Unfolding a New Kind of Loneliness

Ever wonder if you’re turning into an old fogy?  Has intimate conversation morphed into sound bites?  Are social exchanges edited versions of our humanness?

We’re heading into a new kind of loneliness.  Careening screenward with eyes unfocussed, half-shut or half-seeing, we clack away at our keyboards wanting to share.  Writing done, bills paid, appointments input and emails answered, on to addictive sites.

Yesterday, I was lunching with a friend who is a mother.  As I waited for her, another mother and daughter arrived and sat at a table in my line of vision.  They ordered beverages only and the daughter pulled out her IPad.  For the entire hour and a quarter, the mother sat looking at the rest of us while her daughter responded to Face Book and emails.  I could see the screen.

They didn’t converse even when it was time to leave.  The daughter simply closed her IPad and began putting on her coat.  Mother stood up to pay the bill.

At the time my friend arrived, I had drawn her attention to the pair.   Sharing my sadness, my friend said, “Guess it’s about knowing when to speak up.”  This friend and I have shared many experiences with each other about chiseling at our own victim-hood tendencies.   Neither of us find it pleasant observing it in others.

Then, just this morning, a breakthrough.  Ironically.

A male Face Book friend of mature vintage with an astute mind, shared a video from a Generation Y website called Elite Daily.   It is filled with promise.   You’ll notice it was even chosen as Staff Pick Of The Day by Vimeo.

Speak Up!

Chat Rooms can be moved back into our homes.

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19 thoughts on “Unfolding a New Kind of Loneliness

  1. It’s a little ironic that I sit here using technology to watch a video that tells me o get away from technology and contacts, in favour of conversation and real friends. We thought that computers and the WWW were helping people feel less lonely because of the contacts they made with others when it looks like the reverse may have been true.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Yes, I agree with you, David. It’s a double-edged sword. I, myself am able to stay in touch with so many dear friends (REAL friends) via Facebook, for example – that I would have lost contact with in my move across the globe.

      And Amy, in my humble opinion (having been a parent, myself – I am loathe to judge other parents), it’s still up to the parents to raise their children with some sense of propriety. If we give them everything just because others do, does that make it right? “Make” them acceptable to peers? My girls, to this day, put their phones away when we are conversing; certainly when we are in public. And yes, they were not raised with iPhones in their hand (they’re nearer 30 than 3), but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Just more challenging, I would imagine.

      Anyway, great post; thought-provoking.

      • It’s entirely possible that you just captured and summarized the essence of my friend’s comment, Bela. The scene at the restaurant caused me to think back about being a daughter. How did I do the same thing albeit not with technology? It’s amazing how easily I made assumptions – riding on my mother’s love and patience, knowing it was there. It’s astonishing how my youth blotted out the awesomeness that this woman gave life to me. She signed up for a 24/7 contract that was too one-sided too often!

  2. Agreeing with everybody but when you live way out here, working from home, no daily contact except your husband coming home after being away 13 or 14 hour a day, and the old people twice a week and a trip to town every 10 days or so, it is nice to be able to catch up with you and discover new things, like this vid, Tho I have to say if one of my children or grandchildren pulled out his phone (or ipad) when we were out to lunch together!!.. well they wouldn’t.. it would be awful.. c

    • It’s all about managing technology so it works for us – not it managing us, Cecilia. I’m less isolated than you, but technology is such a contributor to a freer lifestyle that I’d be in agony without it. Remember when we had to write cheques to pay bills, write letters, address envelops and keep a supply of postage stamps?

      And…well…I won’t even go into having to shuffle cards…! 😀

  3. LIke everything else, it’s the middle way isn’t it…This is the balance I’ve tried to achieve during my tea-break from blogging.
    Technology gives us so much when used with common sense and a sense of proportion. – and good manners – thinking of your lunch observing …Loved the video, such clarity.

    • Balance, balance – it does reign supreme, Valerie. I wonder if the pendulum can be relied upon. In 1966, I was in Paris, in Montmartre, where young people were lounging on the steps of the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. Pairs of lovers strewn over the ascending steps into the sanctuary of confessionals, lost in lust and unconcerned about voyeurism. Being a young woman of the Canadian Prairies, I was shocked at the audacity and brassiness. Now? I just might cheer!

      I miss you. Must come for tea – it’ll be after Aquafit. Don’t fuss, I’m avoiding sugar!

    • Odd, Kim, we were so enamoured with taking our lives back when we suddenly had telephone answering machines. We could be a customer in a store and the phone call had to wait until the customer was looked after. Now? People think they have to respond to everything – phone calls, texts, emails, tweets. What are we doing? Manage it, Peeps!

      Yesterday, I had the Internet Provider repairman come to my home to check a problem. While here, his IPhone rang and he immediately answered it! It was his boss who kept him for 10 minutes talking schedule strategies! The repairman never said, “I’m with a client right now.” He made no usual attempts to shorten the conversation. I was left looking out my window wondering how long I would remain a patient, older woman who had nothing better to do than wait out his committee meeting to finish in MY office!

      It was rude and completely unnecessary. He could have finished the job in five minutes and gone to his truck to talk to his boss.

  4. I think loneliness is a state of mind and generally self-inflicted.

    Being an introvert, I am admittedly more comfortable self-editing. But I do this face-to-face (or try to) as well as online. Yes, we all try to craft a particular self-image to share with others, and sometimes that self-image takes quite different forms with different groups of people. I find nothing terribly new about this.

