Connected, but Alone

Loneliness

Loneliness hurts, emotionally and physically.

Maybe my flu is exacerbating this feeling. When I’m sick, I feel psychologically vulnerable and needy. Perhaps I’m just an oddball and am alone with this feeling. It’s not that I act all helpless or whiney, but I do crave a bit of attention.

Feeling lonely is very different from being alone. You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely, and you don’t have to feel lonely when you’re alone. These are not mutually exclusive.

There have been times when I’ve felt so lonely that I thought it would crush me. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit hesitant to live by myself – the isolation would make me feel like I’m the only person in the world. But even now, living at home with my parents, I sometimes feel so disconnected. I really can’t decide which is worse.

That’s when we resort to technology – to compete for attention with our smartphones and the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, and other social media. Contradictorily though, technology is actually a contributing factor to this feeling of loneliness. Um, what?

As much as technology connects us globally, giving us unlimited access to people and information, it divides us locally. How many times have we been out with our friends, only to be absorbed in our phones instead of engaging in human interaction? We choose to stare into our small, glowing screens rather than look our friends in the eyes and talk to them. The vast sea of status updates, comments, messages, and notifications buzzing away at our phones are so distracting and mesmerizing that it feels awful to ignore them (like the girl who fell off the pier checking her Facebook). We begin to treat our real life friends like our virtual friends: texting them when they’re sitting right next to us. It’s crazy, I know. It’s almost as if we have forgotten what it really means to talk to someone face-to-face.

Social media also gives you the luxury of showcasing yourself as you want to be seen. Your good sides, the best sides. You choose your words wisely, and post only the great things in your life. We only show our edited and highlighted reels – the happy pictures, the crafted personas, the witty posts – but they never tell the full story. You don’t see the struggles, the unpleasantries, the messiness. Unless you don’t really care how you’re perceived, everything you post is filtered, controlled, and well-phrased. So naturally, it’s easy to start assuming that everyone else has it better. Eventually it might start to make you feel terrible and lonely. Oh, look at so-and-so …they get to go to these amazing parties and vacations, and I’m stuck here. Why can’t I be like them? We just want to know that we’re not the only ones left out.

Before Internet and smartphones, people communicated face-to-face or on the phone. Interaction was less frequent, and we were not as uncomfortable with being alone. But technology has made us feel the need to be continuously and instantaneously connected. How many of us felt upset or ignored if someone did not text us back immediately? I admit that I’ve been guilty of this. Oh, how we have evolved into such insecure beasts.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my small, glowing screen. It gives me access to endless information at my fingertips. But it seems like the vast majority have replaced this with face-to-face contact, and technology has exacerbated this feeling of loneliness. Technology is a tool – we can use it, or it can use us. Don’t let it turn us into needy monsters or emotionless robots. Live your life – go out and do things. Put that phone down, and give others the attention they deserve. Those status updates, comments, tweets, likes – they can wait. Engage in social human interaction, and squash those feeling of loneliness.

Gee, this is what happens when I’m sick. I tend to overthink and ramble. My brain really needs to shut up sometimes. Gosh, I hate being sick.

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2 thoughts on “Connected, but Alone

    • I know! I’ve been sufficiently drugged up and finally sound like a normal human being. We should get together soon so we don’t put those cookies and Christmas cards to waste! 😛

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