I now deeply regret working as a software engineer in my 20s, as I’ve realized it contributed massively to my loneliness. Which is sad because I used to be so excited about technology and now I see it as the biggest trend in reducing quality of life.
It seems the more interactions that are mediated by technology the less human contact we have.
Gladwell observed in Tipping Point that most peoples' social circle is usually created by one high connection "maven" who connects many low connection end nodes. You want to try to move closer to how that maven operates.
Concretely: If you go out with a friend, and end up becoming buddies with the waitress, and then also know of an after party you can bring the friend to, by virtue of your network, you will constantly be getting solicited to hang out. Even more quantitatively: if you can average +2 casual connections per day when you try, you'll be doing very well. But two connections in a day is very difficult for most people on HN; you'll have to work and experiment on how to achieve that.
Another interesting dynamic in Seattle is that people seem to assume all the people they know already know each other, which means nobody tries to introduce people. I have an old friend up there who used to insist I already knew people I hadn't met, which was frustrating. The result of this tendency is a social network with a highly connected center and a lot of poorly connected leaves. This structure really revealed itself when my social network was struck by a tragedy where several people were victims of a shooting -- there was a group of people who all had direct connections to at least one victim, and another group who didn't know any of the victims personally but a majority of their friends had. I was in the latter group and I found it very strange.
It was a huge contrast when I moved to the Bay Area, where people assumed everyone was a transplant and went out of their way to do introductions. I was at a party once where I was reintroduced to the same person four times -- someone who I had already met years earlier.
Most of all, have compassion for and care about yourself. It doesn't solve every problem, but it's the most important relationship you have by far. Without it, you'll always be lonely no matter who is around. With it, how others respond won't matter so much.
Have compassion for the other people too, especially those who don't respond. They have their own problems which have nothing to do with you, which, like everyone else's problems, might make them a*holes at times. The reasons they don't respond likely have nothing to do with you. Don't objectify them - don't make them characters in your narrative of your social life; they have their own narratives independently of everyone else.
Another reason to have compassion for them is that people in your situation tend to adopt a perspective where all the power is in the hands of others: They respond or they don't. It's not a healthy (or realistic) perspective; you have power too and they are flawed, vulnerable human beings too.
And more practically, instead of worrying about people who don't seem to respond, keep trying until you find some who do - it can be hard to motivate yourself but it's worth the effort. For everyone, there are plenty of both kinds and it's no shame if it doesn't work out with some - that's inevitable given the odds - or if the ones that will respond are hard to find. You don't need many successes to have a social life and you are worth the effort no matter how bad your experiences so far.
Finally, many people find themselves lonely at times in their life, and find they need only one really close relationship, a life partner. If you have yourself (see above) and a life partner, then the other relationships become much less significant. Maybe that's the real goal; it can take a lot of looking, but once you find the person you both have it made (with plenty of work!).
But it's very, very hard.
You probably have a reason for liking those Japanese bands. They excite you somehow. Find out why. If you can articulate it, then people will be able to understand your passion.
I love creating Technologie that contributes to my way of life instead of making me more isolated.
No I don’t support a family. But keep in mind my parents raised me waiting on tables.
I'm sorry, but your whole experience reeks of the annoying kind of self-righteousness that only people with no real obligations have.
Correct me if I'm wrong but you choose to have children, a partner and other "obligations", so how is he the self-righteous one?
Because he doesn't have kids?
It is an obligation to take care of oneself, to be self sufficient. What you say is slandering this guy's work.
he's not living at home with his parents paying his rent, he's not living on welfare. He's making his way in the world on his own. "No real obligations"?
I struggle too, with resisting consumerist urges; which have been ingrained in me since birth. But really, they are right. Does purchasing Tom Ford apparel make you happy? It's fine if it does, but what happens if you don't? Nothing at all, actually.
We don't need all the things we're so constantly sold, and recognizing that lifts a weight (or anxiety, if you wanna call it that) from the shoulders. There's freedom in not needing things.
Go outside. It's free and fun.
Let's face it - 33% of males aren't going to have families of their own, and probably 66% or so (very rough figures) will end up spending the majority of their lives without their families (due to ez-divorce and custody laws favoring mothers).
The next step in our little social activism pendulum is looking at custody laws for sure. Men are very much at risk here on the topic of loneliness especially.
329. If for company you cannot find a wise and prudent friend who leads a good life, then, like a king who leaves behind a conquered kingdom, or like a lone elephant in the elephant forest, you should go your way alone.
330. Better it is to live alone; there is no fellowship with a fool. Live alone and do no evil; be carefree like and elephant in the elephant forest.
Between work, wife, kids, friends, family, and various drains on my time, squeezing in some quality alone time has become increasingly difficult.
Therefore, I have had to turn my stoicism onto detaching from my former desire for alone-ness (not the same as loneliness, I know).
If anyone knows how to make more time for being alone when you have young kids, let me know! :) I suspect I will mostly have to look forward to that some time in the future.
Note that depending exactly what it is you need (or think you need), certain lifestyle changes may be able to get you parts of it "for free". For example, I choose year-round bicycle commuting, which is a hardship in the winter, but it does mean that almost no matter what, I get 5hrs/week of time to myself for fresh air, thinking, and physical exercise.
My son just zones out for an hour or more when I do this with him. We're together of course, but I also have most of the feeling of freedom and solitude that cycling gives me, and he generally has a great time.
As far as finding solitude, I’ve found that a few solo camping trips a year help. They don’t solve the problem and it almost feels hopeless to take a couple weekends out of the year to solve a weekly problem, but it actually helps enough that I wouldn’t want to go without it.
The first two years of having a child have been 70% crap, 20% sleep, 10% rewarding moments.
There are a couple of up-sides:
- The rewarding moments are pretty cool, and there are more all the time.
- You don't appreciate free time until you have none. I no longer procrastinate and overall I think I get more things done than I did with unlimited free time.
Raising the kids is actually the easiest part.
