The Lumberjack student newspaper
Graphic by Jen Kelly

We’re All Lonely But It’s Not Our Fault

Shifting the blame of loneliness from individuals to institutions

Shifting the blame of loneliness from individuals to institutions

There’s an epidemic of loneliness in modern America. It’s a trauma encompassing political, economic and social realms. We’re all alone, but it’s not any one person’s fault.

Imagine the stereotypical millennial: they moved home after college, unable to find a job or afford a home of their own. It may sound pathetic. But maybe they’ve found the home they need.

The alternative for the millennial generation is living alone in an overpriced closet. It leaves them fragile and alone. A 2018 national survey by the healthcare provider Cigna found 46% of Americans felt alone some or all of the time. Adults aged 18-22 responded as the loneliest age group. A 2010 AARP survey had similar findings.

Lonely people are vulnerable. Alone, a small problem becomes a crisis. That crisis festers and becomes a trauma that stays with a person for life. Without a support network, a minor issue can snowball into an avalanche. Studies have linked loneliness to depression, distress, suffering, poor sleep, high blood pressure and death.

Loneliness almost feels normal in a society that sees the world in terms of the individual. Privacy can feel like success. Appearing independent is an achievement. And we see weakness in a cry for help.

We weren’t always this way. Prior to modern industry, humans often lived in close-knit communities, whether related by blood or not. Fast-forward to the 1950s, and the nuclear family emerges. There’s the working husband, the stay-at-home wife and the two or three kids. It might have been romantic then, but a 2020 article from The Atlantic by David Brooks shows this small, private family wreaked havoc on our social lives.

Jump forward 60 more years and you get the loneliness epidemic. One could criticize nuclear families for pages—read Brooks’ piece for a full account. But as they relate to loneliness, they popularized small families and mistrust of anyone outside of those families.

Small families can produce lonely individuals. Imagine a single child. Imagine their parents pass away. That child then has to live on their own, without the support of a family around them. Financial, personal or professional stresses can lead to a free-fall when you have no safety net.

Small, nuclear families disintegrate, and children are left on their own.

Youth are finding new ways to survive the aftermath of a nuclear family disaster.

The good news is we seem to be adapting. We are, in some sense, valuing extended families again. Pew Research Center found a record 64 million Americans living in multigenerational households in 2018. In 2016, Pew found the most common living arrangement for the 18-34 age group to be living with parents.

We’re also expanding families beyond biological boundaries through shared housing units and groups for single parents. These new arrangments provide a way forward that doesn’t necessitate stay-at-home wives or gender discrimination. We’re finding ways to balance our want for individual freedom with our need for a family.

Living together doesn’t necessarily make for less lonely people. We should be cautious about praising housing arrangements that can be born out of economic necessity, but research suggests many are choosing less lonely housing by choice. Living together is a good first step toward a more stable society.

Youth are finding new ways to survive the aftermath of a nuclear family disaster. Make fun of the millennial in their parents’ garage if you want. But it looks to us like they might have found shelter from modern loneliness. They’re going to be OK.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination