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Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Hi everyone,

 

I am wondering if anyone is experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation after leaving/finishing high school or moving from an area where they had friends from school? This is something probably experienced by many people, some people leave school in year 10 and start working whilst their friends continue on with school and may not have the same free hours as them, or someone may be the only person in a group of friends continuing on with school whilst their friends have left and they find it hard to find time to spend together. Another example, which I am experiencing myself, is moving away from home to attend university.

 

I consider myself to have be lucky in this area, I have supportive parents that I get on with well and have friends from school and several jobs I have had over the last few years. However, they all live in my old home city and I know few people in my new city where I attend university.

 

I find that I am lonely at times because the friends I have made here in my classes have quite busy lives and have their own close social network from living in this city all of their lives. One thing that I have noticed is that when I am feeling the loneliest is when I am on facebook and seeing everyones statuses about their social outtings and the portrayal of young peoples social lives in movies, magazines and articles I read on the internet.

 

The feeling that I get is that someone (the king of advertisers? the media? whomever..) wants us to believe that an average young persons social life (or the social life everyone should be wishing to have) consists of: travelling to university with friends, sitting with them in class, having lunch with them, having afternoon tea with them, going to the gym together, having a study session together, going to a part time job and chatting the whole way through with your colleagues, a date night with your significant other on a friday night, a night out with the girls/boys on saturday and brunch with your mother on sunday morning.

 

The truth is, that not everyone has the time or money for this, or that you may have a very close best friend but they just can't go out with you very often because of circumstances out of their control. It is at times like these that we need to remember that life isn't simple and not everything can be controlled, life isn't an american teen movie and I think the most important thing to learn to do (especially in a busy modern world) is to learn to enjoy our own company.

 

Does anyone else experience feelings of loneliness when they compare their lives to those of the people they see on social media sites? Agreements, disagreements and off track comments are welcome! I've never heard this mentioned before and I want people to start talking about it!

 

 

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Hey Smiley Happy

 

I think this is something that a lot of people face, whether it's because of finishing a part of their lives or just in general. I'm a member of a different website where this sort of thing is discussed lots, because there are heaps of people who feel disconnected from society and are lonely because of it.

 

On social media websites, people have the pressure to have hundreds of "friends" or "followers" because that's what popular people have. And there's constant updates on what other people are doing with their lives - photos of fun times that they're having, status updates about where they are, who they're with, or busy things in their lives. Websites like that are also a place where lots of people make their social plans, because all the people they know and want to spend time with are easily contactable in the one place.

 

I think it's important to know that people put things on their social media pages that they want other people to see and that they think will be exciting. I could very well put "Went to the living room to find a blue pencil. Found it! with my mum" but I didn't because it's not something that sounds very social or interesting to anyone else. It was a great moment for me, but that's beside the point Smiley Wink

 

But I think when it comes to the point where using social media is actually making you feel more lonely or is upsetting because of comparing yourself to others, it might be time to reconsider how you use it. There's lots of options - limit the time you spend on it, or check out whether you're spending lots of time looking through other people's pages/photos/friends etc., or even just change some of the settings or un-friend or block people if you're having a problem with them specifically. I've actually hidden updates from certain people on Facebook, because I was finding that having constant reminders about their lives was unhelpful for me for various reasons - there's heaps of options for it, like hide all, or only show important updates.

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Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

I think that it's easy to feel superficially involved in many people's lives when you spend time on social media sites like Facebook. However (at least in my experience) you don't get the same level of connection with people when using these sites as when you text/ call/ e-mail someone or see them in person. I'm sure many people filter what they post on social media sites. I for one don't post about my feelings when I feel down etc. Instead I often contact close friends by texting or calling them. Therefore it can be imagined that posts on social media sites are only a glimpse into people's lives - and probably a more favourable side of their lives!

 

I'm a uni student and apart from walking from class to class/ waiting until class starts with uni friends I rarely catch up with people on campus. I do catch up with friends and see this is a priority in my life but those catch-ups fit around my (rather busy) schedule. I certainly don't have heaps of money but going out isn't everything - yes it is lovely and great to budget for from time to time but inviting friends over/ going to their place is good as well (and relatively cheap!).

 

Making new friends can be hard but it's a great way to ease loneliness. @cm1234 have you thought about joining any clubs at uni to make some different friends who have more time to hang out?

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Great topic cm1234.

 

I experienced a lot of isolation after I finished school. I didn't move away but most of my friends did and the only people I knew from school who were going to the local uni were some of the "popular kids" at school who I didn't hang out with and were doing completely different courses to me anyway. I did end befriending a couple of mature age students who were lovely but I still felt really isolated because I wasn't really connecting with anyone my own age. I would talk to them in class but we never caught up outside of uni. And as you said it was also hard because most of them seemed to already be in pre-established social groups.

