Poll shows Americans are lonely but got through thanks to online friends

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The other day I was having a conversation about COVID fatigue with a group of women I met online during the first COVID lockdown. We were talking about how bad our memories and attention spans have gotten this year. I even admitted that I thought I was developing early onset dementia because my language skills have deteriorated. We all laughed and I knew I had found a community of likeminded people. It seem that many Americans have found themselves in a similar situation. As 2020 dragged on, we were feeling isolated from our friends and family. With that isolation came a decrease in energy for maintaining our friendships and communities. In a poll conducted by OnePoll and Medifriends, 52% of Americans said they felt more comfortable opening up with people online. This is significant because 54% of Americans state that they didn’t tell anyone in their immediate circle how alone they felt because they didn’t want to feel like a burden. Below are a few highlights from the poll thanks to People:

The poll of 2,003 Americans found 62% have felt there’s absolutely no one they can talk to about their loneliness or isolation during the quarantine period.

Results revealed 55% also feel like they’ve completely lost their sense of community in the past year.

A study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Medifriends, aimed to see how COVID-19 has affected Americans and discovered the sad fact that 54% withheld from talking to anyone about how alone they felt during this past year because they didn’t want to be a burden.

The feelings of loneliness and isolation were so rampant among Americans that 46% revealed they cried for the first time in years during the pandemic.

Maintaining friendships and relationships takes a lot of energy, and since COVID-19 hit, 58% of those polled said they just can’t keep up with everybody anymore.

As people began feeling more and more isolated and alone in the past year, Americans turned to the internet for a source of comfort and community.

Over half of those polled said online friendships take much less energy to maintain than real-life ones, with 52% saying they actually feel more comfortable opening up to people they only know online.

Some of the reasons why online friendships allow people to open up more freely and comfortably are because they feel anonymous (41%), there’s less judgment (34%) and there’s less pressure to be perfect (23%).

Sixty-two percent of respondents revealed that after sharing their feelings with an online community, they actually feel better about themselves.

As a result, 56% of respondents wouldn’t have made it through this past year if it wasn’t for an online community they have.

[From People]

The poll said that Americans lost at least four friends last year and that may be true but I feel like I gained better ones with the people I’ve met online. Most of my friends live out of state and the U.S. so I am so used to keeping in touch with them via the internet or phone calls. Being stuck inside the last year hasn’t been as bad for me as it has for many. I am a homebody anyways and it has been the excuse I have needed to avoid social gathering. The inability to travel the last year begin to get to me in February. I love traveling internationally at least once a year and knowing I won’t be able to do any international travel until 2022 has had me down. What I have decided to do in the meantime is use the opportunity to plan travel around the U.S. to meet my new “friends.” The beautiful thing about meeting people virtually is there is none of the social pressure to “fake it till you make it.” Speaking to my new buddies online has open up avenues of more authentic expression and truth telling.

COVID 2020/21 has been hellish. I will not deny that, but I have tried to find the silver lining in a year of so much loss. I think if I were to really dwell on the loss too long, the grief would be crushing. I am happy to read that people haven’t been completely isolated. Maybe physical isolation has been an issue. However, seeing that 52% of respondents built new communities online tells me that it is human nature to connect to others. It is absolutely a beautiful thing that, during a pandemic when we couldn’t go out or hug our loved ones and in the midst of immense loss, we found community and connected with others. I have definitely built friendships within the several communities I have found myself in this last year. We are already planning trips to meet each other once we are all vaccinated. It will definitely be a “girl’s trip summer.”

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Photos credit: Andrea Piacquadio, Katerina Holmes and Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels

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13 Responses to “Poll shows Americans are lonely but got through thanks to online friends”

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  1. Eleonor says:

    While I love the fact I have been able to keep in touch with everyone, and I can talk and see people, I have developed a real hate towards everything requiring a screen.

    • Lily P says:

      agreed! It’s weirdly been difficult to have ‘down time’ because screens have comprised every part of life from work to socialising meaning you never really switch off.

  2. Becks1 says:

    *shout out to the CB community*

    I definitely feel like it was easier to maintain online relationships last year. Even now when I see some of my friends IRL, even at the bus stop lol, I feel awkward, like I don’t know what to say to someone that I have only seen 3-4 times in the past year but I used to see every day (or so it seemed.) I think online communities have been the saving grace for many people over the past year.

