There are several reasons for the atomization of people today. Politics has become more divisive than ever before in history. A recent poll found that Americans have more political division than ever. The second reason is more people are living alone today. They often will not get to know their neighbors since people are working more or busy spending their time making enough to cover living costs. The third reason is people spend more time online, on social media, or on their mobile devices rather than getting to know people in real life. The fourth reason is that more people are working online rather than going into the office to get social interaction with co-workers and colleagues. The fifth reason is that people are spending less time in their communities. When people spend less time in their community, they spend more time alone without interacting with other people.


The political division continues to divide people into groups. The division from identity politics further leads to the atomization of people. Social media also helps people give people content that feeds their personal or political biases. Social media creates an infinite loop where people don’t escape their atomic bubble. It becomes more irrational in a society where people cannot interact with others who do not fit their personal, social, or political atomic bubbles. People can no longer have a rational conversation or debate with someone who disagrees with them on an issue. The atomization of individuals in society is the logical result of people being unable to leave their bubbles.

As people remain in ideological bubbles, atomization leads to social isolation and loneliness. People are interacting less with people in person today. Finding community today has become challenging because everything is political, and people remain in their atomic bubbles. People also spend more time online interacting with people in their virtual atomic bubbles. Those atomic bubbles have created the social media paradox.


Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness on Health

Loneliness negatively affects people’s health. Loneliness harms health as much as obesity or smoking and affects mental health. Some mental health issues that can come from loneliness are depression and anxiety.

The CDC has found adverse effects of social isolation and loneliness on personal health. The National Academy of Sciences found loneliness and social isolation risks in studies. According to the CDC and National Academy of Sciences, health risks from social isolation and loneliness include the following:

• Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes. This risk may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

• Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.

• Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

• Loneliness was associated with higher depression, anxiety, and suicide rates.

• Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly four times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.


Social media also affects personal health, from mental to physical health. The social media paradox is another piece of the loneliness epidemic puzzle.

The Social Media Paradox

The Social Media Paradox is that while people have become more connected than ever before, people have become lonelier. Social media is popular for psychologists to blame for the rise in isolation and atomization of people. People now spend more time online or on their phones than interacting with others in the real world. People spend more time on their phones, which has led to more isolation and loneliness.

Lance Morrow writes in (“An Age of Violated Boundaries“) that “Electronic communication is now replacing human communication.” That certainly seems to be the case. According to a 2019 Digital Report from Hootsuite and We Are Social, people now spend an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes online daily. People now spend half of that nearly seven hours on mobile phones. That means that people spend close to seven hours of their day on the Internet. People spend more of their time online virtually than interacting with people in real life. There is also an adverse health effect that has come from social media.


Social media platforms are addictive. Social media addiction can cause “anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.” It has been found that “excessive social media use can result in fatigue which is linked to high anxiety and depression among adolescents.” Social media can cause mental health to decline by increasing anxiety, depression, fatigue, and physical ailments. Social media can also negatively affect sleep.

The most significant way social media can negatively affect mental health is sleep. It has been found that there is a link between social media use and less sleep. It is vital to get quality sleep and sleep for enough hours each night for personal health. When you don’t get enough sleep, or you have poor quality sleep, it can cause several health conditions:


• Weight gain and obesity

• Multiple sclerosis (MS)

• Increased inflammation

• Reduced mood

• Depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety

• Diabetes

• Reduced cognition and brain health

• Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease

• Heart disease and stroke

• Chronic pain and arthritis



People often sleep with their phones by their bed today, and this causes people to have poorer sleep quality each night. By having their phone by the bed, they will check it if they wake up rather than going back to sleep. In an ironic twist, the social media platforms and apps we use daily make us lonelier and negatively affect our mental and physical health. At the same time, social media can cause mental health and other problems, and loneliness can also cause mental health problems.

Solutions for the Loneliness Epidemic and the Social Media Paradox

There are eight ways for the loneliness epidemic and the social media paradox. The first way is to spend less time on or eliminate social media. The second solution is spending more time with friends, family, and community members. The third step is to find a hobby or something that you are passionate about and find other people interested in that same thing. Meetup is a great place to meet people around an interest or a hobby. The fourth way is to stay busy. The fifth solution is to exercise. The seventh step is to sleep without your phone near you to get a good night’s rest. The eighth solution is to make personal time for yourself. These eight steps will require you to act in your life to break free from social media and your smartphone. You will feel better once you have done it because people are naturally social animals.




Two primary reasons for the loneliness epidemic are the atomization of people and people spending more time on social media. If you feel lonely, the simple solution is to meet with people again and be involved with your community.


What do you think of the loneliness epidemic? Have you experienced social isolation or loneliness? What do you think about the atomization of people over the decades? What are your thoughts on the social media paradox?

Views expressed in this article are the author’s opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of Secure Single. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not investment or financial advice. James Bollen is the author of Thriving Solo: How to Flourish and Live Your Perfect Life (Without A Soulmate). Now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Subscribe to Secure Single’s Substack for free!
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James Bollen is the Founder and President of Secure Single. He is an entrepreneur and a content creator with the goal of helping all different types of singles to learn to thrive as a single person.
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