 

Social media can make me feel very lonely at times too. Especially Facebook. It seems like everyone I know is always going out with friends or boyfriends, away on fantastic holidays and skiting about the wonderful results they are getting at uni which makes me feel very inadequate and wonder why my life is not like that. I'm not someone who constantly posts photos and status updates and I think everyone must think I'm so boring.

 

I definitely agree that I think there is some ideal that is portrayed through media of what young people are and what they do (pretty, have a long term bf or gf, going out partying and to social gatherings all the time, working at a good job, buying all the latest gadgets and fashions) and as someone who doesn't fit this stereotype at all it does feel very isolating. As you say, there are a lot of factors that influence when you can go out like money and just having the time to see your friends. I try my best to enjoy my own company and I am generally okay with it, it's just when I see what everyone else is doing that I begin to feel lonely and disheartened about my life.

 

On a more positive note though, I have made a few more friends now that I've been at uni for a few years which is really good. We don't always catch up outside of class, but we try and make time where we can, or else we just catch up for a study session which is sort of a way to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. One thing that I've done to reduce my lonliness with regard to social media is deleting most of my school aquantainces that I don't talk to off my facebook profile. While it was nice to be able to see what they were up to it was often making me feel lonely and disappointed in my own life which wasn't having a good effect on my self-esteem. I also sometimes have days where I avoid going on facebook altogether which helps me to focus more on what is going on in my life and all the positives in it, and less on comparing myself to others. I've also tried to engage more with the student community at uni through volunteering and student mentoring which has helped reduce my isolation, build my communication skills and introduce me to some lovely new friends.

 

Wow, that was a novel. I think I've gone slightly off topic but anyway, they're just my thoughts.

 

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

I just stumbled across this post and don't have much time at the moment. But I definitely know what you're talking about. For me cause I moved interstate it was kinda harder. I thought my friends in high school were really the best and they still are ! Even though we don't talk much we still keep in contact which is good. They're always organising going away trips where the whole crew hangs out for like a weekend when we're all on uni break and catch up with everyone's lives and stuff. And whenever I head to Melb I'll always call them out to hang and stuff. Where I am at the moment, sometimes it can feel isolating but I've made new friends too which helps. My high school friends are always gonna be a big part of me. Anyways that's it for now. Be back on this post soon. 

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Hi CM,

I think you can see by the answers already that you're not alone if feeling lonely sometimes.

Finishing high school and transitioning to uni is, in itself, a massive change. And moving to a new area is also massive. Did you know that moving house and changing jobs (which I think going from school to uni is very similar to) are 2 of the top 3 most stressful life events?? The other is divorce, or ending a long term relationship. So it's only natural you're feeling a bit out of place at the moment.

I went away to uni too, and being an incredibly shy person it was incredibly hard for me. My best friend & her bf had started there 2 years before, so I had them (sort of, of course they already had other friends and things to do too). It took over 6 months until I really got a bit settled in and started to make a couple of friends - I still only had a couple of close friends, but that made me feel heaps better about it.

You say the media portray young people as having active social lives - maybe this is part of the problem, you feel as though you should be more socially active … ? Don't feel like you *have* to do more if you don't want to. I absolutely enjoy spending time at home: reading, watching tv & dvds, playing ps2 etc… If you're happy doing this sort of stuff to - then try to go a little easier on yourself and just accept that Smiley Happy

If you're having trouble making friends at uni maybe try joining some groups there or take up something new outside uni? Maybe even try something like meetup.com to find new peeps with similar interests.

Have you had a look around the rest of ReachOut yet. There are some great articles here that might help you out a bit. Try reading All about lonliness and maybe even How to make friends

 

And hey, don't forget you can always hang out with us awesome RO peeps if you're ever feeling lonely Smiley Wink

 


Take care, hope you come back to check in soon Smiley Happy

 

JDx

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Hello CM1234,

 

Don't worry about been alone for most your life......I too have walked your shoes and yes, it no fun. I spend most my being bullied and having fights with me peers, so I do regret been alone now in adulthood as I have no interactions with people since my school years and beyond.

 

The media just glamourize the fact of having lots of friends are in thing to do....But I hear more people ie:girlfriends and boyfriends vice versa splitting up more then anything in magazines!!

 

Plus I have noted that these day marriages are done  with ideals that look no futher then been  popular weathy or been a superstar. 

 

But it seems that there always a lot devoices as they done because of money he or she 's family has got as not honest love for the person and their family. So materialistic as true love that our parents know as been become rare, painfully rare....

 

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Oh yes I forgot.......Been alone is nothing to me as I have had it all though me life, just me and my family no one else.....I rather have decent mate, trustworthy and loyal then have bunch of unfaithful, drunken shortsighted mates with me, as all they will do is drag me down with their antics : Say getting in trouble for getting a fight because they got drunk or other stuff!

