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Matt23

Thoughts on Loneliness & the "Loneliness Epidemic"

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I noticed these past few days, as I've been off work sick (though, I suspect, work may be "covering" some of these feelings), that I think I have a decent amount of loneliness or feelings of disconnection and grief.

I notice, I believe, I get a lot more into my head (theorizing, conceptualizing, thinking about the future, plans, etc.) when this happens (perhaps as a cover for the feelings) and I end up getting like a huge overstimulation of information.  

I'm wondering... 

  • What is even loneliness?
  • What are its causes?
  • Do most people feel off and on throughout their life?
  • Is it simply part of the human condition we must get used to and accept and simply feel/work through as it comes and goes?
  • Or does it have real "medicines" that can help people overcome it totally?
  • If so, do these medicines work strictly on our interiors (like meditation and therapies), or does a "cure" for loneliness demand, at least in part (or for some people), an exterior, interpersonal medicine (i.e. developing long-term, authentic, honest, fulfilling, and deep relationships with a few people)?
    • This is a big question for me.  
  • Also, could people at different stages of their development require different "treatment" for their loneliness (i.e. some people may require more of the external/interpersonal medicine while others may require more internal medicine)?

Like, I'm familiar with Leo's take on it (at least in one of his videos, maybe not anymore) of "Don't let anyone tell you the solution to loneliness is going out and meeting more people."  

  • From my position, this is where I think nuance is required since this piece of advice could be taken poorly if someone is in a state or stage of development where being alone could be even more harmful (I'm thinking of people who go into hermit mode but in a really unhealthy way, as an example, to just avoid pain associated with others). 
  • On the other hand, I do feel there could be some sound logic here in a larger or ultimate sense; yes, maybe not everyone can or should be just sticking it out alone all the time for them to be healthy.  But, if you want to ultimately overcome loneliness, it's done by facing it head on and overcoming it alone.

What do you think?

Lots here, I know :P

Am open to discussion.

Would love to hear from people who've really tackled and wrestled with this in their lives and think/feel they've some insight into how this all works and what worked for them. 

Cheers


"Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"   --   Marry Poppins

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There's a good article rooted around evolutionary psychology that basically sums up the drive behind human behavior...

https://www.woujo.com/blog/2020/12/29/woujos-guide-to-anxiety-and-depression

Loneliness is basically an evolutionary sign that a human feels disconnected from a sense of belonging, to being part of a tribe, being loved, being appreciated. Like it or not we are not genetically wired to be loners.

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I draw an arbitrary but fun language distinction.

Alone (all-one) - to be with oneself.

Lonely -to be without oneself.

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On 12/1/2021 at 7:12 PM, Matt23 said:

 

  • What is even loneliness?
  • What are its causes?

Loneliness is essentially a dissatisfaction with the present moment .. of what is.

Causes: At its core .. a lack of gratitude and appreciate for life. 

Edited by Terell Kirby

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@Matt23

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

What is even loneliness?

Loneliness is the feeling that you have no one to share your life and experiences with. That you’re alone, uncared for, not thought of, pointless. 

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

What are its causes?

Atomisation, destruction of the community. Removal of that shared sense of connection with those around you and your neighbours. Social media. 

Quote

Do most people feel off and on throughout their life?

Surely, but some people live far more lonely lives, and as a result shorter lives, than others. Loneliness has the same impact supposedly on morality as smoking 15 a day.

1/3

alone (4).jpg

Edited by bloomer

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@bloomer That movie is so damn sad, man. Used to watch it when I was a young teenager. 


Dont look at me! Look inside!

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@Rilles

Just now, Rilles said:

That movie is so damn sad, man. Used to watch it when I was a young teenager. 

I always thought a good alternative title would be "The Real 40 Year Old Virgin" lol

@Matt23

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

Is it simply part of the human condition we must get used to and accept and simply feel/work through as it comes and goes?

Clearly loneliness is a part of the human condition. It's just starvation of human contact and intimacy. Of course you could go through your whole life on a full stomach just as you can go through you whole life surrounded by loved ones.

