“There is nothing outside of yourself. Look within. Everything you want is there.”
Why are young people so lonely? Are we losing touch with true companionship in an era of digital connections?
Unearthing these questions, this week’s Future of Coaching webinar series was an eye-opening conversation with our guest Dr. Varun Soni. In a chat with Coacharya co-founders Ram S. Ramanathan and Pranav Ramanathan, the webinar explored the reasons behind this pervasive feeling and the kind of support young people need to mitigate the challenges of loneliness. With an extensive background in working with youth, Dr. Varun Soni is the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Southern California. He has also served as the inaugural Vice Provost of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention. As part of his role, Dr. Varun teaches leadership, lifestyle redesign, and comparative religion courses.
Expanding on the rise of loneliness in recent years, Dr. Soni highlighted the stark contrast between his conversations with millennials and Gen Z as an example. While millennials talked about meaning, the conversation among Gen Z is vastly different. “Instead of asking me about meaning, the students began to talk about meaninglessness. And instead of asking me how they should live, students increasingly began to ask me, why should they live.”
As the webinar progressed and Dr. Soni divulged the reasons behind this silent pandemic, it was startling to note how Gen Z is struggling to make friends in an era of hyperconnectivity. One couldn’t help but wonder about the sheer depth of the challenges of loneliness. What can be the solution to such a mounting crisis among young people? Answering very simply, Dr. Soni said, “Coaching is the way, honestly.”
Here are some key themes that were explored during the webinar:
- Social media and loneliness
- Role of coaching in alleviating loneliness
- Coach-in-the-pocket and making coaching more accessible
- Loss of religion and its role in loneliness
- Tackling loneliness through Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One of the key takeaways from this webinar for me is the growing relevance and necessity of coaching for young people. And so, I encourage you to watch this webinar because it addresses an issue central to human existence. The webinar is also an insight into how coaching and other interventions can offer a way forward in combating feelings of loneliness. What is your take on loneliness? Tell us in the comments section below or feel free to share your thoughts with us on CoachNook.