Going into work less productive because you are exhausted and having your boss yell at you for missing deadlines is the hard part.
Struggling with money is the hard part.
Our culture is a lot less family friendly than it was 50 years ago.
TIL I have it easy...
You will miss them when they grow up and move away. Ignore your longing for "alone" time now. You're going to get plenty of it.
That said, I wouldn't enter a partnership with someone who did not respect my need for an hour or so of exercise 3-5 days a week and of course I would make the same effort to provide them that time as well, if they wanted it. In fact, I would argue that a persons physical fitness(to a certain level, of course) is crucial to a partnership and a healthy family. Full disclosure: my wife and I don't have kids- but these are my values and I'm proud enough of them to hope to bestow them on my kids if we ever have them.
If you're taking care of others to the exclusion of yourself, you're going to end up in a downward spiral of resentment. Nothing good will come of that.
If you have really young kids, you'll need to wait until they are in school. Then, do the day-off trick.
As Jim Rohn famously said, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. While I don't completely agree because I think think "time" can also be interpreted to include reading-the-works-of, I think those five people (either in-person or remote) exert a lot of influence. They help shape your ideas, and provide boundaries or gateways to your thoughts through their feedback.
Not sure I can agree with this, especially as a man. Essentially saying neuter and emasculate yourself , so the King will ride your ass for the rest of your life and you'll live a content life.
A lot of Buddhist advice becomes very strange when taken into a secular context. It feels like there's a sense in the West of Buddhism as "less religious" than other faiths because it's less engaged with a deity, but that's a misleading approach.
It's worth remembering that most Buddhist traditions don't expect enlightenment in one lifetime, and do believe in literal, bodily reincarnation based on your behavior in this life. I can't speak to this specific verse, but "best among men is one who endures abuse" is the sort of sentiment which is very different in a world where the one abused will be reincarnated and seeks an end to that cycle more than they seek present benefit. There are bits worth using in a secular context, but as with most faiths we should also expect some advice that's grossly wrong without its spiritual framework.
(This is also worth remembering when we talk about corporate Buddhist meditation retreats and the like. They seem to assume that if enlightenment is the death of desire and ego, a little Buddhism will be a decrease of greed and selfishness. There are a lot of Buddhist traditions which are very much not about that sort of linear progress.)
Had a lot of time to read this stuff. It goes pretty deep.
In fact there is one Sutta in the Pali Canon where one monk went around proclaiming consciousness as “self” or Atman and Gotama was pretty annoyed at him.
The tamed elephant isn't a metaphor for a man, it's literally an elephant.
The notion is you should endure the abuse of the elephant, rather than lash out at the king for reprehensible behavior.
The overall notion, regardless of whether it is a realistic one or not, is if we stop giving the gregarious attention they crave, it'll cease to be a valuable endeavor. Don't let the king rule you emotionally, and you'll never be their subject literally.
The alternative is revolt against the king. But violence begets violence. And the kings usually have the best weapons.
It's akin to Anarchisms "Rules without rulers".
If the elephant wanted, it could easily squash the king, regardless of him being a king or not.
A bird that has lived its life in a cage won't leave. It's really quite sad to see.
Men convince themselves they are free by refusing to ackowledge the walls of their own dungeon.
I'm not sure I understand the qualifier; do you think you'd be more likely to agree with this if you were a woman?
By then it is too late. Because you aren't a "friend", you are a protégé at best or an opportunist at worst. You will never relate on a deep level because you missed their struggle, foolish mistakes, and hardships as they journeyed towards a good life and wisdom.
Looking at my own experience, I didn't even particularly like my friends when I first met them. Several of them seemed outright repulsive. It took several months of being in the same "sticky" social situation to bond--long periods of time in the same school, sport, club, neighborhood, etc. If I had the opportunity to transplant myself into another social situation after the first day/week, I'd never have made any of those friendships.
How can we keep the same group of people stuck together for a sufficient amount of time? I think that's the secret for creating friendships and curing loneliness.
This is exactly how Data interprets friendship. I'm not sure what my point is other than I've been hooked on Star Trek TNG recently. I can't get enough ever since I realized it isn't a show about space and aliens -- it's a show in which the entire premise seems to be simply a story of fascinating interrelationships that form when a diverse team faces unique problems. I LOVE IT.
I think you have to force yourself to commit to something. Sign up for a meetup and get that perfect attendance. Go a minimum, say 10 times, before giving it up. We're too interested in instant gratification but connections take time.
Self-centeredness runs high these days. Us young people want the world to cater to us. However, two self-centered people don't get along that great.
If I want to make friends, then I have to choose to actively put time and energy into someone else; sometimes without getting much back.
The most lonely I've ever been (or ever seen someone else), is when I am totally self-focused - spending all my time on my plans and situation and looking for ways people can fit into those plans.
This isn't the only problem, but it's certainly a player.
Somewhere we diverged from "live and let live" and "meet the other person half way" to "if you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best" at scale. "Social Selfishness" or "The Peacock Effect", and it seems social networks galvanize attitudes in this direction.
Unsolicited advice: Delete your Facebook and Twitter, leave your phone in your pocket or your car, and enjoy the company of others over a meal or shared activity. Listen more than you speak. Give the benefit of the doubt. Be present in the moment. Be mindful about your emotions when your beliefs or values conflict with those of others. Make the effort to stay in touch with those you love and/or care about (phone or email works, postcards are fun). Empathize.
However, I'm seeing quite the opposite. I'm 40+ years old and I'm astounded at how many assholes there are of big babies who overcompensate for everything by being a big prick. At least teenagers have an excuse, but what we define as "Adult" these days escape me.
I'd say us middle age are more to blame for the loneliness perpetuating our obsession with things, work, and lifestyles... none of which have done ANYTHING to bring humanity closer together...
