Monday 30 September 2013

Generation Connected And Why It's Ok To Be Lonely Sometimes

Have you got hundreds of  Facebook friends, most of which you would probably not even say hi to on the street let alone invite to yours for a cup of tea? Do you spend a good part of your day  liking pictures on Instagram, coming up with cutting and witty replies on twitter and sending out iMessages to acquaintances to make sure your spare hours are safely filled with fun activities? The answer to most if not all of the above for the generation that I am part of is a resounding and rather worrying yes, a generation that, it seems, has become incapable of being happy alone. Lets be honest we have all sent that drunken text to a love interest that never quite got his act together. We do this knowing it will do little good, yet in the spur of the moment and after a night in an anonymous club environment and  on a lonely way home, we choose to cling onto that little snippet of hope that maybe, just maybe, the guy will after a badly worded and probably not very accurately spelled message change his mind and fall in love with you. Of course he doesn't and the next day you will ultimately feel not only hungover but embarrassed (  in most cases also  because it was done more out of loneliness than genuine interest), yet to me exactly this kind of behaviour  is symptomatic of a wider problem.

In a world where we all work long days with short lunches and return to our little rooms in flat shares often with complete strangers, we have become obsessed with cultivating and maintaining a social life that is almost as rigorously planned and stressful as the jobs we work in Monday to Friday. I am not only talking about Instagram etiquette ( you have to like certain people's pictures, some you can't follow yet regularly search for anyway especially exes and former friends) or group chats on Facebook organising the next big party, but an inner urge to keep our diaries filled, brunching, dinning and partying with people that as sad is it is in most instances we don't really like all that much. It may in our eyes prevent an overwhelming fear of loneliness that seems to equate to ultimate social failure these days but rather paradoxically has resulted  in most of us wasting much of our twenties clinging on to friendships and relationships that are as superficial as the platforms that are used to keep them going and in fact leave us lonelier than ever. Just because they have tagged you in that burger picture on Instagram doesn't mean that there are actually very interested in the emotional state of you and seeing this type of friend every few weeks will hardly  offer the platform to form much more than a surface knowledge of the person sitting opposite you. Why do we still invest so much time in these kind of friendships? It's simple- we do not want to be that person stuck at home on a Saturday night or having brunch out for 1 or even just going for a coffee by ourselves. Added to this of course is also the fact that our lives ( or lack off  we fear if we fail to comply) are near completely transparent through  the aforementioned social media channels that we have slowly shaped our lives around and that have further added to the stress of not being alone and making sure the world knows this through visually well composed and fun pictures ready to be "liked".

 I can't say that I haven't  been more than  guilty of this too, especially in my meticulous planning of eating out activities at weekends,  until one day something hit me. I  was actually putting  more effort into keeping these kind of relations alive than the happiness and actual satisfaction I was receiving in return. I have my few very good  ( and indeed very valued as they put up with me)  friends that have seen me through it all- the good the bad and yes the very ugly, and that without a doubt always manage to make me feel better. I may not see them every week but when I see them it's far more rewarding than the money wasted on people slotted in to fill my weekend just to, and I can't even deny not falling victim to this, not be viewed by the world to be having no life. Of course it's not easy to be by yourself especially because it means actually having to face up and think about the things we try to push to the back of our minds through  packed social and medial  life. Facebook, Instagram and twitter might mean we are less bored on the tube but they also mean that we seem to have forgotten to be  with just  us and OUR thoughts much like the time spend  with circumstantial acquaintances  discussing holidays and other rather dull subjects  to avoid thinking about problems at work, insecurities and fears that we need to face or at least discuss with people that actually want to hear about them.

Of course I still want to go out at my weekends and try new restaurants but I equally have realised that its ok to live in the moment and make time for the people that really matter,  a spontaneously organised day with one of my best friends doing very little that is instagrammable but very much that is good for my soul or  a Sunday evening in my pjs watching German political discussion shows and eating roast vegetables with lots of sweet chilli sauce ( two guilty pleasures) now my preferred options that I don't feel guilty for choosing. Yes that will mean  sometimes feeling a bit sad about a few things because I get the chance to actually think about them before going back to the office on a Monday morning but i rather do that than chasing an ideal of popularity and attempt to constantly busy  ourselves that if anything has only guised  and in many cases worsened rather than cured my generation's loneliness. 


Renee Nabam said...

I absolutely love this post. Being alone is underrated.

Polly said...

I can definitely relate to this at the moment! Great, relevant post.

Sophia said...

Thought-provoking and completely true - I definitely (sad though it is) feel the same pressure to 'prove' my own worth via an active social life, or so to speak. Thanks for the eye-opener!

nothing said...

It's so true and I am pleased someone actually has he guts to say it, I sometimes feel we'd be a lot happier with less stuff to prove our social status by and instead go back to the community type of life style our grandparents and even parents knew.
oh and btw, german political shows aren't sad- although personally I am a sucker for Galileo and Aiman Abdallah ;)

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