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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I think some of you might find this article interesting. I've never seen the loneliness epidemic so clearly laid out.

The age of loneliness is killing us | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

I particularly liked this article because the writer makes the point that social isolation was becoming a "thing" before social media. This is something I've been saying for years.

Social media simply grew out of an issue that was already prevalent and entrenched. It filled a need. Not well, of course, but people absolutely turn to social media as it provides an assuage. It wouldn't have become a consumable if there wasn't an issue to begin with. And there certainly was. It's been observed in studies that people have been losing close social connectedness steadily since the 80s.

I guess I'm looking for a general discussion among INFP about their experiences with and opinions on loneliness. We tend to be passionate and nurturing folk who are very much in tune to our lost love potential, both in friendship and romance.

Discuss! :crazy:
 

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The biggest problem for me is convenience. I've learned to adapt to my introversion, and now make choices that isolate myself.

1. Movies (aside from getting more and more expensive) have the potential a) to suck, and b) have jerks in the theater. So I watch TV or YouTube or Twitch instead.

2. I never liked the idea of drinking in bars (I do now but my wife or family members need to be with me) so I always drank at home. There was a period of time where I had drinking friends, but that's over now.

3. The TV sports experience has eclipsed the statium experience for the same reasons I don't go to theaters anymore. Plus big TVs are cheap now.

4. Facebook means I don't feel guilty about not contacting old friends, who I'm either too far away from, or just have grown apart from.

5. I have a wife and a cat around, and see her friends or either of our families, but aside from work I don't really talk to many people. This forum is great, but it shouldn't replace face to face contact.

6. Even if I have to be out in public, I can put on headphones.
 

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Thank you for posting this article, it made for a very interesting read. I think the author got it spot on: this is the age of loneliness, the age of the invidual.

I have a friend who says: 'I don't often get in touch with people, because I don't think often about other people.' How can someone not think about other people? My mind cannot comprehend this. I crave for connection, I want..no...I really need friends and certainly not the Facebook kind of friends. What I desire is a decent conversation, a shared experience, memories which I create together with the people I love.

I think the obsession with work, career, succes & money is the cause of all this. A lot of people are working so hard that they are exhausted at the end of the week. They just don't have the energy for socializing and thus they spend a lot of their time alone or with a SO. At some point it becomes a habit for them to spent so much time alone, a habit they are seemingly ok with because they contact others less & less. If you spent most of your time alone, you will automatically only fulfill your own needs. We don't share anymore, a lot of people don't consider the needs of others anymore. They don't even really know what is going on in the lives of others because despite we have phones & social media we 'don't often think about other people' thus we don't ask anymore how others are doing.

I really do think work is the problem. If I just look at the hours my friends put in a week:
-Friend 1: He's a manager. He puts in at least 55 hours a week.
-Friend 2: He's a teacher. Teaches for 35 hours a week. Exta workload at home: 15-20.
-Friend 3: She works all over the country and has to travel quite a bit. Works almost 50 hours a week.

I can see why they are tired. I can see why they just want to sit on the couch and do nothing. But being so busy with the professional dimension of your life really hurts the social dimension. Friend 1 spents more time with his co-workers than with his wife. That's just wrong isn't it? I think it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
@yippy

I think you're on to something, that materialism is mainly driving this.

I don't idealize the past because I know each era had it's major issues. I also know that I live in one of the most peaceful and prosperous times for humanity in Earth's history. I have access to an abundance of food and hot, clean water flows out of faucets in my home. My family and I have never experienced war and are protected, in the case of misfortune, by a strong welfare system and insurance.

Yet I cannot help but notice how disconnected I am and how disconnected the people around me are. The amount of time that people are spending alone, pursuing their own self-absorbed corner of life, is incredible. And I cannot will myself into being okay with it by seeking enlightenment in yoga asanas or adding another picture to Pinterest.

I remember hearing my grandmother talk about how everyone in their neighborhood new one another and socialized at garden parties and barbeques. My neighborhood is a paranoid wasteland compared to that vision.

I spend a lot of time thinking about (worrying about) how I will forge meaningful connections with people in my adult life. It seems like this formidable task whereas in other generations it seemed to be a given.

