Generation Z — those young people age 18 to 22 and born of technology — are, alas, the least healthy, loneliest generation on record. That's quite ironic for a generation that focuses on health and wellness and where invisible threads instantaneously connect us across the globe.
Yet while technology has transformed our lives, it also has produced some toxic, unintended consequences in the workplace. In fact, the problem is so real, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared loneliness and social isolation in the workplace an urgent crisis and is calling for corporations to address the unintended consequences of technology as it affects employees' mental and physical health.
Addressing an audience at a recent Aspen Ideas Festival, he said, "We have built stronger Wi-Fi connections over time, but our personal connections have deteriorated" as online connections are massively substituting in-person connections.
Supporting Murthy's claim is a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, which found that the heaviest users of social media had about twice the odds of feeling socially isolated compared to their less "web-connected" friends.
Murthy said that when you're disconnected, you're in a stress state. "Loneliness is associated with a reduction in your lifespan that is as severe as the lifespan you see with smoking 15 cigarettes a day," he said, adding that when there is consistently no organic space for cognitive, physical and emotional well-being to blossom, "it can have a profound impact on your health."
Unfortunately, human beings are suffering silently, unconscious of the causes as to why they're lost.