Loneliness is apparently an epidemic these days. I see it all the time on the net. People are getting lonely more often than they did many years ago. I have a reason for that.
We all love technology. Smartphones, laptops, gadgets and gizmos that make our lives easier. The feeling of unboxing a new toy is always a joyous one, at least for me. It’s how we choose to spend our time with these toys that causes our loneliness. It’s not so long ago that I sat in a room with four other people and there was absolutely no communication between any of us other than the occasional word or a bit of eye contact. They all sat on their phones snickering at whatever was popping up on their feeds. The truth about these guys is that they’re all very fun personalities and I do enjoy their company when they look up from their phones and talk, and it’s not just them. It seems to be the case for many people, myself included, that we consider electronic communication to be more valuable than in-person dialogues. We’d rather chat with and get to know someone over social media than actually going out and putting effort into meeting someone. We stay home locked up with our gadgets.
This evolution in communication is causing a feeling of loneliness in the world and it comes as no surprise to me. It’s amazing to think that we can sit in a room crowded with people and still feel lonely. So what we do to prevent that feeling is staying as active as possible on social media, getting message notifications and talking to people through text so we don’t feel as lonely anymore. Still, though, that lonely feeling lingers with us because we have no voice to hear. No smile to admire. No emotion behind words and no passion to share. We are communicative by nature and we’re slowly losing touch with a small bit of our humanity because of that. I’m not anti-technology and, as a matter of fact, I’m very active on social media. It just bothers me that when I sit down for lunch at work or go to get coffee somewhere; people seem to be more interested in what’s going on in their little screen than chatting with a person that has seemingly materialised in front of them. “Oh, sorry I wasn’t listening. I didn’t see you there.” is a sentence I’ve heard very often, and as loud as I am that comes often as a surprise.
Let’s try something together. Next time we’re feeling lonely in a public setting. Let’s try putting away our phones and talking to the people around us if they seem open to it. It takes courage to talk to a stranger, I know, but sometimes those can be some of the most meaningful conversations we have, and if we don’t have the courage to do so then we can always try again later. Let’s put down our phones so we can admire the fact that we are surrounded by so many beautiful people with amazing experiences to share. We can choose whether or not we’re lonely, but that’s a topic for next time.