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Loneliness and the Age of Information

Contemporary English Language 4


16.05.2016.
Amina atrovi
Dr. Nejla Kalajdisalihovi

This topic is something everyone in my generation is familiar with. We are the ones
who grew up with every little thing that informational technologies bring. We are used to
being able to talk to our friends and family at all times, to connecting to strangers with similar
interests and also to being able to look for help if we cannot find one in our physical
surroundings. So, when one thinks even about these few positive features of the world we
grew up in, it is hard to find cons, or even if found, it is hard to think of them as serious. This
is where most of us fail to see the real threat, a threat which can have severe effects on human
experiences and on how we look at life in general.
As I was doing my research, I noticed that there had not been as many surveys tied to
this subject in the countries which used to be parts of former Yugoslavia as in the other parts
of the world. This may be due to the fact that people of these countries still have issues in
understanding psychological diseases as real conditions which demand a proper medical help
and treatment. Many of my fellow citizens still think that a person is not sick if there are no
visible symptoms of the disease, if something cannot be measured or easily assessed.
However, countries of the west prove to be a better example of acknowledging and treating
such problems.
The matter I am supposed to discuss is loneliness. Along with the depression, it is said
to be the plague of the twenty-first century. Some may find it strange for loneliness to be
connected with the occurrence of the ever-evolving information technology and, of course,
social networks as its closest companion. So, these two come together hand-in-hand and allow
us to connect, and stay connected, for as long as we want to. But how is it possible that
loneliness and connection also seem to come jointly? They seem to be the two quite opposite
concepts, so what makes them a couple?
We do not have to work too hard to find the answer. Since, today, most of our lives are
spent online, we post almost everything and anything about us on various social networks. We
celebrate birthdays, relationships; we praise our partners by posting a profile picture with
them in it The recital could be endless. We share every positive aspect of our lives with
people on social networks who then like those posts of ours, comment and put cute stickers
saying they love us. They seem to be happy because of our happiness; that is one of the
easiest things to believe in. We soon start interpreting likes for genuine emotions. And why is
this the case, exactly? The answer is quite simple, in my humble opinion. All of us have a

need for acceptance and support, which is psychologically proven. Seeing those positive
comments and likes to the things we post always feels good.
We also, somewhere along the way, started believing in everything people post about
themselves. Their happiness, just like ours, seems to be real. But is there a place for sadness?
We harshly judge those who post something sad, saying that people should be sad in private
and deal with their problems on their own. So, when we praise, very often fake, happiness and
criticize sadness, we condemn ourselves to the never-ending cycle of loneliness. All we get to
see is joy, so we try to meet other peoples satisfaction with posting something similar of our
own and there is nothing wrong with that part. However, we forget that other people are
sometimes sad and lonely, just like us, so we feel alone in our emotions. We end up feeling
that no one can understand us and we are partly right; mostly because people with whom we
communicate do not actually know us. They know the image we portray, but not the essence
of our being. This is where we only have ourselves to blame. Of course, it is a lot easier to
form relationships online, to talk and to walk away whenever things get a bit uncomfortable.
But in order to forge any kind of meaningful liaisons, we have to get out of our comfort zones
and let people in, show them ourselves, so they could understand our sorrow as much as they
enjoy our happiness. The simplest definition of loneliness is being around people who do not
understand us, but we deny people that ability at the very beginning. Having our loneliness
understood demands some effort from our sides and this is something we evade to accept. The
most effective cure for this is actually communicating with people in person, developing
social skills and being present. Today, even when we go out with others, we end up scrolling
our Facebook feed. We tend to grab our phones even at the slightest possibility of the
occurrence of the awkward silence, without ever trying to start a meaningful conversation, or
any kind of conversation for that matter.
To get a clearer picture of the situation at hand, instead of just relying on my own
experience, I decided to talk to other people my age. Through these conversations I also
wanted to see if we were even aware of this, mostly hidden, problem. Of course, I stumbled
upon two distinctive opinions, two approaches.
One group thinks that people only have themselves to blame for their loneliness and
desolation. To justify that, they gave me several arguments. The most mentioned one was that
peoples solitude cannot be justified by their fear of getting too attached and therefore keeping
their relationships shallow and online. They stated that everyone is scared and yet, those who

are not lonely do things in spite of their unease. Although the people I have talked to found
loneliness as a symptom of depression and found that depression itself was a serious issue,
they had no intention of upholding loneliness as an inexplicable matter. They also think that
this disease of the twenty-first century (they laughed at my mentioning) has a cure. People
should simply go out and try to meet other human beings, try to talk to them and also try to
make meaningful relationships of whichever label. The first group held a strong opinion that
maintaining significant connections was that essence of what made us human beings.
However, they did not support having relationships just for the sake of having them, saying
that this option is even worse than not having relations at all. They explained it to me: having
a one-sided relationship or the one we are not happy in makes us even lonelier than being
alone. I wondered why that is. When we construct something relevant in this aspect of our
lives, we expect things and not getting them in return makes us miserable. They told me that
no one should be dissatisfied and settle for that because that represents doing something what
is not natural to our being. Satisfaction should be a natural state, we should strive for that and
most of us do, but those who are not alone and yet are lonely, do something what their essence
does not approve of. That lack of connection between what we do and what we need could be
the reason and a way to explain a state all of us get ourselves in at one point of our lives. They
say that what we do when we venture there either makes us or breaks us.
Then, came the other group. Members of this faction had the complete opposite
opinion of the representatives of the first group. They justified loneliness and thought that no
one could ever be guilty for feeling the way they do. These young people had a strong belief
that loneliness and depression are the biggest problems of the society we live in today. They
also thought that these two issues were the base for every other problem which people face in
the social aspect. Their opinion was that the peoples surroundings, never-ending prejudice of
others and therefore, the lack of understanding was the reason loneliness and depression ever
came to existence. I was not surprised to hear this side of the coin too and I could see the basis
for a statement such as this one. Exactly because of these, people have a hard time opening
themselves up to others who might so easily reject them, even if giving up on our masks can
be really difficult for some. So it was not hard to see this enchanted circle of prejudice and
loneliness.
What did surprise me was that they expressed strong prejudice against those who
thought that people only had themselves to blame when it came to having those two disorders.
For people who blamed afore mentioned emotion for so many problems, I did not expect them