Look at the Xbox for example. I have people who hate me because I play games on the xbox. Why? Look at phones, People will assume your identity and personality on whether you own an iPhone or an Android and which expensive model you can buy. Look at cars - your car describes how manly you are. No one buys a Jeep to go explore the country anymore, they buy a Jeep to show how manly they are and to go instagram pictures of places they have been and how much money they dumped in their vehicle that could have gone where they are stock from the factory.
Feeling alone or left out, stop giving a shit what phone people own, what consoles they play, what OS they run, what movies they like, what politics they adhere to and start giving more shits about how YOU feel and how YOU convey yourself to the world and how YOU should be a better member of society.
Sure they do, you just hear about the latter a lot more because they shout on social media about what they've done, whereas the former just go explore the country.
I'll admit, I'm cynical when it comes politics now so I write off people I know I'd normally have no problem with and it's a damn shame we've come to this as a society.
I think its a symptom of us not tackling real issues and working on the real human condition... It's about "my taxes" "my money" "my freedom"... we have lower taxes, more freedom and more money than ever before and yet it's not good enough.
So we don't solve health insurance, housing, population, education or anything that can be a real benefit to humans not being lonely and we focus entirely on what makes us lonely - "me me me... money money money"
Of course you can work on overriding your default behavior as well, but part of losing the cynicism is recognizing we all struggle with things in our lives and we all have things we care about. I feel good relationships are founded on trying to have some compassion for other people's struggles and trying to respect what other people care about.
From my personal experience, I think that we may be missing the "social clubs" from past decades. There's something to being a new person to a club or group that forces people to stop thinking of themselves as special/unique and defer to the group dynamic, and I think this is (in most cases) a healthy process. I've played ice hockey with the same group of guys/gals for ~15 years, and when a person joins our group, you can tell almost immediately if they're going to last: if they keep their mouth shut on the ice and let their playing do the talking, but off the ice they are sociable and have interesting things to add to the conversation, then they will be a long-term member. If they, instead, start whining about this or that on the ice or don't want to join in some of the off-ice socializing, they typically aren't going to last very long.
Happiest times in my life have been times when I actively tried to help other people without expecting anything back(other than good feelings).
I'd hypothesis that the difficulty for most isn't making friends (meetups or shared interest groups like dancing, knitting, boardgames, kickboxing, group instrument lessons, etc), but in partnerships.
I think people are really afraid today. Dating sites/apps seem to make it worse, reducing individuals to a photo as a primary interest mechanism.
I'm really curious of the huge disparity between men/women messaging one another on such platforms. Women tend to get inundated with messages where as men are typically responsible for initiating. Some platforms try to flip this around like Bumble, but it doesn't seem to really change the dynamic at all (some men get tons of responses while the rest get zero).
There just isn't enough depth in this article to draw out any real conclusions about loneliness, the various types of alone-ness and what to do about it.
I've mostly seen the opposite. People whose social lives were centered around dating and meeting people through that, who then settled down, and now don't know how to make just "friend" friends.
Would the two have the same root cause? That's an interesting question - many claim that "tech" (in the abstract, or in the specific eg "facebook likes") are responsible for both, but I don't really buy it.
I don't know what historical rate information we have, but there have always been some loners. They have an easier-to-access platform today, does that skew our perception?
I suspect the lack of pair bonding and childbirth is driving the majority of the reported loneliness.
To some extent modern culture has presented us this model of single-family homes and strongly coupled people against the world, and certainly it might minimize loneliness for the strong couples, but does it maximize loneliness for everyone else?
There's a lot to wonder if we've lost something in losing some of the classic "village model" of multiple families and individuals all in close proximity and relationship to each other in multi-family homes. Especially when you start to include individuals that for one reason or another don't "fit" into more traditional "Hollywood" couple relationship roles (asexual and/or aromantic folks don't always fit neatly into a strongly-bound couple role, as one obvious example to me; differently abled people have other challenges; etc).
Furthermore, a focus on strong coupling discounts the network effects of looser coupling. You may not feel hardly lonely at all always having your significant other around, but that may only be a "local maximum" state. Your maximal happiness may rely on both the reliability of a tight couple and a network of other friends filling other relationship needs. The long tail of strong couple problems from active therapy needs to cheating and divorce rates seems to suggest that it very much could be a local maximum "trap".
Anecdotally, I do feel like an individual that can't win in a game of strong coupling, and it does irk me that the suggestion is simply "be part of a couple". Hollywood and dating companies throw a lot of money at trying to tell people like me that this is the only solution, and it certainly seems like it's not a (workable) solution at all.
It is very easy for me to establish a virtual third space for a topic of interest, but the reality of timezones make establishing connections with those friends sometimes insurmountable; and those friendships do not translate well to the physically limited world.
Conversely, local relationships are also extremely difficult to establish due to the diffuse living areas surrounding larger cities. Those whom you might be inclined to establish a social relationship with can live /hours/ away during the evening commute periods and are often extremely busy on weekends.
Even if time to meet up can be established a stable and sufficiently (warm/private/intimate) meeting place might not exist or might require an economically infeasible increase in rent. The inhospitably to cars (for outsiders of the urban core) and the low quality of public transit in US cities (particularly 'out west') compound the pain of this friction.
The net result is friction on social activities that destroy network effects that are probably expected in larger populations. When combined with a lack of locality stable careers in many fields, at least first hand, I observe a lack of community and the ability to establish social links.
You're basically seeing sexual selection and Bateman's principle at an exaggerated scale, because online dating makes it very easy for males to cast wide nets repeatedly thereby allowing women to be even choosier for their partners.
I have not found any group activity that I would want to do regularly. Upon introspection I find that I have created a lot many small hurdles for me. No smartphone due to privacy concerns, no car because I am accustomed to public transport, live too far from the city even though I could move. Combined with no real interest in offline group activities that leads to not having had anyone who I would call friend in more than a decade.
> but in partnerships
Isn't "being social" a prerequisite for dating? I mean when I even think about an online dating site the first question that comes to mind is how blank my profile would look.
I got lucky in some respects, I generally disliked my military coworkers, and I didn't want to only have them in my socializing pool, so I started spending lots of time off base. The habit stuck, and to this day I spend weekend mornings socializing at a coffee shop.
