I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be lonely at this time in human history.
When we are all so seemingly 'connected' all the time, what is loneliness made of for us all?
How do we experience it, when in all reality we can reach out and 'touch' someone through our computer or phone at any moment?
Is it different to be lonely right now than it ever has been in the past, and how so?
And…are we lonely when we don't even realize it, so caught up in our online lives and over scheduled existences that we don't even realize how much we've lost?
I love to be alone, but I realized the other night than even while I am sitting watching zombie movies and drawing, I am constantly engaged with email and social media in some capacity. This makes it so that I never feel really 'alone', despite not talking to someone or touching someone in hours and hours, and I started wondering how really lonely I would be if I didn't have those avenues of communication available? I can pretend that I have a social life and people to be in contact with while I'm at home all the time, and they are sitting at home as well, and I can also pretend, from this place, that I am totally content being by myself every evening, even though if I really were totally alone (without electronic contact) I certainly would not be super excited about it.
I also know that this experience--having these other ways of making contact with people--makes it so that I often do not feel the deep urge to go out and visit with real live people, convincing myself (like we all do, probably) that I have people whom I am connected to and in conversation with.
But it just feels…empty, when you really stop and think about it.
It is very important to be able to be alone, and honestly after a long day of working with people I often just crave the silence and stillness of being by myself, but I really know that creating and solidifying social relationships is an essential part of being a high functioning human, and that we can't just accept that social media and internet offer us 'enough' interaction. It is very far from enough. I am absolutely guilty of this, and of convincing myself that it is good and healthy to interact with my friends and family from a distance, even though I know completely that a real-life visit with them far surpasses anything else that is possible.
Facebook chat? No, that's not a conversation.
I am hereby committing to visiting, having dinners, interacting and communicating with people far, far more often, and to cultivating a way of being that places far more priority on real-life experiences than what may be found in the electronic ethers. I know that we all have to figure out a way to live with technology and utilize it to our highest advantage without losing all that it means to be human, and this (for me at least) is an essential piece of that puzzle.