Granted, I haven't tried all that hard yet to break free of my isolation. My teeth and pov clothing have pretty much inhibited me all throughout adolescence and into my twenties. If I spend all of this money getting beautiful and still can't find a partner and some friends I'm going to give up and go full-Hermit. Like some serious Desert Fathers, forest Buddhist, ascending-into-the-light shit.
 

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"One of the tragic outcomes of loneliness is that people turn to their televisions for consolation: two-fifths of older people report that the one-eyed god is their principal company. This self-medication aggravates the disease."

I identify with this. Since long ago I found that I'd rather binge-watch anime than to go out with my friends. But although I thought I enjoyed doing that more, of the rare moments that I'm dragged out of my hermit life, I surprising found that watching a crap movie with people who made crap jokes and gossiped about people I don't care for was quite refreshing.

We are disconnected but only because we ourselves made it to be so. I personally cannot stand an overwhelming amount of people but human interaction is something we all need. It is only because we are rare that we feel disconnected from people with different motivations and goals. So I decided to stop thinking that everyone is wasting their time doing stupid things I can't see myself doing.

But with all that said, I don't see being alone as a disease. Binge-watching anime all day is perfectly acceptable according to me. But distancing yourself from people you deemed not to be "deep" thinkers and then feeling sad afterwards is not the way to go. Though I am terribly guilty of this as well. "Deep" thinkers are very very very hard to come by, so I become friends with people to relax and keep my thinking to myself.

Now that I'm thinking about this, I think part of our loneliness comes from sculpting ourselves into fairies who are much different from everyone else. But when it comes down to it, we're all essentially quite the same. (Though secretly I'm still going to be a fairy while attempting to be social.)

But who cares about my point of view. I'm still in school and living in my parents' house. I have no clue what the world is like. :D
 

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The article made me somehow surprisingly connect to what I the other week learned from a book called, mhrrm.... Understanding Dogs. It was about how important the pack was to dogs, how they panick when left alone unless trained from an early age to be alone. That they fear being attacked by intruders or whatnot when divided from the pack, and how will they find food all on their own? so they manifacture a wall of bitten appart stuff that smells of their people around them, for comfort and protection. And the presence of their flock makes them calm, best when they are in the lowest rank, below humans and cats, because that means they can relax and let others decide, and be provided for. Perhaps we are not all that different. We become anxious and scared and suspicious when alone too much, and surround ourselves by tv and the internet for comfort and protection, and perhaps we (or at least many of us) are not happiest when independently depending only on ourselves for all our needs, but when there is a safe social net of others to depend on and who it is ok to depend on?

I agree that money is largely the problem, people rather make a little more money to use on luxuries than have time to spend with friends and family most of the time in my experience... it feels like a brainwash of some kind. I know not everyone have the choice to work parttime, but those that do, I've not met all that many that prefer to do so, even if the money would be well enough for a basic standard of living.

But I also think the culture of individualism and independentness are a cause. I have some people around me to talk to every now and then, but there are very few I at all feel comfortable depending on in any way, perhaps just my mother and my boyfriend really. Depending both emotionally and for practical help. It feels like nowadays here it is more common with a shallower kind of friendship where you can know someone for years and still not ask a favour without feeling guilty, or perhaps that is just me? Not being allowed to expect anything from anyone. Freedom gained and (tried to translate and got the answers connection, community, fellowship, solidarity, pick and choose) lost. Its like the community was to strong before, putting chains on people, and when it tilted towards individualism and independentness, it tilted all over, way too far.

I feel this as an imbalance in society and also within myself, being an introvert etc. I want it both, dependence and independence, solidarity and community, but I also want to be totally free to make up my own mind... it is difficult to merge into something that works in life.
 

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I also know that I live in one of the most peaceful and prosperous times for humanity in Earth's history. I have access to an abundance of food and hot, clean water flows out of faucets in my home. My family and I have never experienced war and are protected, in the case of misfortune, by a strong welfare system and insurance.
There are societies in the past that had a lot more freedom and security than what we do today, so it's a myth that society progresses linearly there is regression also. Today is far from peaceful and prosperous there are huge concentrations of power over us like the state, corporations and the media which have a great deal of control over us, that spy on us, that enact force on us, that take power away from us and make it impossible for us to control our own lives. There is also a great deal of tension, rivalry, war and competition between states, there is the possibility of destroying ourselves through nuclear war, and if not then we are also impacting serious harm on the climate and on ecosystems that we need to sustain life on the planet. If anything this is probably the most oppressive age in human history.
 