But I can see how lots of people get stuck in a rut of unfulfilling computer friendships and worse, Internet romances. Much as we bemoan the role of social media, I suspect the real issue is that lots of Americans just have higher standards for who they'll spend time with, and just as 15-20 years ago, most people still don't work on their social skills.
Used to be, even if you didn't agree with someone politically, you could still have an amicable conversation. Nowadays it seems like a lost art, nobody wants to even try. Everyone wants dead assurance that they're not "wasting their time."
All this is to say, I'm not all that sympathetic to the "epidemic" of loneliness, especially in young people, it feels like just another form of entitlement. Connecting with others is hard. Do it anyway.
This paragraph hints at what might be a significant factor in increased loneliness: A lack of community. Community can be a workplace or it could be a neighborhood, but in both it's a place where you feel like you and your colleagues/neighbors "have each-others' back". It's not even important that you are all best friends, just that you trust each-other enough.
These two, work and home, are of particular importance vs the other venues that we inhabit, because for most people, our time is spent either working, or in the neighborhood in which we live. If neither provides a trusting-enough sense of community, you don't have much time left in your life to find that elsewhere.
But for many people a trusted community is inaccessible for a variety of social, cultural, and economic reasons. Many (most?) workplaces don't offer a sense of community (which is fine, they shouldn't have to if that's not what their workers are seeking), and many people - especially younger adults - live in neighborhoods where they don't know many people around them.
For many people workplace and neighbourhood have no sense of community at all and if you are single as well effectively you have no one to fall back to.
Sure you can go to a coffee shop with your gym friend or coworker once in a while but when you seriously need someone like if you get sick or need a shoulder to cry on it's not going to work with people with whom you don't have a intimate high priority relationship like partner or family.
No, because there is no recent rise in tribalism and identity politics in American culture. There is a recent rise in people who aren't sociologists, political scientists, and lay observers with intense interest in those fields talking about the tribalism and identity politics that have long prominently featured in American culture, but that's not the same thing.
If you're connected to 500 people and each person has 2-3 days a year that are "lifefaker" worthy... then it's pretty obvious how you'd feel left out. Each day you'll see 5 amazing posts that make you feel like you're living a terrible life. This is pretty standard stuff. It's standard by young people to not share sad things or things that won't fetch a lot of likes or envy. It's common to post things that aren't even happening now or recently but to share moments from the past that were great even if your life is pretty crap at the moment. It's about creating the image that your life is fantastic even if it really isn't.
My wife and I bought a drone for, honestly, just this purpose, and as has been repeatedly mentioned, more and more restaurants plate their food to look good photo'd and posted online.
The local cherry blossom season is over crowded with people taking pictures, some of them bring out DSLRs just for the occasion. There is a local tulip festival that has changed over the years from admiring nature to being a great photo op.
The world is becoming optimizing for photo ops, it is now pretty easy to get in more than 2-3 photo-perfect days a year.
There is only about 4 photo appropriate months around here, but getting a world class photo on any summer day is pretty much child's play.
I've literally done the world travel thing (and loved it) but I still often feel lonely. Part of that is moving and starting in new cities a lot, but part of it is just difficultly in finding a partner. Within two years of being in a city I usually have a strong core group of friends, but romantic partners are much harder to establish (distinguishing between friendship loneliness vs romantic loneliness).
By your argument, maybe I'm part of the problem. :-P I only use social media to promote my own blog with details about travels or my photography, so maybe I make people feel left out. But then again, I still feel lonely myself.
I think your statement tries to narrow down something that's a much more complicated issue. And what you said may be true for some people experience loneliness, but not all for sure.
It could of course just be a cultural difference, the place I was in or whatever. But regardless it was one of the reasons I left the US. I've been able to find deeper friendships in other countries. Although no place has it been so quick to make friends as in the US, getting invited to people's home etc. So Americans are easy to be around and fun to hang around.
But when you are alone in a country without family, you feel a need to have some really close friends.
ps: I'm from there, and lived in most of Europe and various places in Portugal, even when I was away from Porto for 4 years, coming back, I made a bunch of new friends (and reconnected with older ones) that I have a deep connection with!
It is a space that needs a lot of help, where there is an obvious need to help people live happier lives.
The next step is following up with the new people.
My advice- Be okay with failure. Most people will not follow up, but the ones that do are keepers. 9/10 people will let you down, find the 10%.
Let's say that we are in a small team, maybe five or six people. One person comes to work sad, upset.
Nothing has to be said. We stop what we're doing and help, right? We're not schmucks. We take time to listen, we reassure the person they're important, we celebrate their being part of our group.
Now let's expand the scale several orders of magnitude and change the medium. We are now part of some online system: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, whatever. There are tens of millions of people all in one big virtual room.
Somebody mentions they are upset online. When we see something wrong or something we care about online, we type things in -- somewhere. We feel moved to act. Without something being said, the feelings don't exist to us.
Does that really do what it's supposed to be doing? I know our motivations are good, and in many cases there are fine words provided, but are we really helping and caring about people simply because we're tweeting, retweeting, hashtagging, typing our personal stories in, and so forth?
Is a text message saying "You are important to us" the same as going over to somebody, giving them a hug, having them look around the room at people who care about them, and telling them same thing?
Assuming it is, there's huge bunch of people involved. On any one day, a million people could be living out some horrible experience because of something in their lives. How could we know unless they type things in, and what kinds of things are those folks going to feel if they type things in and nobody responds?
I don't know which is worse. Maybe this type of communication is effectively showing our feelings and makes a difference -- and some people are just going to be ignored. Or maybe it's just so much self-stimulation, telling ourselves we're somehow doing something of importance when in fact all we're doing is making various people internet famous from day to day.
We tech folks keep assuming that human communication somehow all boils down to bits moving over a wire. That may be a terribly lossy way of looking at it.
