My First Blog Post: Why Does Loneliness Exist?

Something that’s been on my mind lately is the topic of loneliness. Why is loneliness so pervasive in modern western civilization? More specifically, why does loneliness exist at all? If that sounds like a ridiculously naive thought, consider this. If we look back at hunter-gatherer societies, people actively depended on each other for survival. Friendships weren’t some nice thing to have in case you got bored playing videogames, they were a necessity. This essential sense of community provided all the essentials of a thriving social life, regardless of whether you were a bit shy or awkward or whatever the case may be. Keep in mind this is total speculation on my part, I am hardly an expert on evolutionary psychology, but I’d rather express this uninformed opinion now and refine my ideas over time than to never commit anything to writing in fear of being ridiculed as an idiot with baseless ideas. But assuming this idea of hunter-gatherers having their social lives secured by the necessity of friendships, it certainly follows that our 21st century environment has put a decisive end to such an environment. Nowadays you only depend on your employer for survival, and such a relationship is often antagonistic as both parties see each other as a means to an end. It’s not uncommon for say, an IT guy to leave his apartment (where he lives alone), head to a cubicle in an office, bury his face in code for 8 hours, and go home, with not a single meaningful interaction taking place in person. Perhaps a few fake pleasantries here, a simple hello there, but nothing substantive, nothing meaningful. The same goes for a cashier who greets every customer with the same fake smile, asks the same tired, lifeless questions. “Do you want a bag with that?” “Do you have your points card?” “Here’s your receipt”.

(more…)