19 hours ago, sholomar said:

Loneliness is basically an evolutionary sign that a human feels disconnected from a sense of belonging, to being part of a tribe, being loved, being appreciated. Like it or not we are not genetically wired to be loners.

Exactly. Fact is, its a part of the human condition but it's one part that we're built to avoid. Loneliness is an emptiness, not having others in your life to share your experience. People are social animals, we are not genetically wired to be loners, we use others to confirm our realities. When someone is lonely they have no one to confirm their reality. So in a sense they are lost in reality.  This is why so many people go insane with prolonged periods of isolation.

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

Or does it have real "medicines" that can help people overcome it totally?

Not that I'm aware of. But many people self medicate when alone. Lonely people are far more likely to be alcoholics, drug addicts etc... because they're seeking an escape. 

12 hours ago, Terell Kirby said:

Loneliness is essentially a dissatisfaction with the present moment .. of what is.

Which is what leads to escapism. Check out Johann Hari's book Lost Connections. It talks about this and loneliness.

 

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

If so, do these medicines work strictly on our interiors (like meditation and therapies), or does a "cure" for loneliness demand, at least in part (or for some people), an exterior, interpersonal medicine (i.e. developing long-term, authentic, honest, fulfilling, and deep relationships with a few people)?

  • This is a big question for me.  

 

No it doesn't cure it. They're a bandaid on underlying tumor. You cure loneliness with a sense of belonging not drugging yourself like we're living in some Huxleyan dystopia lol. 

2/3

tfw.jpg

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@Matt23

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

Also, could people at different stages of their development require different "treatment" for their loneliness (i.e. some people may require more of the external/interpersonal medicine while others may require more internal medicine)?

I don't the wording "interpersonal medicine". It's not what I would constitute a medicine like loneliness is a disease. Though I do like the epidemic analogy. You're not diseased, just circumstances in your life (if you're lonely) have led to you feeling disconnected and alone. You're not diseased because of that just like you're not diseased if you're hungry and in need of food. Connection shouldn't be framed as a medicine. 

On 12/2/2021 at 0:12 AM, Matt23 said:

Like, I'm familiar with Leo's take on it (at least in one of his videos, maybe not anymore) of "Don't let anyone tell you the solution to loneliness is going out and meeting more people."  

It's not about how many people you know. It's about how many people you have a genuine heart felt connection with. You can feel completely alone in a crowd.

Loneliness isn’t fixed by listening to other people talk. You can cure your loneliness only by doing the talking yourself and—most important— cure your loneliness only by doing the talking yourself and—most important— being heard.

That's how you feel connected with people, when you feel heard by them. See picture below.

3/3

299_loneliness_too_little_of_what_sparks_a_light.jpg

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Modern society does not provide any social support outside of childhood or highschool. 
In times past humans relied on Tribe or Village for a social network. The concept of Nuclear family being the primary unit of society is relatively new in the human experience.
Most adults need to work a majority of their time to support themselves so socializing becomes secondary. You might get lucky and befriend some of your coworkers but you're not there to socialize, you're there to sell your labor. It falls to the individual to create their own social networks in their free time. A social network is now a luxury instead of a fundamental part of life. It's no wonder so many people are atomized an isolated. 

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The loneliness epidemic owes a lot to three decades of neoliberalism that has atomised people all over the planet and relentlessly promoted this agenda that we're all just individual consumers and nothing more, and that life satisfaction must primarily be drawn from accumulating wealth rather than through human connectedness.... Thatcher and Reagan sowed the seeds of the loneliness epidemic back in the 80s, and now we're reaping their bitter harvest...

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On 2021-12-03 at 1:56 PM, bloomer said:

 

Loneliness is the feeling that you have no one to share your life and experiences with. That you’re alone, uncared for, not thought of, pointless. 

Good description.

It also makes you feel worthless/inadequate.


Fu*k life.

Even if there temporarily is something nice, it always ends with pain.

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