I remember reading some research comparing the emotional value of face-to-face, phone, and textual interactions. Text interactions got zero or near zero value. A phone interaction was better, but still of course, not as good as a face-to-face one.
But i trully wonder if electronic communications(even assuming you can get high quality, face-to-face with eye contact and body language) are a valuable direction to go into for friendship ? maybe we humans aren't supposed to live in such huge groups, and do need the constancy of a tribe around us ?
I think the people in the #metoo movement would say that, yes, simply getting the support of a retweet, or being able to tweet about an experience you had that hurt you is very useful and helpful.
I saw a couple of friends making a joke about gendered pronouns. I think people trying to control languages are silly, whether it's the Academy Franchaise or some other group. I love language. I collect idioms and quirks of various languages. It's emergent, unpredictable, uncontrollable. That's why it fascinates me.
But this is not something I joke about because some people find the topic terribly serious.
So I saw this tweet between a couple of friends talking about trying to remove gender. Without thinking much, I tweeted to them "Perhaps you should make a manual. Dang! Did it again!" and didn't think any more of it.
I woke up this morning with 40+ notifications on Twitter. Holy cow! My hashtag thing has really taken off!
Nope. It was thousands and thousands of people hearing my name first because of that joke.
I apologized. I tried to mute the conversation. Finally I deleted the Tweet. Suddenly I was in the middle of a discussion around women in tech -- as an example of some jackass who could take things seriously enough.
It still continues.
I had quite a rant about it this morning. My friend pointed out that women in tech was a good cause. It is worthy of discussion. I agree. But this did not feel like a good experience to me. I had spent a lot of time trying entertain and engage people with little pictures and nobody cared. (Fine with me). But accidentally entering a conversation with a lot of emotion already loaded in? I had attention I didn't want. Yikes!
We started talking about cause and effect. The interplay of emotions, intent, and actions among large groups. The internet is turning life from being active, participatory, and requiring observation to one of simple cause and effect. I create this stimulus. I get this result.
I think #metoo has been a great thing. Way overdue. But you're answering a different question. You're answering the question about do some groups overall find social use out of the net? I hope so. I think they do. That's a top-down question and answer. My question was bottom-up and more in line with the article. Does reducing our communication to typing and bits moving around, overt and binary stimulus-response in a tightly-controlled pipe make for each person becoming a slightly better person the more it is done? Or is it fundamentally isolating and cruel, no matter what the content or who is doing it?
Having said that, there are emotionally ill people in the world. While some people focus on the psychopaths, there are also people who are depressed, sad, angry -- and want to be heard. They continue feeling this way no matter what your interaction with them is.
If they are only 1% of the Twitter population, and Twitter has 100M subscribers, that's a million people. These people are emotionally injured and will remain so no matter how anybody responds. In fact, for some, interaction may exacerbate the problem.
I don't know how you deal with that using automation. Seems like whatever you did would just make the problem worse.
I don't think I agree that emotionally ill people feel the same way no matter how others interact with them, if that's what you mean. In fact, how others interact can have a large effect, IME. These are human beings who, like you and me and all the others, have many complex factors guiding them; they are not automatons, not solely creations of their illness.
when chats started (Usenet), mostly geeks used it (myself included), the anti-socials!
Today sitting in front of a screen with a beer in a kitchen and participating in some absolutely irrelevant to our life flame with people one doesn't know and doesn't care about gives a perverted sense of socialization and inclusion. But at the end of a day, a person stays alone without real friends.
Instead, it'd be better to invite friends to go to a bar or a bicycle ride -- but it's so tempting and effortless to just go online and just sit on a sofa.
Wonder how the next generation is even going to breed.
For example what does social media replace? Does it replace real in person interaction between friends? Does it replace calling someone with text? Does it replace opportunities to meet up and connect in person?
What does Netflix and streaming video apps replace, did it replace going with your friends to the video store renting a movie together?
What does online shopping replace? Does it replace real human interaction asking someone in a physical store for advice what to purchase?
These questions are going to get more real as we get more robotics and automation around us.
If you work remote most of the time, then all interactions will be through online chat rooms. Coworking is a solution to that.
I feel like every (in person) human interaction we have refreshes our ability to communicate and connect with people, and probably makes the brain happy on some primal/chemical level.
Bit by bit, these brief interactions are being removed from our lives (self checkouts, online shopping, google maps/GPS, online dating etc). I thought having more time to focus on myself would be great--and it was, on the surface. But now I see great importance in smiling and saying hello to a cashier, or stopping a stranger to ask for directions. The eye contact.. the warmth of another human. It's really important.
When people physically hang out, be it at meetups, or something similar, there is a sort of physical activity and energy that reduces (or even removes) depression for days at a time in many people. (I think the trick is to socialize in a non-judgemental atmosphere.)
I'm probably biased as I regularly went to meetups and traveled, but I've worked remote, and I did not have any problems with it on the loneliness front. If anything, it helped reduce my anxiety and depression because I was experiencing less shallow faceless conversations, and instead my social interactions were me being me talking about my day or geeking out about something. When you come to expect social to be that positive experience, instead of a chore, anxiety goes down, and from that depression can too.
You don't have school or church as traditional recurring ways to network with people with your values. You cannot make friends at work (they're your employees, not your buddies, you might have to let them go any day, and often you do), you cannot date at work, and that's the one thing you spend 10-12 hours a day at. Most of social gatherings within your sphere of influence (tech and entrepreneurship) are very male-dominated as well. And you live in the Bay, where you relocated for work, losing your existing network. Your family and old friends are possibly thousands of miles away. And the Bay is again all about tech and a skewed gender ratio.
Even when you do make friends and expand your social circle, it's always more men.
You're stuck with the rather soul-sucking process of online dating and spending hours swiping on strangers who are about as jaded about the process as you are.
I suppose you have to find a co-ed hobby and hope that one day you run into someone who's a match through that. But realistically, how many new people will you meet through that?
