Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meet Generation Lonely

Opening her laptop, Emily Raven logs on to Facebook to see what's going on.

She has over 400 friends and checks their status updates hourly. She sees one has posted pictures of a party. Another comments on the amazing weekend she has lined up. A third has asked a mutual friend out that night.

But the posts just leave Emily feeling numb. She may have hundreds of "friends", but she wasn't at the party, hasn't got a wicked weekend ahead, and isn't invited out tonight.

Instead, she'll sit alone in front of the telly in her one-bedroom flat.

"If someone had told me when I was 18 that by my mid-20s I'd be spending most of my Saturday nights alone, I'd have thought they were mad," she says. "But here I am. My friends have all moved away or got boyfriends, while I'm left behind wondering if there's something wrong with me."

Emily's loneliness stems from when her best friend, Lauren, 24, moved to London two years ago. "We went from seeing each other three times a week to once every three months," she says.

"My other good friends have either settled down with their boyfriends or grown closer to their other mates."

Emily has been single for over three years. And now she's wondering if she's doomed to a life of loneliness.

"I see my friends with boyfriends and always feel a pang of jealousy," she says sadly. "Sometimes they'll invite me out, but it feels like they're doing it out of pity, as if I am their token single friend.

"Being on my own so much leaves me drained, so even when I am invited out, I often don't have the energy.

"I try to meet people once a fortnight, but when I do I don't feel like I really know them anymore. Sometimes I go home and cry as I realise how lonely I feel."

What compounds Emily's isolation is that she left her job in insurance two months ago.

"I can easily go a couple of days without leaving the flat," she says. "So I make myself go to the shop, to my nan's - anything so I have human contact."

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