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In the grand scheme of things, this is just a hurdle. We have gone to great lengths to improve quality of life, length of life, social acceptedness, interconnectivity, and the like, so of course there must be consequences. From the massive changes made in the last half-century to further those goals, this is an unfortunate trade-off. In time, I hope that a solution will be found.

However, I do think it's exacerbated by capitalism. Capitalism treads the line of preaching greediness and self-reliance, and is heavily, heavily individual-success oriented. While this might be commendable in numerous situations, it does hamper our social lives. In the gaps between 60-hour work weeks looking for another, unsatiating promotion or bonus, there're little times for friends. I mean, it's no wonder that the US is the most depressed first-world nation (figures hover around 10%).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
There are societies in the past that had a lot more freedom and security than what we do today, so it's a myth that society progresses linearly there is regression also. Today is far from peaceful and prosperous there are huge concentrations of power over us like the state, corporations and the media which have a great deal of control over us, that spy on us, that enact force on us, that take power away from us and make it impossible for us to control our own lives. There is also a great deal of tension, rivalry, war and competition between states, there is the possibility of destroying ourselves through nuclear war, and if not then we are also impacting serious harm on the climate and on ecosystems that we need to sustain life on the planet. If anything this is probably the most oppressive age in human history.
As an avid student of history, I completely disagree.

This era is unprecedented in terms of sheer amount of people able to access healthcare, nutritious food, clean water, and be protected from violence. Life was extremely harsh, dirty, and short for the majority of people on Earth until this point. That's if you even managed to live to see puberty, which 1/2 people didn't.

While you bring up valid and serious issues with modern society, they do not negate this fact. As well, they pale in comparison to the violence, illness and starvation the majority of previous civilizations endured.

http://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/most-peaceful-time-in-history3.htm

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111904106704576583203589408180
 
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The article made me somehow surprisingly connect to what I the other week learned from a book called, mhrrm.... Understanding Dogs. It was about how important the pack was to dogs, how they panick when left alone unless trained from an early age to be alone. That they fear being attacked by intruders or whatnot when divided from the pack, and how will they find food all on their own? so they manifacture a wall of bitten appart stuff that smells of their people around them, for comfort and protection. And the presence of their flock makes them calm, best when they are in the lowest rank, below humans and cats, because that means they can relax and let others decide, and be provided for. Perhaps we are not all that different. We become anxious and scared and suspicious when alone too much, and surround ourselves by tv and the internet for comfort and protection, and perhaps we (or at least many of us) are not happiest when independently depending only on ourselves for all our needs, but when there is a safe social net of others to depend on and who it is ok to depend on?

I agree that money is largely the problem, people rather make a little more money to use on luxuries than have time to spend with friends and family most of the time in my experience... it feels like a brainwash of some kind. I know not everyone have the choice to work parttime, but those that do, I've not met all that many that prefer to do so, even if the money would be well enough for a basic standard of living.

But I also think the culture of individualism and independentness are a cause. I have some people around me to talk to every now and then, but there are very few I at all feel comfortable depending on in any way, perhaps just my mother and my boyfriend really. Depending both emotionally and for practical help. It feels like nowadays here it is more common with a shallower kind of friendship where you can know someone for years and still not ask a favour without feeling guilty, or perhaps that is just me? Not being allowed to expect anything from anyone. Freedom gained and (tried to translate and got the answers connection, community, fellowship, solidarity, pick and choose) lost. Its like the community was to strong before, putting chains on people, and when it tilted towards individualism and independentness, it tilted all over, way too far.

I feel this as an imbalance in society and also within myself, being an introvert etc. I want it both, dependence and independence, solidarity and community, but I also want to be totally free to make up my own mind... it is difficult to merge into something that works in life.
Interdependence, with healthy boundaries :) I agree it's tricky to find the right balance. It's so important though.
 

