If You’re Lonely, You’re Not Alone

lonely and drinkingAre you lonely? Yes, you. Are you lonely? Let’s be honest here. There’s no one to impress. This isn’t about how many Facebook friends you have or how many people follow you on Twitter. And it’s not about how many texts you get each day or hour, either. It has nothing to do with how funny, smart, kind, talented, good-looking, or trendy you may or may not be. (If you don’t believe me, check out this blog post, along with the many, many comments.) The fact is, statistically, you probably are lonely.

What has caused this epidemic of loneliness you’re part of? You’re part of a generation that’s almost always plugged in and connected. As counter-intuitive as it seems, our cyber social networking may actually be to blame. In his article entitled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”, Stephen Marche discusses the tragic alienation and death of former movie icon Yvette Vickers, whose death was unnoticed for over 6 months. According to Marche, the issue boiled down to the fact that Vickers, whose mummified body was found near the glowing screen of her computer, had experienced what you’ve probably noticed yourself, a “web of connections [that] had grown broader but shallower.”

Some of the introductory instructions for Google+ seem to assume this kind of superficial socializing, instructing new members to include only “your real friends, the ones you feel comfortable sharing private details with.” Historically, many sages have realized that real friendships are rare, indeed. George Washington gave this fabulous advice: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence”.

lonely girl sitting on stepsBlogging, Facebooking, or tweeting about your frustration can actually be counter-productive. Often, we share too much on Facebook or Twitter, treating these open venues as if they’re our intimate friends. Are you sharing TMI? If you’re not sure, why not you ask an acquaintance and be ready to hear the truth. If you do share too much, you may be cluing people off to your loneliness and lack of real friendships, which can do more damage than making you look pathetic. According to a new study, you might actually be spreading your loneliness around.

More important than not sharing your life too openly in cyberspace, you can overcome loneliness by pursuing true friendships. Believe it or not, it’ll be easier to do while you’re on campus than it will once you’re finished with college and no longer surrounded by same-aged peers. Start by finding and taking opportunities to develop real, in-person friendships with people who share your interests. Getting involved in Greek life, intramural sports, or other campus organizations can be a good start, but you can’t be a wallflower and expect a friendship to bud. You may have to actually start a conversation or ask some classmates about forming a study group. That kind of in-person social networking is important, though, and the potential longtime friendships will add meaning to your life.

Image credits: Top by cristi lucaci / Fotolia; Bottom by Mitarart / Fotolia.

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