Let’s all be lonely together

Link: Let’s all be lonely together


So I have some free time, so I scooted over to the Jez and was confronted with this, which is actually a book I should probably read.

OUT OF CHARACTER CONFESSION NO ONE CARES ABOUT: I am lonely. Very lonely. And it’s not always from lack of interaction, or “situational loneliness” as the book articulates-like when we move to a new area.

Maybe it comes from being socially awkward and being isolated from my peers at an early age. Maybe I’m just super unfortunate and am always in a constant state of “situational loneliness”. Meh. Beats me.

Whatever the reason, I sometimes feel devastatingly lonely, and that usually happens when I’m in a public place. I could be working at the office or at the bar; I could be in a department store dressing room or at a table with multiple friends. Hell, I could be on the dreaded Facebook seeing more and more people posting happy pictures of themselves and announcing their latest outing, relationship, or child.Then all of a sudden I get this leaden feeling in the pit of my stomach. I start feeling light-headed, my throat swells, and about two minutes later I’m trying not to start crying. If I’m alone in my house or car, I sometimes do.

I have friends. I have family. For many reasons, I don’t get to see all those people as much as I’d like to. I have hobbies I love that allow me to be social, and I work so much that idle time in my house is usually something I treasure, not try to avoid. I laugh a lot. I can say that I’m generally fairly happy and always excited to jump out of bed to start a new day.

And yet… I have an active imagination that immediately begins visualizing the lives of others that I see. I imagine their perfect relationships with loving significant others and I think of the kids I know whose phones are always ringing off the hook with people wanting to see them and talk to them. Besides my parents, my phone can go almost a week without another human being calling me. It’s childish, but I wonder why no one clamors for my company, and of course that usually begins the cycle of self-loathing.

And I identify with what the author says. Just because we are active doesn’t mean we feel like we’re wanted, needed, loved, or even a part of something bigger than ourselves. Just because we enjoy our alone time doesn’t make it any easier to see other people seemingly more liked than we are. And these feelings suck, and I wish I could will them away; I wish my rationalizing would work for once when it matters and I wish I could find solace in the idea that other people feel this way and I’m not truly “alone.” But I don’t. Instead I sit and see other people moving on to other places in life, and I see myself being left behind.

And of course the self-help gurus tell you to “get involved” and “meet new people”, two things far easier said than done when you are so ”involved” that you’re barely able to muster six hours of sleep a night. What use is being part of a community when it feels like the community doesn’t know you exist? [emphasis added]

Yeah, I reblogged the whole thing by Pandora Smiles, because it’s that good and I identify with it that much. It’s one of those posts that, when I read it, I found myself nodding along to the beat.

We like touting all the hot new and social media tools, yet what good is the latest social network when, as Pandora writes, “the community doesn’t know you exist?

It’s a real problem, and I don’t know what the answer is. I threw myself into politics and new media work. I work hard at it, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the reason I work so hard at it, and travel so much, is that when I return home, I’m all by myself. One of the people traveling with me was struck by my gregariousness; yet, I’m gregarious precisely because I hunger for that human contact. 

My divorce became final in October of last year. The worst thing about it wasn’t the breakup, though that did suck. The worst thing about it was the daunting sense of loneliness that became blindingly apparent to me. I had met and married the woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and then she was gone.

It’s not just the divorce, though. It’s the fact that I really didn’t have anyone to share this with, or to mourn this with. I can only speak for myself, yet I can’t help feeling that even as we join social networks for knitting, job leads, movies, and even book lovers, we’ve somehow forgotten how to make friends, or be friends, with the people we see every day.

It goes both ways, too: I’m constantly tracking my Twitter feed, which is mostly populated by people I know personally, but I can’t help wonder if I’m a good friend. I don’t know how to pick up the phone, call someone, and ask them how they’re doing.

Or, hell, forget the phone – if I buzz someone on Google Talk, the odds are astronomically high that after thirty seconds, the conversation comes to an awkward end, with the two of us desperately seeking an escape hatch back to safety. I don’t want to intrude; I don’t want to offend; and the end result is that every day ends with night falling upon me, stranded in the world’s most crowded desert island.

I don’t know what to do about this. All I know is that like Pandora, I’m sitting and seeing other people, not just my friends, moving on to other places in life, even places I’ve already been and would like to return to, and I see myself being left behind – and I don’t know what to do about it.

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