Loneliness

This video presents a number of interesting concepts about virtual interaction, social networks, and loneliness, but what I found really interesting was the idea that in a virtual environment we get to edit who we are.

In a way, I agree. In a social media world such as ours, we can delete and change who we want the world to believe we are. Information is a couple of seconds from our reach, so we can appear to be smarter, but given enough time I believe you can’t appear to be someone you’re not.

Because I think that even though most of the virtual interaction that takes place in the form of e-mails, comments, and such is not real time, we still can’t change who we are.

But this doesn’t stop us from trying, which I think only makes the feeling of loneliness worse. When wearing a mask, it’s easy to feel misunderstood. Those who like you with your mask on, you’re afraid won’t like the real you, so they do nothing to kill the feeling that you’re alone.

I believe that interaction, in a virtual environment or the real world, should be genuine, meaning that you have to be honest about who you are, what you want, and what you love and hate. But then again, we’ve been trying to make certain people like us for something we’re not for longer than we can remember.

In a way, the fact that we are social creatures also acts as a burden. We have to have friends, because that’s what people do. Sometimes we don’t feel like it, because as much as society presents us as social creatures, we are also loners. We strive for solitude in ways we rarely acknowledge.

For instance, reading a book. It shuts you off from the world. Even if you read it in the most crowded place you can find, it still acts as a barrier between you and all the other people. The same principle applies to listening to music on your headphones, watching a movie or TV, or staring at a painting in a museum.

Sometimes there’s limited interaction, such as going to see a movie with friends, but that’s not meaningful enough.

What I’m trying to say is that loneliness has always been somewhat frowned upon, and this social media world we live in exploits this. You need friends, followers, fans, likes, and comments to make you feel less lonely. Most of the times, like I said earlier, it doesn’t really work out well, because you’re presenting the world an edited version of yourself.

It’s not you people like, it’s a better version, possibly the best possible version. The best looking, the smartest, the one who is sending an optimized message.

But the same principles apply to real life interactions as well. How often do you say what you really want to say? How often you do speak your mind? How often do you make meaningful conversation?

A friend of mine once told me that he constantly feels that what he wants to say is not important, that what he wants to say doesn’t matter, or people simply wouldn’t care.

The big problem is not whether or not technology is isolating us, or whether or not real interaction is better than virtual interaction; the big problem is that we are less and less willing to be ourselves. In a world that is constantly telling us that we’re equal and the same, it’s getting harder and harder to feel as if our opinions and views really matter.

We have stopped thinking of ourselves as being different, and thus we feel lonely. This is modern man’s paradox. If we believe that there are a bunch of others who are doing the same things we do our initial reaction is to pretend to be someone else. Or to do nothing at all.

The sense that you are not unique breeds passivity.

The only way you can fight loneliness is to realize that you are different from everyone else. Yes, we’re seven or eight billion, but you are different. You are unique. You have a voice, and you have dreams and aspirations, and you have opinions and ideals, and people should listen to them. Whether they care or not, whether they like you, love you, or hate you, it doesn’t matter.

If you accept that you are different, and if you accept that being different is both a blessing and a curse, then you’ll feel less lonely simply because you can build meaningful interaction with those who either agree or disagree with what you have to say.

The biggest problem we have, as social creatures, is that we often talk just to talk, without really saying anything.

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21 comments on “Loneliness

  1. msmithj567 says:

    truth has been spoken

  2. truthaboutschmidt says:

    Well social networks are shit, but I was just reading earlier on a news website the fact that people of our country are more and more joining the hook up websites.
    About sharing our thoughts…we did that since mankind started to exist, only that we did it in different way
    Man is born lonely and dies lonely and we need to live with it and deal with it.
    Yes Facebook is crap, Social online marketing is crap, the western society is based on consumerism, some people sees opportunities in promoting their business online, which for some works, for others not.
    As a matter of fact both of us are doing the same thing right now.
    We could write our memories in a journal, the old school way, using a notebook and a pen, and then hoping that after our death someone will read it.
    Is not the need of man to communicate via writing fantasies about himself or the world in which he is living that is the today problem. Is when the fantasies are taking on yourself and you forget who you are.
    But you do know, things are not yet to change? I m afraid long time will pass, until the system will collapse. It s been like this since the beginning of mankind.