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"I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don't know why, some people fill the gaps but other people emphasize my loneliness." - Anaïs Nin

I've had a difficult time when it comes to socializing, meeting people, making friends, and keeping said friends if I actually make it past the acquaintance stage. Part of my isolation is my fault, but I also blame my surroundings and inability to find people who can relate. I'm not one for drinking or smoking, I can't see myself hanging around at a bar..I'm not a party goer and I prefer the company and solitude of films, music, and books. I wish that bookstores and libraries were more friendly towards the idea of discussion, because I'd love to meet fellow-minded people who enjoy literature and quiet atmospheres, but since everyone keeps to themselves, for the most part, it's difficult for someone to initiate, especially if there's already anxiety involved.

I personally don't care for social media. I do have a Facebook, mainly out of 'convenience'...but I only have 19 friends on said profile and I only really keep in touch with about 3 people I have on my list. If anything, social media has exacerbated my isolation because it's much easier to stay online and be connected than it is to make plans, meet with people offline, know what's going on in their lives and such. It all feels relatively fake, since people exaggerate the best qualities of their lives and in turn it causes me to feel worse, because I play into the facade of people having more enriching lives than the one I'm living. I feel like this continues to get worse and worse as the years accumulate; I don't see social media eradicating any time soon, and it doesn't help to see articles, or people mentioning how strange it is to associate with a person who doesn't spend a majority of their time on pitiful networking sites.

I wish there were an easier way to get to know people, but I'm out of luck.
 

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with technology the world get smaller and smaller.

most people still go out and hand out with friends more than ever connections is still big and everything.......

i don't know what I'm saying is really on topic....... I'm taking the title literally "age of loneliness "

i skimmed through the article but i had absolutely no idea what the person was saying? is it that this age is very lonely? i could disagree with that with hundreds of counter argument examples......

idk lol what is the article really trying to say? ( this is why i hate trick wording articles because then i'll have to be like " oooooooh so instead of what the title says the article is really talking about something that has nothing to do with the title") lol
 

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There are these 2 Belgian psychiatrists, Paul Verhaeghe and Dirk de Wachter, who made their thoughts public lately on this increasing problem.

It's in dutch but perhaps @yippy might find it interesting.

Modern Minds - Aflevering 6: De Tijd
 
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I actually think that money and other mentioned things aren't the reason, but rather the distraction. I feel like in the west (where the loneliness concept is more common) is a result of avoidance of the self. We rather isolate our selves from others, because we can see our own reflection in them. The faults in ourselves, the problems, the pains. Money, work, social image, social media, are just distractions that keep us busy with impersonal stuff so we don't have to look inside.

Or it's just one part of it.

Great article though. Thank you for sharing :)
 

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I totally agree that Hobbes’s pre-social condition was a myth btw. Rousseau ftw.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
There are these 2 Belgian psychiatrists, Paul Verhaeghe and Dirk de Wachter, who made their thoughts public lately on this increasing problem.

It's in dutch but perhaps @yippy might find it interesting.

Modern Minds - Aflevering 6: De Tijd
Thank you so much for sharing!

I don't speak Dutch but I am reading about Paul Verhaeghe's ideas now through other sources. This is right up my alley in terms of interest.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@Shameless Nation

Amazing perspective. That hadn't crossed my mind.

I recently observed that my misanthropic, people-avoiding episodes are likely really self-hating episodes in disguise.
 

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Some of that is cultural. I’ve lived in several EU countries for many years and I’ve noticed huge cultural differences with USA. Europeans are more social, touchy-feely, it’s normal for men to hug & kiss, whereas in the US you’ll be instantly tagged as homosexual. “Personal space” in the US is much larger and well guarded.

I can’t really explain why, I just sense it intuitively, and I have a different personality when I’m in EU. Men/women interaction is also different.

In France you’ll go to the bakery for a loaf of bread and can’t get away from all the chatter with complete strangers. Everything there is a social event, whereas in the US it’s very easy to spend a day with little human interaction. Also, in the US I sense that many people use pets as a substitute for human affection. I go for exercise in the local park and notice people talking to their dog, and I’m always tempted to say -- Hello, dogs don’t speak English!
 
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