The Rise of Quiet Loneliness
The Rise of Quiet Loneliness
Life is amazing, yet so many are quietly depressed. We are more connected than ever, and lonelier than ever.
We have everything we need, according to the current culture, but what is the culture’s understanding of our needs? Whatever your current problem is, the current culture thinks it can only be solved by spending money or taking a pill. Are you overweight? Well, there is a pill for that. It’s basically meth, which is an appetite suppressant. And its only legal if you buy from big pharma. It’s illegal if you buy it off the street, because these are big pharma’s competitors. After all, you can’t beat them at their own game. If the current culture cared more about your health and wellness than they do about profit, then doctors would recommend a more natural diet and exercise. But there is less money to be made from going to a gym and eating less food. The major food corporations profit from those who overeat so they have no interest in your welfare either.
Are you unhappy? Well there are several pills for that. Or maybe you can buy your way out of depression. Finding more fulfillment in your life sounds like a lot of work. That new sports car must be the solution. The advertisers told you so. Maybe you just need that new gym membership. Planet Fitness has free pizza on Fridays. This is brilliant. You lose a little weight throughout the week, then gain it back on Friday. Maybe Alcoholics Anonymous could start serving two fingers of whiskey to reward a month of sobriety. When did everything become about addicting your customers?
Is it any wonder that so many struggle to find time to cook a healthy meal and spend 60 minutes exercising when we spend 8 hours trapped in our fluorescent cubicles? Our cities are constructed so that we drive instead of walk or bike to work. I feel this is intentionally engineered to keep people so busy they can’t find the time to question the nature of our current culture. For many of us, it has exceeded 8 hours as work now follows us home via email and cell phones. We are never truly free to escape our jobs thanks to an increase in accessibility due to technology. The technology that supposedly was going to free up our time; instead we are shackled by the invisible chains of wi-fi and 5G.
So now we work all day and we are mentally checked in at night too. Our parents used to go home from work. We have the “fortune” to be able to bring our work home. It sure is such a privilege to work longer hours and receive less pay as the purchasing power of the dollar has been dropping for decades. Thanks for all the quantitative easing. Even the Fed wants an easy out. But at least you can’t email while you drive so then we are free to zone out to music or better yet, podcasts. Just you wait, when cars are driving autonomously, even those moments of our lives will be captivated by work. It’s all about maximizing productivity after all. If your company doesn’t do this, your competitors will and you will be left behind. Life moves fast.
Everyone fears being left behind. I am beginning to look forward to it. Someday I will be the old man that they say doesn’t get technology. I’ll say they don’t get nature or peace and quiet. Both of which are under attack and increasingly rare. Now I long for a day where I can unplug from the phone when I want, but that’s a few years off. It always is right?
We are all quietly lonely. Genuine conversation is harder and harder to come by when everyone has their heads down in their digital world. We talk about augmented reality coming someday, but we are already living it. Everyone is afraid of being rejected for who we truly are, so we wear a mask. We stick to safe topics like weather, sports, the Bachelor. We are all just copies of copies; having the exact same conversation as many others across the nation. That is why we love the internet. Anonymity allows us to let our freak flag fly. Except likes and upvotes ruin this last bastion of honesty as we seek validations in the form of karma or retweets. Maybe we are lonely because we no longer have real genuine connections.
So, our culture doesn’t leave much time or energy past being the cog in our corporate machine. We have so little free time and much of it gets wasted on TV, video games or mindlessly perusing social media on our smart phones. Many turn to drink or drugs to numb ourselves from this twisted reality. We judge those, but we’ve all become addicts. We are addicted to dopamine and the advertisers are exploiting our attachment to our devices. Facebook, Reddit, Candy Crush and so many more have found a way to mainline dopamine to us through our smartphones. We’ve become hardwired to the matrix. I see many in society essentially as cyborgs. Our phones are a part of us now. We have them with us everywhere and fear being away from them. We sleep next to them. We record moments through them. They remember our passwords. They provide turn by turn directions for us to anywhere we want to go. There is nowhere left to explore. Many people don’t know how to live without a smartphone anymore.
I just hope some of us are aware of this and are weary of the repercussions of our digital society. Be mindful of your surroundings and appreciate every beautiful moment. Take a few minutes every day to unplug. Meditate and appreciate the sound of silence. It is endangered. Read a book occasionally. Get outside and enjoy nature. And for the love of all that is holy, start talking to your fellow man when you go out for dinner.