16 August, 2020 — Loneliness

Can I camouflage my loneliness as a byproduct of mandatory social distancing? Or do I have to dig deeper to find the actual cause? How peculiar in this age of overpopulation, resource shortages, and crowded cities that one can feel disconnected from others. There are more of us than ever before. Yet it may be the case that we are lonelier than in the past. Why? Why in this time of non-stop digital connectivity do so many of us crave real connection? What has changed?

Is it the advent of technology? That seems counterintuitive, since technology can connect us with people we are close to when they are physically far away. Is it consumerism? Perhaps. For many of us allow our minds to be occupied with false choices and thus rob us of the time we need to form real connections. Do I want this brand of toothpaste or that color of toothbrush? Do I want a 50 inch television or a 55 inch television?

Or is it the change in social structure? Almost overnight, within one or two generations, the roles of many women and men across the world have transformed. Before, in most parts of the world, men were the providers of necessities and women the creators of life. Nicely defined roles. Nicely defined expectations. A man could feel secure in the knowledge that he was feeding the family. A woman could feel secure in the knowledge that she was the originator of the family. Man needed woman and woman needed man.

This well-delineated reality has changed for many. Now, a woman can provide the necessities as well as create life, if she chooses. Now, such a woman no longer needs a man to provide for her and take care of her and her offspring, if she opts for them. So what has become a man’s role? Does he feel needed any longer? And if he doesn’t feel needed, would he wish to be with a self-reliant woman who chooses to be with him because she wants to and not because she has to?

Is the psychological stability of society being undermined, simply because women and men no longer fit neatly into their old categories? Can we retrain our social conditioning to adapt to this new reality so that we can feel happy?

“What is my value to you if you can do everything yourself?” someone asked me once.

“Isn’t it enough that I choose to be with you every day because I wish to be with you, not because I need to be with you?” I replied.

Apparently it wasn’t.

Are more people more lonely now because a variation of this dialog plays out in their heads and out loud? Is woman’s transition from the unacknowledged economy of the home to the counted economy of the external world the reason for so much loneliness? Is our independence the reason so many of us feel alone?

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