Death of retail: No social record stores, no social book stores, arcades
Internet everywhere: People on laptops at coffeehouse, on mobile phones at bus stop / checkout
Bad Transit/Urbanism/Public policy: Streets for cars, no plazas like the Italians, can't drink a bottle of wine in a public park
As for transit, that is a huge US problem for sure. But don't blame the Internet or phones. Look at videos from the 50s/60s and you'll see just as many people silent on the train/tram/bus reading magazines or newspapers. By the 80s they'd have newspapers and the nerds would have walkmans. By the 90s it was more common for even-non nerdy types to carry discmans and now, everyone wears headphones. But that's always been there, it's not really new.
I know this is going to sound a bit hostile to younger generations, but perhaps if they put their phones down and stopped looking at screens they would see the person sitting across the room. Perhaps they might even talk to that person.
I have noticed this happens more to younger people, but I have seen quite a fair share of older people doing the same thing.
The good thing about seeing this in public is that I feel like a jackass if I think about doing it. So I just leave my phone in my car or at home when I'm with someone.
I can't compare to Italy, but I find suburban US bleaker and more isolating than I did living in Germany. My suggestion would be to go to your nearest urban area. Even the worst car-centric US cities have walkable parts - in a pinch, figure out where the local college is to start.
Apologies to those who like them, but suburbs are culture-deprived wastelands. Go somewhere where people actually want to engage with the world and you'll have better luck.
 Obviously, I like cities. But even rural life is better - much cheaper, and instead of the illusion of privacy, you can actually be alone.
> "The survey found that the average loneliness score in America is 44, which suggests that "most Americans are considered lonely,"
Certainly, mental health has been ignored for far too long. That said, there seems to be a lack of context here.
- Is this an increase or decrease?
- How does it compare to other countries / cultures?
- Was this over time, or a snap shot, that would (I would think) be influenced by the current mental state of the person giving the answer?
I don't mean to sound cold and lacking in empathy but without transparency my first reaction is: C'est la vie. Life, by definition has highs and lows.
I'm not doubting there are people who need treatment / attention. On the other hand, the way this seems to be executed and presented feels like a pitch for more funding, etc.
p.s. Why was it / is it called the Loneliness Index? Or was that a self-fulfilling prophesy? Is that part of the pitch for attention?
In my opinion, the problem is that we're no longer celebrating masculinity, but rather it seems we trash it at every opportunity nowadays.
Not sure how much that weighs on the loneliness problem, but I suspect having young men not acting like men isn't helping with our collective well-being and sociability.
Say a leader in your family, like a father, dies. What good does it do a man to completely break down emotionally and be of no value. In an ideal scenario, a man will step up and become truly useful during this time of trouble. Somebody has to make funeral plans and deal with the logistics of the whole crisis. This is a selfless action that gives others a time to mourn and you will get your time to mourn after everyone else has collected themselves.
Additionally, while deep and dangerous feelings, such as depression, should not be suppressed, many of the things you feel don't need to be shared. Maybe you don't feel like working out, or you feel like going off on an annoying coworker. These feelings do no good for you or the people around you, or are afraid to do the things you know you should be doing, but you still feel them. It would be better to suppress them, face your fears, and do something useful. There are times to share your emotions and there are times to suppress them, and it only takes a little bit of wisdom to tell the difference.
These points of yours about feelings are very deep, and speak to my male identity. It might be tempting for some to brush these points off as antiquated patriarchal notions of human relationships. That would be foolish to do.
What I read in your discussion is the value and power of self-control and the positive effects that that consequently has on our relationships. I hear you saying that controlling the natural emotions that well up within us is not an unhealthy repression!
We need to celebrate the quite typical, quite healthy, self-regulated male. That person can lead, and we all crave leadership in the family, office, church, gov't, etc. Self-regulation is not solely a male attribute, but it certainly should be promoted and carefully cultivated in males given their biological free agency.
Emotions are healthy to repress when, as you say, there would be a detriment to self or group in engaging in those emotions. It is competence and being truthful to self and group that lets one know when to emote or not.
I believe that view of things is an example of toxic masculinity. The person's father died. It's only human to show some emotion.
"In an ideal scenario, a man will step up and become truly useful during this time of trouble."
Saying that it has to be a man is part of the problem of toxic masculinity. Anyone can do this.
"Additionally, while deep and dangerous feelings, such as depression, should not be suppressed, many of the things you feel don't need to be shared."
They don't need to, but doing so doesn't hurt either.
"These feelings do no good for you or the people around you"
That can be a pretty toxic attitude toward feelings.
I hope you'll be pleased to learn that aggressive tendencies can encouraged, shepherded, and focused towards the positive. So, perhaps "unfocused aggression" is the more politically correct negative label you were searching for? Your word choice is too full of hurt. (I'm sorry if some men have hurt you.)
It's not a spite thing, but we just cannot let your feelings win the day, and you have to lose this fight for all our sakes. We want our men to be aggressive, competent, and noble creatures after all. We'll silence your "toxic masculinity" messages at every opportunity with our powerful charm and energy. We'll show our young men how to be the boss and love our women too. ;)
The literal meaning of the words is “a subset of the traits traditionally associated with men that is toxic”, not “being male, which is inherently toxic”, as you seem to have interpreted it, which both incorrectly understands the literal meaning of masculinity, and incorrectly understands the literal meaning of applying an adjective to modify a noun: my two year old son has little trouble understanding that the phrase “red cars” refers to the subset of cars which are red rather than asserting that all cars are red.
So, even to the extent that young people might be unable to see past the literal meaning of words, the literal meaning here is exactly what is intended, and entirely unlike the decidedly non-literal interpretation you've misrepresented as the literal meaning.
> We want our men to be aggressive
You are being pedantic. Kids won't hit Wikipedia to get the full nuance of your preferred labels.
I haven't misrepresented anything. Have you ever asked kids if they've heard the term 'toxic masculinity' used and if they have, what they think it means/how it makes them feel? You're going to get some shockingly low resolution answers.
> We who?
