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On Weekends, Americans Spend More Time With Screens Than People

An ‘introvert economy’ has come to define America’s post-lockdown culture, according to the Manhattan Institute’s Allison Schrager.


An “introvert economy” has come to define America’s post-lockdown culture, according to the Manhattan Institute’s Allison Schrager in Bloomberg Opinion.

“The time at home made Americans less fun,” Schrager reported Monday. “In general Americans are going out less. And odds are it will stick: It is the youngest adults who are going out less, and when they do go out, it is earlier.” Even when they do go out, she notes, “the data show they are also less likely to drink.”

“Gen Z is shaping up to be the most sober generation in US history,” Schrager wrote. “Singles are also less likely to approach each other in public, preferring the anonymity and clear social boundaries of online meeting. This means less need to be out.”

When making plans for the weekends, more Americans are trading real-life social interactions for at-home digital entertainment, whether it be video games or television, according to Labor Department data Schrager cites. Americans across the board are also having less sex.

The data reflects an accelerating trend since lockdowns: more and more Americans are seduced by cheap dopamine hits from the couch. Americans emerged from government-mandated lockdowns feeling more isolated and depressed. They were left to cope with the comforts of Netflix and an easy stream of addictive ready-to-eat ultra-processed food. According to the Shelby Report, a Georgia-based publication for the food and grocery industry, snack sales on items such as cookies, crackers, chips, and more jumped $10 billion from 2020 to 2022.

Are Americans happier as a result? Research published in 2021 suggests no, with study findings that “indicate that the rate of serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety have more than doubled in the USA during the pandemic.” In May last year, a Gallup poll revealed Americans are more depressed than ever, with nearly 1 in 3 reporting a diagnosis at least once in their lifetime.

[READ: Depressed? Ditch Your Phone, Go Outside, Fix Your Diet, Practice Prayer And Kindness]

In November 2022, Harvard University clinical psychologist Christopher Palmer published a book offering a new framework to understand the nation’s mental health crisis as primarily driven by poor diet, sleep, and exercise. In Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health — and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More, Palmer highlights similarities between mental disorders as “metabolic disorders of the brain.”

“Mental disorders — all of them — are metabolic disorders of the brain,” Palmer wrote. And “metabolism,” he explains, “is the same.”

A problem in one area of the body will often spread over time. Why? Because metabolism is highly interconnected. It relies on feedback loops all over the body. So, if one area is not doing well, the rest of the body can be affected.

Loneliness is associated with metabolic challenges ranging from mental illness to insulin resistance. According to Harvard research, 43 percent of young adults aged 18-25 reported an increase in loneliness since lockdowns began. Recreational screen time also jumped among adults after lockdowns.

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