When we speak about loneliness, we often imagine an old person living in solitude. To a certain extent, our imaginations do not deceive us. The loneliness epidemic amongst Baby Boomers has attracted a great deal of attention over the last few years, and rightly so; one of every 11 is growing old without a support system. However, a major survey of over 55,000 people conducted by the BBC found that the loneliest individuals are not the Baby Boomers, but those aged between 16 and 24. Loneliness among the youth is an epidemic that is found all over the world. Research done by Cigna and market research firm Ipsos found that young people age 18 to 22 are most likely to be lonely in the U.S. In another study conducted by the American Sociological Review, the average person in the U.S. claims to only have one close friend.
As someone who grew up in Kashmir, a politically fraught place, and being continuously and unnecessarily frisked and stopped by authorities has been unwelcome but unsurprising. But this time, after living in Boston for a few weeks and experiencing constant stares, I was truly learning how “otherness” works in American social, political and religious contexts.