As much 'we' as we can get. On this board, that might tend towards the royal we. ;) Consider that aggression has a positive application. Mastery and domination can occur in and over the self first and then outward in the world as required next, and that's the 'good' kind of aggression we like to foster. Self-control is learned, and boys need guidance channeling their instinct for achievement towards applicable skills development.
I welcome questions like yours though as it spurs these illuminating discussions. I'm hoping you can appreciate a different but logically consistent and legitimate worldview from your own.
I want to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative just as much as the next person. I suspect you and I view typical male attributes differently where you might seek to suppress rather than celebrate/foster appropriately.
No, the core of the objection is the way adjectives apply to nouns in a way that even toddlers correctly understand without difficulty. Even without a nuanced understanding of “maleness” vs. “masculinity” (which, honestly, I think most kids who have any understanding of what “toxic” means in any sense wouldn't need to look up), modifying a noun with an adjective normally means you are referring to an instance of the the thing named by the noun which also has the trait described by the adjective, not that all instances of the thing named by the noun have that trait.
If I say that colorblind people have problems with a certain site design, it doesn't mean, literally or otherwise, that all people are colorblind, and if I say toxic masculinity produces certain social problems, it doesn't mean either that all masculinity is toxic or that all problems are social. That's just not the way adjectives work, and even very young kids have no problem at all understanding that.
> if I say toxic masculinity produces certain social problems, it doesn't mean either that all masculinity is toxic ...
That is your opinion. That's a taking a very nuanced view.
"Toxic masculinity" is not a specifically addressed term and therefore it may be interpreted as a universal male trait by the young listener.
> ... or that all problems are social
This makes toxic masculinity even worse by your own definition: the toxicity might be understood as a natural and unalterable part of the poor little guy.
The messaging is just sloppy and is quite frankly hurtful, possibly intentionally, though not by you. You've partially conceded this sloppiness in your response even without my cajoling.
> That is your opinion
It's just the normal literal meaning of adjectives modifying nouns.
> That's a taking a very nuanced view.
No, it's not. It's the simple literal meaning. Reading any more into such a construct is a non-literal reading which involves some (perhaps incorrectly inferred) nuance.
> This makes toxic masculinity even worse by your own definition:
I have presented no definition by which this barely-coherent claim is true.
You seem to be saying that applying grammar rules to literal word definitions should provide 100% of the information conveyed in a conversation.
The phrase "toxic masculinity" is only a small piece of information in related conversations between people.
There's context, body language, tone, emotional states, memory of past conversations, number of participants, etc that provides all the meaning to the conversation.
Are you not confronting the issue in terms of real human communications especially regarding kids and choosing only to discuss word meanings? That's not very helpful. :shrug:
And that "and love our women too" bit is really creepy. Especially the "our" part, indicating that they are your property. That is a textbook sign of toxic masculinity, and a big red flag in the advent of the "incel" movement. Far, far too many of those young men see women as property that they are owed.
My wife is a third wave feminist, she wouldn't be dominated by me if I tried. And that's not right to think that way, and I don't act like a dominant a-hole that way, for the record.
But she clearly looks to me for leadership of the family, and I gratefully, joyfully provide that leadership. So I am legitimately dominant in many aspects of our relationship, just not by force.
No they aren't, and they don't. I can garauntee that most kids (who you don't seem have to much experience with) have more than enough intelligence to understand how adjectives and nouns work.
Please tell me you forgot the /s on this post.
I don't go to software meetups, though. I get enough of that stuff from working/side projects/etc. Nothing against them, I just feel that filling my free/social time with more programming content might cause me to burn out even faster than I already am. My suggestion: find a meetup for something completely unrelated to your work, like bicycling, board/video games, camping.
Making friends in the industry means they know the stuff you are going through. The other thing is that if you dislike your job it’s a great way to get a new one.
How many times have you been in a restaurant, bar, or other public space, and noticed groups of people all staring at their phones on 'social' media, rather than engaging in the actual social situation around them? Or how many times have you been at someones house, or even in your own home, and looked to find a child, friend, partner, family member, staring at their phone, rather than engaging with the real world? How many times has that person been you, staring blindly into the screen rather than engaging with actual humans around you?
Like people might check their phone if they get a message or need to respond to a spouse. But the majority of my friends, if in a bar or shop or party, rarely ever look at their phones .. unless a good several minutes go by and no one talks to them and it's a way to avoid boredom or awkwardness.
I mean people look at them when they're alone on a bus or train, but I mean before that we just looked at books or magazines. It's like a better book or magazine that's interactive.
It's definitely true that some people have issues "unplugging." One fried of mine comes to mind; I'll go get dinner with this guy and he'll stare at his iPhone grinding away at some mobile MMO or messaging other friends the entire time, while I'm left to eat my food in near silence (until he finds some hilarious image or video I absolutely need to see, at which point his phone gets thrust in my face). I can even ask the dude a question or make some remark and watch him miss it completely, only to ask "oh did you say something?" about 2 minutes later.
People like my friend need some kind of intervention for sure, but I'm not convinced that a majority of people behave like this. I'm very social and this is the only friend I can name with this sort of problem.
I see it as the opposite. The U.S. with the newer generations is maturing, socially. We don't just associate with people because of where they're from, what they look like (for the most part), or who they want to have in their bed. What I think we're getting better at judging is the actual characteristics of substance that make hanging out with people great. Anecdotally, I know of a few people that I would from an outside perspective consider "lonely." They have a few notable characteristics that make them undesirable to hang out with, let alone be in a relationship with. Maybe it's their politics, maybe it's how they act when it's just them and another in a room, maybe they're just a pretty big bore (due to having a mediocre job, no hobbies, etc).
That's something I don't see being mentioned in great detail. It's just kind of ignored that the people reporting loneliness might just be socially irredeemable (at the moment, anyone can change). Why do these reporters of loneliness deserve the social energy of other people when they can't comparably contribute, or even in some cases actively devalue the social meetings for other groups of people?
