From Hopelab Project Lead: Caroline Fitzgerald
As my understanding of loneliness and its impact on our health and well-being has deepened over the past three years, so has my appreciation of the gravity of psychologist Chris Peterson’s simple but powerful statement, “other people matter.” Other people matter, not only to our survival, but as irreplaceable contributors to the precious, joyful experiences in life. Alongside learning to live in harmony with our natural environment, there is nothing more important right now than learning how to connect with our fellow humans in a rapidly changing social and cultural world. Adding urgency to the call is the troubling trend of increasing levels of loneliness among teens and young adults in the U.S. As the stories in this zine evidence, loneliness is not the same as being alone.
Gen Z students suffer more loneliness than any other generation that we know of, but Gen Z students are not to blame. Loneliness is a state that cannot be explained by one root cause, and the fact that it is on the rise across the entire population points to the influence of social, cultural, and environmental factors. Personally, I think bringing youth and experts together to work on and test solutions that address loneliness is the way forward. By learning what works, we can not only improve the health and quality of life for people who experience loneliness, but we can also contribute new knowledge to better understand its psychological and behavioral drivers.
At Hopelab, we were working with students, like you to design a mobile app that empowers them to build the social connections they want and need to be successful in college. When COVID-19 sent shockwaves through the college community, we knew we needed to help. We had originally created the Nod app to get college students into the real world to build the social connections they want and deserve to combat the rise of loneliness on college campuses. This week, we rapidly adapted Nod to provide tips, tools and prompts to help you maintain relationships while staying safe and adhering to public health precautions.
Just because we can’t be together physically doesn’t mean we can’t be socially connected. Nod, a research-backed app to build social connections has added ideas and prompts for how you can keep, build and even deepen connections during this time. Download Nod from the Apple or Google Play store. Together we can help #flattenthecurve