This Is The New Loneliness

It’s a weekday evening and you’re feeling restless. You’re texting friends and you’re watching Netflix and you’re on your laptop and you’re scrolling through Tumblr or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Your attention is in ten different directions, yet there’s a tug, a tiny voice in the back of your mind. It asks: what are you distracting yourself from? You ignore. Scroll again. Click again.

You send a text: “Wanna hang tomorrow night?”

“Sure, I need to leave my apartment eventually, lol”

“L O L, me too, goddddd. Ok, let’s plan tomorrow”

Tomorrow rolls around.

“You know, can we maybe rain check on plans? I’m cozy!”

“YES, omg, I totally wanted to bail, too. PERFECT.”

Then, you two text all night. Netflix on in the background. Computer on your lap. Scroll. Click. Scroll. Click. Refresh. Scroll. Click. Text.

Wait a second. What? How is this our new normal? What are we doing with our lives? Making plans with actual human beings and then canceling in favor of a screen, Netflix, gchat, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. How is this okay? How are we accepting this?

How is this a life?

It’s not a life, actually. We cannot spend our days hunched over a screen forging a sense of human interaction. This is not what we were made for. I can guarantee all your best memories live within the moments with others. Where’s your great memory with the internet? Is this really all there is now?

When you look back on your life, will you be happy by how much Netflix you’ve watched? Will you be happy about the graveyard of plans you let fall by the wayside? Will you be happy when you’re surrounded by no one because we’ve all pushed each other away? Pushed and pushed and pushed and, in favor of what? What the hell are we pushing each other away for?

It’s the weirdest thing: our generation. We’re the least and most connected generation ever and yet if you spend some time on the internet, you see:

depression, undiagnosed, unchecked
anxiety, of the social variety
loneliness, rampant and unbelievable
sadness, like it’s a lifestyle
homebodies, like never leaving our apartments is healthy
introverts, like connection with other people is a bad thing
hate people! like it’s cool…
cancel plans! like it’s kind…
Netflix! like it’s a human being…

Do people have true mental illnesses? God, yes. Of course! But this isn’t about mental illness. People with diagnosable depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses don’t make a lifestyle of it. They don’t make a home in those diseases. They frantically fight for their life, because they must. They get help. They furiously chase their happiness.

Our generation of sadness and loneliness is of the unchecked variety. Of wallowing. Of letting ourselves be disconnected from both others and ourselves. Learning to soothe more than heal. Learning to put a band-aid on problems instead of working through and solving our problems. If something is not immediate, we don’t want it, even if it’ll make us stronger. We’re not growing as people, not really. We’re shoving away “bad feelings” we don’t want to face by clicking, refreshing, scrolling until we’ve numbed ourselves out enough. It’s addiction.

Emotional strength is earned. It cannot be earned by self-distraction. And, that’s what all of this is. DISTRACTION.

Distraction from ourselves.
Distraction from potential pain.
Distraction from our lives, those hopes, those dreams.
Distraction from vulnerability.
Distraction from compassion.
Distraction from kindness.
Distraction from… each other.

And, it is making us miserable. It really is. Take a look at your life. Take a look at how you spend your time. Are you happy? Do you have joy? When’s the last time you sat in front of a computer screen for longer than 2-3 hours and walked away feeling joyous and energized? When’s the last time a computer, a television screen, an iPad, a phone… made you feel alive? When’s the last time you felt you were loved and taken care of and healed? When’s the last time you felt strong?

We’ve taken it too far, that’s what is problematic. The internet and these devices are not wholly unhealthy, but it’s the obsession, the constant consumption, the way it breeds a lack of connection with real people. And, it does breed that.

Can all of this technology be great? Yes. But we’re not using it that way. We’re being reckless. We’re acting like none of this matters, that how we spend our days is not how we spend our lives, but it all matters and how we spend our days is exactly how we spend our lives. It is. It just is.

I think we’re afraid, but that’s the whole point of life—that facing down our fears provides for a richer experience. We are not meant to circumvent the process of healing ourselves. We need to face who we are in order to be who we are. We cannot find true connection and true love and the purity of both of those experiences while spending our days not caring about others or ourselves. To not care is to be cool now? Pizza! Netflix! Do nothing all day! Sweatpants! Homebody! Introvert! Hahahahahahahahahah, we’re all so sad and hate each other!

But, it’s not funny. None of this is.

This is your life. YOUR. LIFE. Do you get it? This is it. And you’re fucking wasting it. Wake up. Life happens in a blink. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t scroll, click, refresh it away. Be here, now. Show up. Care about shit. Care about others. Care about yourself. Be better than this. Let’s all do it. And, if we all do it: maybe it’ll be a fucking revolution. Finally.

I’m sick of this sadness. I’m sick of this loneliness. I’m sick of this disconnection from others. I’m so sick of it. Aren’t you? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer • Hit me up: Twitter & Facebook

Keep up with Jamie on Twitter