    A simple thing I missed was talking about recent TV shows or books with my work friends during a Monday lunch – “hey guess what we watched last night, it was so good, you should check it out” and I think CB and twitter filled that void to a large extent for me – I had so many Bridgerton thoughts to get out, for example, and having the posts here helped me to share those thoughts, because if the whole world doesn’t know what I think about Reje-jean, WHAT IS THE POINT lol.

    • SarahCS says:

      That’s a good point, I never used to even read the comments and it’s definitely since early last year that I got more into reading them and now commenting on multiple stories myself each day! I may read the story when it’s posted (I’m in the UK so perfect timing with my lunchtime) but then go back later to read comments.

  3. SarahCS says:

    ‘I even admitted that I thought I was developing early onset dementia because my language skills have deteriorated.’

    I thought this was only me! I have been genuinely getting concerned, especially as all my work is knowledge based with analysis, writing reports, etc. Thank you for the reassurance!

    As for the communities, the silver lining for me (other than the amazing community here – if you ever need a strap line I suggest ‘come for the stories, stay for the comments’), is having far more virtual contact with friends who live in other parts of the country/other countries so that’s a huge win. Then we have also connected way more with the people on our street, a wahtsapp group, helping each other out, one lady runs a food collection each week for local food banks, singing Christmas carols on our doorsteps, going out to wave off our neighbours who took advantage of the restrictions to have the tiny wedding they really wanted. For all the isolation (UGH) I have definitely felt a greater sense of community. Huh, I’m now quite emotional having reflected on all this!

    • Drea says:

      I have to tell you, I was soooo glad to read that too. I was mostly OK for the first year, but this last little bit of “will it end? Will it not?” has got me struggling in ways I never imagined. My word recall has never been great, but now I’m constantly forgetting words, places, people, what I was doing, etc etc. It’s a wonder that I still have a job. I’ve left my phone in the grocery cart FOUR TIMES in the last 6 months. Went all the way home without it twice (luckily people have been nice).

      I have no idea what to do about it, but it’s at least nice to hear I’m not alone, and that it’s probably not early onset dementia.

  4. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    I so truly appreciate my new CB friends and sincerely appreciate any chance I can join the weekly chats. I’ve met some wonderful, smart, and funny people who love to gossip! CB, thanks for starting the Zooms over a year ago!

  5. goofpuff says:

    I am naturally introverted and this pandemic has actually really helped my mental health shockingly. Before I was always running around and felt sadness at not being able to spend more time with my family. My little ones are growing up so fast. This pandemic has really made us all closer (in good ways lol and bad as in getting on each others nerves).

    My siblings and I spend alot of time online playing games together and it has really made us closer.

  6. Christin says:

    I appreciate this community very much, more so now. It has helped to not feel as alone. Though I am more of an introvert and homebody, the last year has still frayed my nerves at times. Most of it has related to how insensitive people can be about others’ well-being. It’s been highly revealing, and that can be a good thing.

    So just as we see light at the end of the tunnel, I am reminded that our relationships are valuable and should be granted with great discernment. People will treat you nicely to your face and then be completely offensive behind your back. So many lessons and time to mull over things during the past year…

  7. lucy2 says:

    I definitely appreciate my online communities, especially here! And be able to zoom and stuff with friends.

  8. Zoe says:

    This was true for me, but also at a certain point my virtual community expected me to be perfect. I ran some virtual servers that kept me and others in our community afloat but at a certain point people started piling on the expectations and judging hard, wanting me to be all things to all people with my servers. Alas, humans human eventually, even digitally lol. Ultimately walked away as I’m rejoining the real world again.

  9. IMARA219 says:

    I’m an introvert by nature, so the past year wasn’t bad. What did have me almost lose it was having my then 2-year-old all day AND teach remotely. That was a huge struggle and challenge. In the beginning, I no longer had my village and my husband was still working every day as an essential worker. It was so tough, after around 5-6 weeks my mother became a part of our bubble, and by extension, that relationship helped. My husband was no longer working and school ended so I could breathe again. I joke that those 6 weeks zapped me so bad it took half a year to recover.

  10. Sansa says:

    as an introvert i tend to mostly lurk here, but even just reading the comments on all the royals articles here has helped me feel connected. plus i have learned so much about the royals,m and class and race in britain! so huge thanks to CB for being a fun space and the commenters for contributing to that