Why are So Many People So Lonely
In a world in which there are more ways to stay in touch than ever before, why is loneliness an epidemic?
There are multiple reasons why so many people are lonely. In the past, for example, people were much more likely to settle down near the area where they were born and grew up. This meant that they had a ready-made community of relatives and old family friends, even without trying very hard. Today, we are much more likely to leave our original home and form a life somewhere else. Our increased mobility has many benefits, but one less positive aspect is that many people live in much less rooted communities than before, and it can be easy to feel lonely as a result.
Another aspect of modern life is that we are much less likely to engage in social organisations than our forebears were. There are multiple factors behind this major social change. Television and modern media offer us many opportunities to be entertained at home, so we have less need to leave the house and attend social clubs and other events. However, unfortunately this means that we are also much more likely to spend our evenings on our own. A few generations ago, people attended organisations such as their local Women’s Institute and other community groups and organisations in much larger numbers. More people were actually having face-to-face interactions with one another in the hours after work. There may have been fewer options for entertainment at home, but they took advantage of engaging with one another in a much wider variety of ways than the average family does today.
Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with far-flung friends and relatives, and it is certainly not going to disappear any time soon. However, an intense engagement with media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and so on, can give the illusion of social contact without the reality of it. It is all too easy to spend hours poring over the photographs of an old schoolfriend or a former boyfriend and girlfriend, or to get into an intense battle of words with someone on the other side of the world. Time passes quickly, and suddenly much of the day is gone, while most of our online communication probably hasn’t really been that meaningful.
It can seem difficult to break out of a cycle of loneliness, but it is not as hard as it looks. Perhaps fewer people are engaging in social organisations than before, but there are still groups to join and things to do in which anyone can meet like-minded people. Social media can play a part here, too, in bringing together individuals who would like to meet up for a park-run or form a special interest group. There are always committees and community groups crying out for members.
The first step towards combatting loneliness lies in taking control of it. Usually, loneliness is self-imposed. It may take some trial and error, but most people can take control of their own feelings of loneliness by reaching out.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
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