There are definitely contributing factors like: how our cities are built, transportation infrastructure, how much we have to work, etc. But I'm willing to wager that a decent portion of people who report loneliness might just have themselves to blame.
Is the trend American only, part of the consequences of an economic system, a society, progress in general, etc.
Well, chasing money and success as ultimate goals, glorifying individualism, being hell bent on branding oneself and selling it, valuing consumerism, and closing into comfort zones etc., comes with a cost.
Yeah, must have been tough for 80s kids. Still, I wonder why the current generation are lonely?
The only person that shares the same ideas universally is my wife, and that took a decade to find all the overlap.
I dont think there is anything wrong with individualism, but it makes it so I have many friends, but few close friends.
I would argue that "chasing money and success" is a trademark characteristic of what young people AREN'T doing, yet this study states they are the Loneliness age group.
Seriously, though, your comment seems to assume South Korean suicide rate is motivated by loneliness. If that's the case, you might want to give the rest of us an argument to support that assumption.
"In 2014 alone, some 840,000 companies sprang up, in a country with a population of 50 million. This high number of enterprises relative to GDP suggests that opening a business is a poplar economic activity for many South Koreans."
Did they used to have those suicide rates since forever? Because in the past they were even more conformist (or you think e.g. 50s or feudal Korea was more individualistic?).
And of course they chase after work and money like crazy there...
TL;DW Generational titles (Boomers, Gen X, Y, whatever) are invented by authors to sell books. They never bring people up and are always used to tear people down. Everything said about Millennials has been said about every generation ever. You can take a Time magazine cover from the 50s about the entitled generation and slap a modern photo on it and it's the same damn thing. It's lazy.
Millennials are the most diverse of any generation. That's about all you can really say, other than we're the most in debt and most likely to take unpaid internships compared to any previous generation. It's a straw man and it needs to die.
I have trouble believing that hasn't contributed to some idiosyncratic issues that weren't seen in other generations (as well as benefits)
- When you know you have some really good qualities and characteristics, but are not appreciated for them.
- When you realize you're not important to other people; whether you go to school/work/university tomorrow or not doesn't affect others and they won't notice.
- When you see all those couples around you and in the street, and think about "what's wrong with me?" and "why don't I have something like that?"
- When you realize you've put in too much effort and enthusiasm to help people and make contact with them, but haven't received much in return; as if you were just a tool for them.
- When you just want to spend your time with a person and realize they don't like spending their time with you.
- When you are too alone that you don't even know where to begin in order to stop being lonely.
This is what fking loneliness feels like.
Unfortunately, and I count myself in this, a lot of people are unwilling to take that deep look inside to be able to answer that question.
As with so many things, any defects must be measured from a wider scope within which comparisons can be made. Corrections can also be incredibly difficult or just costly, if a positive direction can even be identified.
This is possible, but I've found many/most adults are observant enough to comprehend their incompatibility with local culture. However, a smaller percentage of them attempt to do anything about it (e.g. too apathetic, depression, etc.).
>By definition (and I share the original post's issues above), a subject in this state is already far enough out of calibration that they cannot self-diagnose issues, let alone work towards correcting them.
I disagree. I would split these people into two groups: Those who have self awareness and those who do not. And then, those in the self awareness group would be split between those who are ready to attempt change, and those who are not. This is harsh, and I hope I'm wrong: I think the non-self-aware are incapable of being helped or changing. I think that's the group you are referring to.
[Note: this assumes we are talking about the subject of the OP/article. More so than less psychologically healthy lonely adults]
It's however true though that men and women operate in very different social contexts and that can be hard to navigate. A lot of forming a relationship with anyone is becoming mutually comfortable enough to escape such contexts.
To give an anecdote ... me and my wife are about literally the most opposite of people. She likes almost nothing that I like, and in many ways, vice-versa (opposites attract, as they say). I've gone to my share of nights out clubbing with her (which I mostly dislike, other than being with her), and she's endured way too many a geeky discussion. Eventually we settled into a groove and found mutually interesting interests :)
Often enough, it simply boils down to being unattractive. People automatically like you if you're attractive. People do not automatically like you if you're unattractive, you have to work for it.
> When you are too alone that you don't even know where to begin in order to stop being lonely.
Here's one place to start: Take care of yourself; be your own best friend - it's essential regardless of how many others you have. Have compassion for yourself, accept that you're flawed like everyone else, and do good things for yourself.
And then try having compassion for others. Don't think of them in relation to yourself, as friends or not friends, but as people with their own lives and problems and vulnerability. Listen to them; accept they will be flawed in how they act, that it is not because of you, and that they still need compassion and love just like you do. They may not show their vulnerabilities and needs, but I guarantee it's true.
That can help put you in a much healthier (and happier) place.
People seem to be more and more identifying as members of some group or another, as opposed to individuals. And in turn they adapt their personal views to the views of the group rather than expressing their own 'real' personal views. Of course I could be conflating the direction here and it could be that people are engaging more in 'groupthink' type behavior in a misguided effort to form social bonds, but in either case - I am curious why, in more detail, you think social relationships are suffering for some excess of individualism.
Even Tocqueville wrote about it:
there are more and more people who though neither rich nor powerful enough to have much hold over others, have gained or kept enough wealth and enough understanding to look after their own needs. Such folk owe no man anything and hardly expect anything from anybody. They form the habit of thinking of themselves in isolation and imagine that their whole destiny is in their hands.
Each man is forever thrown back on himself alone, and there is danger that he may be shut up in the solitude of his own heart.
The hermit isn't just someone who lives in the woods. It's someone who lives in the woods and doesn't come down. A hermit is someone who opts out of the obligations of community. To that extent I think most of us are hermits now. How many groups other than family and the closest friends does the average person now feel a strong obligation to? I'd say very few.
Considering how much brutal treatment workers coming together to form unions have faced from their employers and the state alike over the last century-plus, I wouldn’t say that American society is entirely fine with community provided that they are grassroots, peer-to-peer efforts.