Even today in the era of FaceBook & Whatsapp and countless other social media, 1 in every 10 people are lonely… with only a computer/mobile screen to turn to…Who can I talk to?
Have you ever read some of the status updates people put up on their walls? Read some of the updates on your friends Whatsapp accounts? Go through some of the blogs of what people write about… you would be surprised by what you read in them. What it tells us is that, no matter with all the latest technology and the fact that we can openly express our feelings over social networks and through different media, today’s youngsters/adults are going a phase of extreme loneliness. Yes, we have a job, we have friends, we go out partying…but that is all the superficial life. If we look at ourselves very closely, we will realize it.
For a simple example, why do Indian people connect so much with the stories of our Bollywood films, soul stirring movies like ‘Taaare Zameen Par’ or ‘PAA’, why could I see tears falling off from people’s eyes (at the theatre) at the emotional scenes. It’s not only because we are human, it’s because somewhere down the line we realize the pain of being alone and it’s never a good feeling.
It can be hard to admit to feelings of loneliness. It’s not just an issue for the elderly – loneliness is rising among the young. So are we all destined to be lonely?
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” wrote the poet John Donne in the 17th Century.
Some people seek isolation, but few choose to be lonely. Loneliness not only makes us unhappy, but it is bad for us. It can lead to a lack of confidence and mental health problems like depression, stress and anxiety. At the same time, social changes such as the rise of the solo dweller and the upstream in social networks, combined with an ageing population, are changing the way people interact with each other.
Speaking to a college friend of mine, meeting her after many years and on casually asking her, “Why’s a pretty girl like you still single”? (A second ago having looked at her hand minus the wedding ring) She said; that’s not what I’m looking for. What am I looking for? I’m looking for my husband aren’t I, and I’m never going to find him,” she says.
On talking to people of different ages it seems that people’s social networks have got smaller and families are not providing the same level of social context they may have done 50 years ago. That’s really sad. I’m sure many of you have seen people in café’s or public places open up their laptops, notebooks and work. Have you ever realized that this is not probably what they chose to do but do it just to make them feel that work is keeping them busy? Every 4th person working on their laptop will have FaceBook, Twitter or some other social networking site open in another tab…what does that suggest?
To cite a simple example of a colleague at office. She was the receptionist at the office I worked at, she had an angelic smile. The moment someone made eye contact with her, she’d smile, a smile that would immediately brighten up my day. We wouldn’t speak much throughout the day, but the feeling she gave me whenever I was around her was something I enjoyed. A colleague of mine mistook it for something else and that it was that I took her as ‘more-than-a-friend and something that could develop into something deeper. A couple of times he even asked me “You like her, don’t you? Why don’t you propose to her?” I replied “Of course I do, I like her a lot but marriage isn’t a solution” I further continued saying “She makes me feel wanted and I don’t just say that. She’s worth a fortune, I would be lost without her, and I mean truly lost,” We don’t work together anymore, I miss her, I really do, and yes a certain part of me is lost, that’s when I turn to the next best alternative, FaceBook/Whatsapp which helps me keep in touch. It’s never the same.
The next question arises then; does social networking help people stay in touch – or is it just the opposite? I guess that’s something each one of us needs to answer for ourselves. According to me, to an extent it does, when we are talking about two different countries but within the same city? Town? or worse still, the same locality.
At times I feel lonely too, its natural…what do I do to overcome it? I read a book, that way at least I am connected to the characters in some way. I have my friends, an amazing family, a loving God…but we all want that someone to be around us, to care for us, to tell us…I am always there. Are you lucky to have that kind of person in your life?