    I do agree that the word “friend” can mean a multitude of different things. And for those young people who have perhaps not had the experience of different levels of friendship, I see where they may not fully grasp the differences between friends, lovers, family, and simple acquaintances. And everyone needs to learn common courtesy. The young kid with the iPad should have been called out for her rude behavior. Then again, perhaps she and her mother had nothing to say to each other. Perhaps they had been fighting. Perhaps the iPad was a line of defense between them. If not, then the mother should assert her need for acknowledgement and conversation.

    I’m still enjoying social media and online communication immensely. For me it provides a means of expanding my horizon and having meaningful conversations with people half a planet away. It also means that I am more inclined to initiate a conversation because I don’t have to worry if I’m interrupting someone’s bath, coffee, nap, or regeneration time.

    I rarely feel anything resembling loneliness, except, ironically, sometimes when in the presence of people. I can think of many times when I wanted to flee to the silence of my empty home.

    • I grin, Linda, as I see your “writer’s mind” click in. I also thought of possible reasons for the silence between mother and daughter. My first was a family tragedy. The daughter was going to do her family thing with her mom. Unless the family were on face book, twitter and in videos. A fight? Boredom? (Mother never even picked up a newspaper or magazine and a bunch were near her.) The mother noticed my curiosity and would just slip her eyes away from mine – giving no clue about her feelings. I hoped she’d have some humour about it having seen someone aware…

      My score on the Myers Briggs test shows me in the center of extrovert/introvert. And I’ve taken it a few times. So I can swing either way- depending on my objective in being with people. No matter the reason for being “out there”, I love coming home to my sanctuary. I need restoration and thoroughly enjoy lots of quiet and peace. Most of my socializing is done with one friend at a time – or a small group of people. I figure if I’m going to be with people, I want to be in a setting where I can hear, speak to and have some depth with the folks. Light conversation is okay for a while, but when it loses its grip on me, I leave.

      I’m sounding like a broken record, but I LOVE technology. However, I watch who’s managing whom. (Is that grammatically correct? 😀 )

  5. I’m far from being introverted–but I agree with Linda on a LOT of things.
    And you’ll note it’s taken me eons to respond to this one….and I’m only doing it to avoid responding to the NEW post which has me going “hmmm…..” A LOT.

    I like being alone. And I don’t much like people. *laughing* Let me say I adore helping others and being used that way–but that’s my ‘people fix’ for the week. I’m done and I like my solitude. I arrange my life to assure I get that solitude. And apparently I’d make a better monkey than I do a human. The thought of 150 intimate relationships makes me wanna throw up. LOL But maybe that’s because I see that ‘intimate relationship’ differently than the fella is defining. Dunno. 50 seems like 48 too many for me! 😉
    Do I edit what I say here, in the cyber world–good grief I’d hope so!! Just as I’m editing what I say in the notsocyberworld (thank GOODNESS for that skill being learned!). Do I make up stuff so I get attention and ‘friends’? Notsomuch….but I don’t buy into that social networking deal, mostly because 50 seems like 48 is too many! I’m just not that interested in feeding my ego in that way. I have plenty of other ways it gets fed, obviously….it ain’t starvin’!! LOL Seriously–I’ve stayed AS far away from any social network as possible. My fear is I’ve inadvertently hit a button that’s included me somewhere and I’ll suddenly be ‘friends’ with a bazillion people–no freakin’ way……uh uh….not happening…. I can’t/won’t keep up with some ‘social norm’ of having so many cows on my farm or tweeting my whereabouts as I’m being drug from one spot to another. C’mon….. I get cranky at google earth showing a corner of my house! :-/ Wanna see my house? Get up and get yourself here. You can have coffee on the patio with me. Give me a bit of warning, though…. *ahem*
    I say I’m a ‘private’ person. WPIML says I can be a secretive person sometimes–other times I’m an open book cover to cover.
    *laughing* I’m a fun read, actually.
    I do agree with some of the video. Today’s kiddos are creating their own loneliness and misery. (didn’t we all) They have a tool to ‘feel good’ (didn’t we, too!) and they continue to use it and lose opportunities to make a different sort of connection (as did we.).
    Lemme tell ya where that iPad woulda been had that been my kiddo. And yes, I ran through the possible scenario’s for it happening that way……..as I’m prone to do! However, my child talks with me come hell or high water. LOLOL Ask her what happens when she tries to give ME the silent treatment in a public place and she’ll turn red and tell ya the story! Yup–she won’t do that one twice! Hahahahaha.

    • As I read your welcome comment, Mel (You know I love receiving the threads of your expressive and wear-worthy fabric!) the words came crashing through: “Careful how you use this powerful tool”. It’s so human for us to take something that connects us beyond belief and start using it abusively and in an over-indulgent manner. We’re so full of behaviours that divert us from looking at ourselves.

      Centuries ago, the wise old Desert Fathers and Mothers poured on the concept of observing ourselves. Good grief, these Sufis didn’t have much to obsess over – camels, water, land and tent – and whether the supply “train” from wherever would make it to their oasis. Now hundreds of things uncork addictions daily. Observe ourselves? You bet! – and that’s what you do, Mel. We all have to stop and check what we’re fussing over. Centering on self does NOT mean “be self-centered”.

      Those diversions and addictions eat up our natural desire, ability and need to Love. Giving and receiving.

      I can just hear Divine bells ringing: “Enjoy the new tools. Are you using them appropriately?!”

      And it’s all up to us. The you-s and the me-s.

      Gotta go! Got some work to do! 😀

      (Hope this took your mind off convalescence for a moment or two!)

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