Is Tech to Blame for our Loneliness?
We’re plugged into social media 24/7 and yet we’re lonelier than ever
Human connection demands honesty.
It calls for the willingness to embrace every aspect of our self no matter how unflattering. Letting a fellow human see us as we really are is key to building deep and long-lasting connections, safe from judgment.
And yet, in an era when many are consummate self-marketers who obsessively curate their daily reality and redact or exaggerate their flaws, this isn’t the norm.
When capitalism and individualism rule, our daily interactions are shallow and often manipulative. This is observable in our use of social media as well as in internet content that only exists as a result of personal greed without a higher purpose.
For example, clickbait copy dripping with overwrought pathos has little to do with documenting what it means to be human. Instead, personal disclosure is used to secure maximum returns. Neither honest nor authentic, it is a calculated investment that passes itself off as human vulnerability.
Alas, many people cannot tell the difference between genuine narratives with hearts and guts and those hammed up for clicks and bucks. As a result, we become more and more alienated from one another, unable to hear ourselves think and feel in a world of “Look at me!” carnival barkers.
The first casualty of our desperate search for attention and validation is connectedness; the more we seek to hijack it, the more isolated we get.
While you can steal attention, you can’t crowbar appreciation, friendship, or love out of a fellow human.
Human connection demands curiosity.
How can others have a reason to know you when putting out with everyone without discrimination is your stock-in trade?
Human relationships are supposed to be intimate, a delicate dance between two humans who appreciate each other. It is this mutual appreciation that fuels our desire to find out more, to share our reality, and to create a joint one out of our combined dreams.
Leave nothing to the imagination and we feel we already know all there is to know about you.
Human connection is a slow dance between two people who are finding their feet together. So why treat it as a loud frat party and encourage the entire neighborhood to gatecrash it? Playing to an audience may yield fans and followers but friendship and love are inherently private happenings.
When the prospect of fame and fortune dictate your every move and obnubilates your judgment, do you ever allow yourself to be?
Or rather, do you ever allow yourself not to perform your life?
Human connection demands trust.
How can anyone trust us when they can see we’re either putting up a front or selling off every intimate detail of our private life to the highest bidder?
And without trust, there’s no getting into another human’s head or heart. You might get into their life but you’ll never know them and they’ll never know you.
Isolation will be your only true companion.
Trust is a form of surrender, and to those of us who come from abuse, it always feels like self-sacrifice, one we do not make easily. When we’re at all able to override the self-protective instinct that always tells us to run. It kicks in whenever someone gets close, whether we’re in danger or not because this is how we’ve been conditioned to cope from a young age.
Trust is always a risk but it’s the only way to be a human in the world rather than a human at a remove from the world.
And trust must be mutual.
Entrusting the contents of your heart and mind to someone who is unwilling to do the same means they’ll forever remain impenetrable. And you’ll invariably grow apart, be it as relatives, friends, business partners, or lovers.
One day, you’ll wake up and realize you have no idea who the people closest to you actually are. This is a deeply dispiriting realization, especially when you’ve spent years of your life by their side.
Only the courage to be yourself without any concern for what others might think of you can make you visible to kindred spirits.
While we’re quick to blame tech for disconnectedness, what if it were self-inflicted and a sign we’re not as self-aware as we think we are?
Tech only provides the tools but we get to choose how to use them and what for.
As long as personal branding takes precedence over curiosity and dialogue, loneliness will ensue.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.