Loneliness is a bigger killer than obesity. Think about that for a second. More people die because of illnesses related to loneliness than obesity. That probably comes as a shock, especially if you consider the fact that we are living in a world that is more connected than ever before. But it is the kind of connection that matters. There is a big difference between having a virtual connection and having an actual human connection. We have reached a point where the average individual has more friends on Facebook, and more followers on Instagram and Twitter than ever before. But how many of those “friends” are actually your friends? With the ability to connect with pretty much anyone on the planet, why is it still so hard for us to make that deeper connection? Why do we engage in the virtual world but withdraw from the physical world?
It has become clear that loneliness does not come from a lack of humans around us, but rather a lack of quality interaction with those humans. And it turns out, it may be partly due to the global trend of people rejecting this interaction to “stay in and chill.” What this basically boils down to is that we are voluntarily becoming lonely! Psychology Today points to some possible reasons why such as depression, avoidance, anger, burnout, and reflection and re-centering. Let’s unpack.
The first possible cause of this disconnection and loneliness you feel is depression. If you tell yourself something enough times, your subconscious will eventually become convinced and accept it as a fact. The world has gone from mental illness being a complete taboo, to being high-fashion. We treat these illnesses as something we can self-diagnose, but the more you dwell on that initial feeling of sadness or loneliness, the more likely you are to actually become depressed.
Another possible explanation is being in a state of avoidance. The more you avoid people, the more people will avoid you. And the more comfortable you become avoiding people, the easier it will be to avoid the issues that caused this cycle in the first place. We are so used to chatting online that it makes having a conversation in real life seem like torture. It’s almost like we are losing the basic ability to interact with each other. We put in our headphones, use self checkout lanes at the grocery store, order things online, choose a seat that is farthest from anyone else in the room, and abandon a fundamental part of our human nature: human connection. I for one, would much rather engage in a group chat than actually go out and talk to those same people in person. And it’s become so easy too. Staying home alone has almost become a preference for us as a society, and the funny thing is, we endorse it. #Homealone has 1.7 million posts on Instagram, #alone has 16.1 million posts, and #withmyfriends has a minuscule 279k posts.
You may be angry. People will often times give you advice to “just ignore it,” but in reality, most of us have a pretty hard time ignoring something that truly upsets us. That is why when you search Google for “how to let it go,” 2.9 billion hits come up. Everyone has something they’re dealing with, and letting it go is simply not as easy as “just ignore it.” If you can vocalize it, do it in a healthy way. Holding on to anger evolves into much bigger issues.
Let’s face it, we are a tired species. Most of us are on the clock from the moment we wake up whether that means getting your kids to school, heading to your 8am Psychology class, finishing up that big project your boss is waiting on, or simply carrying out day to day tasks in the upkeep of your overall life. We are always busy, which kind of means we are always tired. Our minds are constantly working, and when we get to that point where we feel completely spent, the last thing we want to do is entertain people, hang out, or even be entertained. This leads to choosing to be #homealone, and eventually being lonely rather than making the effort to find those connections that will give us a sense of community and fulfillment.
REFLECTION AND RE-CENTERING
This step comes at a time when we begin to renew ourselves and possibly change perspectives. A time when we take a good hard look at our current state of mind, and make the necessary changes according to what is right for our own well-being. During this time we may start to feel disconnected from what used to feel familiar, or what should feel familiar. A lot of the time we look inward for answers, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can represent a turning point of inner growth. We just have to understand that we cannot stay in that place forever. In order to truly continue to grow, we have to look outside of ourselves and our own perspectives, and engage in the world around us. And yes, that means the people around us too!
If you think about it, it is easier to remain broken than it is to be renewed. Someone who is broken doesn’t have to put the energy into living up to a certain standard, when the only standard they hold for themselves is survival. Much like a broken toy, they welcome rust and obey deterioration, and nobody really expects anything more from them anyway. So why would they want to change? Remember your worth and the importance of sharing it with others. You never know who might need that connection just as much as you do.
Is this the story of your life? Download Hey! VINA now to break the vicious cycle and reconnect with the real world. We are on a mission to put an end to loneliness. Swipe, join communities and make plans–it just starts with one match!