More than any other generation Millennials seem to be spending time at home. And not just spending time, they’re reveling in it. One study found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 spend a whopping 70% more time at home than the general US population.
The Young Hermit
There is an odd thing happening on social media and the internet at large where so-proclaimed “introverts” are humble-bragging about constantly staying in-doors. Young people will take pictures of a comfortable looking couch and their legs under a blanket and write captions like “Why go out?” or “Time to Netflix and chill,” and the like. It used to be that such behavior (bordering on anti-social) would be something to hide. If, back in the day, someone asked you what you did on Saturday night you would certainly not be in a hurry to tell them “Oh, I didn’t do anything. Just relaxed, stayed home and watched TV.” Such a response would make you seem boring. But not today. There has been a subtle powershift in how Millennials view being a homebody.
Loneliness and Being Anti-Social
The fact that young people are staying in more may not, in and of itself, be cause for concern. But when you couple this with the dramatic increase in reported loneliness, it does raise some red flags. If many Millennials are so lonely, why are they seemingly proud of the face that they never go out and socialize?
Social Media and the Rise of the Extroverted-Introvert
This is where social media comes in. Many introverts and otherwise painfully shy people are given the option today to “own” their introvertedness, that is what posting about staying in and relaxing rather than going out and socializing does for these people. Such activity, however, does not fill the human-sized hole that still calls out deep within the being of every person.
Even if, in other words, posting about how “happy” you are not to be out socializing gives you some social credibility it does not solve the underlying issue of loneliness—this is true just as it is true that a “Like” from a friend is not the same thing as a friend actually picking up their phone and dialing you. There is something about physical, real-world interaction that the digital realm has yet to duplicate.
It’s Not All Bad
All of this anti-introvert talk needs to a disclaimer: it’s not all bad! It’s not always a bad thing to stay in and avoid the crowds and even, sometimes, temporarily disengage from your friends. For many such moments of silence and self-reflection are necessary parts of a successful existence. One can only “know oneself” if one takes the time to do honest (sometimes painful) introspection. Whereas past generations likely put far too much emphasis on the importance of constantly being social, of constantly being out meeting new people and talking, surrounded by noise, it’s likely that Millennials have put too much emphasis on the importance of being alone. The key lies in balance. For some people that balance is going to be more introverted, and for others more extroverted. Find what works for you!