  3. chocolate231 says:

    This was really good to read

  4. realistrebel says:

    excellent view on the video. so true, we all do represent our edited versions.
    and strangely your friend and i happen to have the same thinking !!
    PS : i love your blog. keep up the good work. all the best for your future endeavors :)

  5. Thank you for sharing that video. I’ve found that I retain more information if it is presented in more than one mode. I agree that society is quite individualized and sensational..but it seems like history repeats itself but us humans never “get” the lessons lol..This recent generation of kids are growing up in the age of rapid, persistent, powerful, (insert more adjectives as you want) transmission of knowledge but also disconnection. Each generation presents different challenges from the previous one…for me and my daughters it is MTV vs. FB/text, etc. At least we know what we’re up against…kinda.. :)

  6. It is sad when individuals feel a need to modify themselves especially online. However we have to look at the plethora of avenues outside the internet that help feed many people’s dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives. There is so much on t.v., magazines, and in music that can be culprits as well. When a person does not feel accepted based on these types of things, they may withdrawal and interact less. Loneliness sets in, then boom, they recreate themselves via online profiles and photoshop.

  7. Liam Lunaris says:

    Very thought provoking. Thank you :)

  8. brendan2k5 says:

    This is SO DEEP.

    It reminds me of a post I made on the psychology of the Persona two years ago: https://sereneadventure.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/we-all-have-a-persona/

    For me, blogging and writing validates my existence.

  9. This CBC interview on Loneliness and various aspects of it in modern life is worth a listen: http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2015/01/16/living-in-the-age-of-loneliness/

  10. Khushbo says:

    Very true! Great video too!

  11. Beautiful post. Thank you!
    True loneliness is when we lose or are willing to trade ourselves, our authenticity, our opinions, our shortcomings, our flaws, for a better looking (in heart or deed), more popular, more educated, more clever version of ourselves. What are we left with? A shell that aims to please instead of aiming to live. I have struggled with this for years and I am just finally wrestling down the demons that have battled my authenticity for years.
    This post was also a much needed reminder that yes, we may be part of 7 or 8 billion, but it is literally impossible to find our duplicate; we are all unique. Wow! It’s mind boggling, isn’t? But that doesn’t make it any less true.

  12. kashpals says:

    Very true. Inspiring quote-“If you accept that you are different, and if you accept that being different is both a blessing and a curse, then you’ll feel less lonely simply because you can build meaningful interaction with those who either agree or disagree with what you have to say.” Awesome post. Thank you.

  13. NoOneKnows says:

    I remember seeing a picture of rows and rows of the A Typical yellow smiley faces, 10 x 10, and the caption read, “Remember, you are unique, just like the rest of us.” I believe this video made some interesting points worthy of contemplating before I agree or disagree with the overall message because there is something of a “Red Flag” going up. For the most part, when I have experienced these “Red Flags” the reason why does not alight immediately but I have to consider that there is something alerting me to a possible fabrication. Perhaps because while I hear a systematic logic that makes sense, I am not sure there is one message or a complete solution. Clearly there is a problem illustrated in identifiable language, but I am not sure that the root of the problem is enhanced, helped or marginalized by new technology because this was a problem before even electricity was promulgated as a way broach distances, Rather, (perhaps) technology has broached the awareness (I.e. the video itself, which I believe is intended to present a positive message) so it is almost seems to be attacking the very medium with which the message is delivered. It’s an argument that kind-of turns in on itself. (?) Well, I am not sure whether to agree or disagree but at the very least I will think more about this issue. Thank you for blogging this video.

  14. Loneliness is something we will always have to deal with even if we are with people we love and who affirm us. Loneliness has more to do with what is going on inside us rather than how many people we are surrounded by. I believe much of loneliness is born out of being overly concerned about ourselves. When the “lonelies” come it is best to find someone to help or minister to: Loneliness can’t stand a chance in the midst of doing for others.

  15. nobodylovesblack says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog.

  16. I love the video and your thoughts on it. Great job in looking at the loneliness issue from the perspective of being our true selves vs what we want people to like.

  17. mescalime says:

    We wear masks because that is the way we were taught from early age (eg. “It’s not polite to ask a woman her age”. “It’s not polite to comment about the food you are given”, “You have to learn this the way I teach it to you” etc.). So being raised under stress of not saying your opinion about things, you develop into a mild robot. You think that is right, because that is the way you were brought up. I meet so many people who still think that this is the way to live- by keeping their opinions to themselves and when you speak up, they find it revolting.
    I came to the conclussion that some people would never change, but there is hope for the new generations, if we teach them the right way to live.

  18. melisdvash says:

    Well said. I might not have left a comment, given how many have already commented, but you talked me into it. ;-)

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