ell phone calls, text messages, e-mails, online social networks, chat rooms-there has never been a time when the means of communicating were so numerous mass connection, many people--young and old-feel very lonely. Why?
In their book Loneliness--Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, researchers John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick thoroughly address the subject of loneliness. They refer to a study that says that "increased Internet use can increase social isolation as well as depression where it replaces more tangible forms of human contact."
The hectic pace of life imposed by modern society is hardly conductive to warm human contact. A smile and the affection that can be seen in a person's eyes cannot generally be conveyed over the phone or through a message on a computer screen.
The above can be true in the workplace but even more so within the family circle. In many homes family members come and go without sharing meals or conversations. Adolescent children have their own computer and live virtually isolated from the rest of the family. Ironically, in spite of their electronic communication gadgets, many youngsters feel lonely.
These days, even the bonds of marriage can be threatened by feelings of loneliness. Lack of communication between marriages partners can b ring about a situation in which the two lead parallel lives, moving in lines that seldom meet. A feeling of being alone while living with a marriage mate is one of the most distressing forms of loneliness.
Single partners in particular may have to contend with feelings of loneliness. The world of mass communication, among many other things, can cut off companionship with their children, causing feelings of aloneness to increase. Also, many single people long to have a companion, but their emotional needs remain unfulfilled.
Loneliness has become a social evil that can contribute to alcoholism, overeating, drug abuse, promiscuous sexual behaviour, an even suicide. It is therefore important to identify the causes of loneliness. Taking this first step can lead to success in coping with the problems.
Loneliness is not the same as solitude. Rather, according to the dictionary, loneliness "more often suggests isolation accompanied by a longing for company." The same dictionary explains that solitude can refer to the situation of "one who by wish....is cut off from normal contacts."
So, solitude can be desirable under some circumstances. Many often seek it for prayer or meditation. Loneliness, on the other hand, is a painful feeling. What can cause feelings of loneliness?
In big cities thousands --even millions --of people live in close proximity. Yet, paradoxically, this cramming of people together engenders widespread loneliness. The hustle and bustle of city life can prevent a wealth of people from really getting to know their neighbours. Hence, city dwellers end up living among strangers. The all-too-common distrust of strangers and the desire to protect one's privacy may indeed play a big role in the incidence of loneliness in big cities.
· Inhuman work methods- The way many large business concerns and industries are managed has led their employees at all levels to feel lonely and inadequate. Workers often experience unrelenting pressure and stress. Moreover, within large companies, the systematic relocation of staff creates feelings of insecurity, isolation, and loneliness among workers. Commenting on a spate of suicides among the personnel of some corporations, a news resource said that many workers of developed countries feel pushed beyond their limits by the pace of economic change.
· Cold communication- Some of us may find that people make less of an effort to see you, as they believe that texting, e-mailing, and chatting online is enough. But it only makes us feel lonelier. Communication ability is bound to decline as cell phones and other devices are now getting between people.
· A changed environment- The economic crisis has caused widespread mobility, obliging people to relocate so as to keep their jobs and find work. Change of residence wrenches people away from their neighbours, their friends, their schools, colleges, and sometimes their family. Those who are thus uprooted like a plant has been transplanted but has left its roots behind.
· Loss of a loved one- The death of a marriage mate leaves a huge void in the life of the surviving mate. This can be especially true of a person who has nursed his or her spouse over a long period. Feelings of total emptiness often occur.
· Divorce, separation, unwanted singleness-A divorce or separation often leaves in its wake feelings of loneliness and failure. Children commonly suffer the most, much more than were previously realized. Some experts believe that children of divorce are more likeable to become lonely adults. Those who are unmarried inasmuch as they cannot find a suitable marriage mate commonly experience periods of loneliness. Such feeling may be intensified when others make tactless remarks, such as , "Wouldn't you be happier married?" Single parents too experience loneliness. Parenthood involves not only joys but also problems; single parents have to come up with these problems without a partner to consult.
· Old age and youthful inexperience- The elderly may often feel lonely, even if they are not neglected by family members. Relatives or friends may be able to visit occasionally, but what about the other times--perhaps the days or weeks when no one visits? At the other end of the age scale, young people commonly suffer loneliness. Many become addicted to solitary recreation--to watching TV, playing video games, and spending countless hours alone in front of their computers. Is it possible to find a solution to this existing problem? Yes, we can cope with loneliness.
Steps to overcoming loneliness:
- Develop a positive outlook
- Limit isolated recreation, such as TV viewing, playing games on gadgets or computers
- Seek friends who share your values, including people not your own age
- Seek a marriage mate if you are interested and self-dependent
- Don't get into the habit of isolating yourselves and shying away from others
The Chief Editor, Writers' Diary