 

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

I just wanted to write here, to say that I've had the same problem since high school. I left in year 11, due to bullying and I didn't have many friends at all at school. When I left school though, I heard from no one. And it has been that way for YEARS. Those guys all still hang out and are pretty good friends, but to me they are complete strangers. I wouldn't even know what to say to them anymore.

I had the high school reunion this year (I'm 27), and I didn't go. I wouldn't know what to say to these people anymore, it's like I don't even know them now! And most of them are married now, have good jobs, kids etc. And I have NONE of that. Since leaving school, I've faced problems like unemployment, rejection, depression, social anxiety, and a few years back, faced workplace bullying/general bullying which sent me into a severe depression, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. But I got NO support, from anyone. I suffer from low self-esteem as well. And I know that those people are happy and successful, because they never had to deal with any of this stuff.

I'm unemployed at 27, still live at home, and I have no one in my life. I feel like it would take moving a mountain to fix my life now. So I've withdrawn, and suffered from loneliness and isolation for years, and it feels like I don't even know how to socialize anymore. I've had Facebook for over 5 years, and I've been ignored on it for the entire time! It's like no one speaks to me, and no matter what I post on there, no one reads it or replies anyway. And I have 117 so-called "friends". On top of that, I don't get messages, emails, phone calls, Facebook comments, nothing. I agree with your point - it does make you depressed when you see other people on Facebook with heaps of friends, tonnes of comments and happy photos everywhere and people like us have none of that.

And on television as well - people are constantly surrounded by family, friends etc. Always happy, always smiling. This is why I don't watch much TV anymore. Because it reminds me of the things I don't have.

I've missed out on a lot of experiences in life, like traveling, parties, dating, spending time with friends (I just didn't have any!) etc, and now I feel like I'm a lot younger than I am and not where I should be at this age. When you find yourself alone, unable to connect with people anymore, and not being treated by people how you think you should be treated, you eventually lose interest in life. I hardly ever go out anymore, just can't find the motivation. I don't have many interests or any hobbies anymore either, because for years I had nobody to share those things with and didn't want to do them alone. Instead, I spend a lot of nights (including weekends), drinking alone in front of the TV or computer.

It has been tough for me since leaving high school. It's been years since the bullying and abuse, but you never forget it, and you still get reminded. I get anxiety about meeting new people now, and trust issues. My resume is nearly empty and I have no real skills, so I don't know how I'm supposed to get a job. Social isolation sucks! But it's nearly impossible to break out of now. I don't even know where to begin..

Re: Isolation after school years and the impact of social media on feelings of loneliness​.

Hi  @ClaytZ86 .

Firstly, I think it's great that you're reaching out and looking for people to talk to and who you can trust as it sounds like things have been quite tough for you for a while now.

I'm wondering whether you have tried other coping startegies such as going for a walk or listening to music or writing or drawing or meditation or baking, etc as opposed to drinking to help you deal with your feelings of loneliness? Sometimes using negative coping strategies can make us feel worse in the long run instead of better.

 

Do you have anyone to support you with your depression and social anxiety such as a family member or friend or a psychologist/counsellor? They can be great even if you just need someone to list to what's been happening. If you would like someone to talk to but don't feel you can try the options above, Lifeline also offers counselling either by phone or online chat if that would be a more comfortable option for you. Sometimes others can't be there for you if they don't know there's a problem. I can be hard to try and find the right person/people sometimes- I saw three different psychologist before I found one who I trusted and really listend to me and help me work through things. 

As for making and keeping true friends, that's a bit of a complicated one sometimes. One important thing is to find an area you can connect with someone on whether that's sport or music or volunteering, etc depedning on what you're passionate about. It's also helpful to be able to communicate effectively and sometimes that also means reaching out to others even if that simply means saying hi and asking how their day was. I also have lots of friends on Facebook but don't actually talk to 90% of them, but I'm learning this can also be beacuse the other person doesn't know I want to talk to them or can be unsure about contacting you. So sometimes you have to be reach out to them first and see where it goes from there or present yourself as open to their communication.

 

I want to let you know that you're not alone in struggling to find employment. There's lots of young people who are unemployed for all sorts of reasons. I'm not sure exactly what your situation is but I encourage you not to give up. I've been a job seeker myself for over a year now and it can be tough sometimes when you end up with lots of rejections or deadends. A few things I've been trying to do though are to do volunteer work as things can give you some extra skills and experiences which you can put on your resume. The same goes for short courses such as first aid or Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). It can also be useful to review your interview skills and look for areas you can improve in or different ways you could respond to questions. Sometimes you might even have to work out whether you're looking for work in an area that really interests you or whether you might need to consider a change and/or go back and do more study.

 

All of that said, it's all a matter of taking it one step at a time and working out what you could work on in the next week or month or so. Maybe you look at what sort of skills you could develop more or find someone to support you or even just keep talking to us on here and let us know how you're going. Every little step is progress and it's never too late- cliche, I know, but no less true.

 

I hope some of that helps and that things start to improve for you soon. Smiley Happy