Some of us are turning to convenient, low-commitment substitutes for faith and fellowship: astrology, the easy “spiritualism” of yoga and self-care, posting away on Twitter and playing more games. (Yes, literal games. The BLS survey found that we’re nearly twice as likely to get our game on than non-millennials, and for a longer time — but then again, we’re the “World of Warcraft” generation).
Here’s what really worries me: Few of these activities are as geared toward building deep relationships and communal support as the religious traditions the millennials are leaving behind. Actively participating in a congregation means embedding oneself in a community. This involves you in the lives of others and the other way around — their joys and sadnesses, connections and expectations. By leaving religion, we’re shrugging off the ties that bind, not just loosening them temporarily.
Which is freeing, in some sense — “Finally, no one’s breathing down my neck about finding a spouse!” — until it’s not. Much of the conversation around millennials today does center on workload and debt, but it’s our generation’s complaints about relationship culture, family formation and a lack thereof that are likely to reach a crescendo in the coming years. Dating apps were exciting in 2012, but seven years later we’re burnt out. A new wave of egg-freezing start-ups is targeting the growing number of millennial women who still haven’t found the partner they hoped they would.