having expressed it as much. This concept confused me and made me think about it. After
some time, I realised that both groups were right in a certain way. People do have only
themselves to blame and yet, they have everyone else to point a finger to, too. This might be a
strange thing to say and even stranger to understand, but what each and every one of the
people I talked to lacked was, simply put, love. A pint of love leads to interest, which leads to
a conversation (possibly without judgment) and conversations can lead to millions of possible
outcomes. What creates prejudice is lack of knowledge, both of ourselves and others,
therefore, the lack of love for ourselves and others. Because, when we love something, we
want to know more about it.
The biggest truth there is in the world is, in my opinion, that everyone is different and
that everyones truth is special and worth understanding. Everyone is beautiful in their own
way and everyone has flaws too. For most people, this is easy to accept. But what happens
when we have to accept that our truth might not necessarily be someone elses? Here, we can
easily spot scrutiny. We put people under microscopes and evaluate them by our standards
while forgetting that they might not life by those, they might actually be living by their own
wishes.
What connects the lack of love and the word of information is that dose of ignorance
and shallowness. Even though we are exposed to so much data and given the ability to
broaden our horizons through internet, we tend to use it to escape all of that. Internet could be
sometimes used as a synonym for connection, but it does the opposite as the new generations
grow. Now, it should be used to name an expression of human escape to shallowness, simply
because it is believed it is easier. But is it, actually? We are in great need of love, but we are
not willing to admit that, let alone to show it towards someone else.
I have read a beautiful short story explaining this. It is called There is a Recipe to
Showing People You Love Them Properly, here it is:
A couple weeks ago, my mother and I drove my grandmother to a radiation treatment the
second to last. Her spirits were high, and she was saucy as ever despite being trapped in a
body waging war against her. As we drove, she brought up a conversation with a relative who
called her frequently over the course of her cancer treatment, but hadnt visited her at all. It
had been 5 weeks. Gran told us her synopsis of their most recent conversation.
What she said: You can tell me you love me all you want over the phone, but itd be nice to
see your face once in awhile.

What I heard: Love expressed as a statement doesnt always cut it. Tell me you love me all
you want, till youre blue in the face, but remember that its an action word. I can hear you,
but if I cant feel your love, well...
Love isnt safe. Its easy to say I love you over the phone, through a text message or email,
when were not face to face. Why do we do this? Is it fear? Theres no room for fear in the
love I know. Love stands before you, open, raw, accepting, speaking its truth and asking
nothing in return. Its the only thing I know that can simultaneously steal your breath and
bring you life.
Love cannot be quantified, measured, or reasoned with. Theres no escape plan. You
dont get to pull an emergency cord or shatter the glass on a fire extinguisher when it gets to
be too much. And thats why its scary. Its exhilarating-scary, and I fully believe its what
we were brought here to do. When a person lashes out in anger, jealousy, greed, or hatred, its
love that got warped somehow. Theyre trying, too. In fact, they probably deserve more
compassion than our easily slighted egos want to grant them.
Love doesnt need to be justified. How often to we find ourselves on the brink of a
relationship, or at a fork in the road, trying to explain why we love a certain person, why we
should be with the one but not the other. Love doesnt recognize risk analysis or pros vs. cons.
Ive found myself trying to explain why my affections occur the way they have why do I need
to understand it? Some things just are.
Love doesnt have to be dramatic or tragic. Its messy, but that doesnt mean Troy must
burn. It can be simple and unassuming.
It can be a man and a woman in the dusk of their lives, the man stooping to kiss the woman
goodnight while three generations of their family gather downstairs. As he moves her water
closer and shuts off the lamp on the night stand, she grabs his hand knowing her sickness
has made her impatient with him, knowing her love has been difficult but unwavering as she
croaks, Look at what weve built.

We seem to be scared of something so natural and essential for a healthy life. Internet
does not connect as much as we need it to.

Glossary:
-

lonely - sad from being apart from other people; \lonely \ ln-l\; usamljen
love - a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person; \ lv\; ljubav
connection - the act of connecting two or more things or the state of being

connected; \k- nek-shn\; spoj, spajanje


prejudice - a feeling of like or dislike for someone or something especially

when it is not reasonable or logical; \ pre-j-ds\; predrasuda


depression - a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad,
hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way; \di pre-shn, d-\; depresija

References:

http://www.artparasites.com/a-recipe-to-showing-people-you-love-them-properly/
http://www.vox-magazin.com/mudre-izreke-poslovice-i-price/2-uncategorised/89-

usamljenost-bolest-savremenog-doba
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-practical-professor/201507/the-loneliness-

social-media-part-one
http://2machines.com/184299/
http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/06/social-media-even-lonely/
http://www.techinsider.io/psychology-effects-social-media-2016-3?
utm_content=buffer6c50e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_ca
mpaign=buffer-ti