Essays: Loneliness, or People in Glass Boxes

“The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.” 
Charlotte Brontë

Loneliness is a particular breed of down.  It goes along with depression quite a bit, only they aren't the same thing.  Loneliness fuels depression and vice versa, but you can be desperately lonely without suffering the other symptoms of that unfortunate disease.  Or you can be so lucky as to experience both, and more.

It's not a modern problem, but it's one that the modern age has made contagion.  Gone are the days when a child purchased the house next door to his family, across the street, in the same town.  Now we go away to college.  We move across the country.  We send each other love in the form of punctuation that means a smile, or a heart, or a kiss.

And we pretend that those pixels can replace what they pretend to be.

It's no wonder depression rates are rising.  No wonder suicide is still such a problem.  People have begun to live in little boxes.  To chatter to online friends without faces because they don't know anyone around them.  No one says hello their neighbors.  No one would know you died as long as you scheduled your Twitter updates far enough in advance.

It's an extreme view.  Not everywhere is like this.  Not everyone is so lost.  Only there's just something about the modern world that keeps loneliness alive.  Is it privacy?  Are we so afraid to intrude on other people's lives that we fail to recognize when they need to be intruded on?  Is it anxiety?  Do we assume that others will reject us?  That the deep-down ache is better than the knife wound of trying and failing?

I don't have the answers.  If you figure it out, let me know, because I could use the help.  For now, loneliness is capable of remedy in only a few imperfect ways.  Pills that flatten out any feeling so the ache hides beneath a muffle.  Books that you can live in and pretend are real.  Social media that makes tenuous friends of strangers.

I'm not so cynical.  I'm not advocating that you give up.  You should never give up, because statistics say that it will always get better if it's bad.  You will find someone to love you.  This person does exist.

Only I worry that we look for comfort in the wrong places.  Cheap sex.  Mismatched relationships.  Chat rooms and social media outlets.

We want to be loved for ourselves, but we're afraid to let that out.  So we hide it--in chat handles, in blog posts, in clever nicknames and buttons and polished internet identities.

curing loneliness means reaching out

There's nothing wrong with making friends online.  But it can't be everything.  Because eventually, your heart is going to yearn to look someone in the eyes.  To touch their hand.  To sit silently in a room and simply enjoy the closeness.  

As scary as it is, it means opening yourself up.  

It's something I'm still working on.  I hope you're working on it too.  

And if you see a person sitting alone, and you fear intruding on their life--don't be afraid.  Go talk to them.  

They're probably just as afraid and as lonely as you.  

This has been an entirely random and un-book-related post from Sarcasm & Lemons.

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