Modern Society Make you Lonely
The Rise of Quiet Loneliness
The American Dream is dead, and we have killed it. How shall we comfort ourselves?
“We seem to understand the value of oil, timber, minerals and housing, but not the value of unspoiled beauty, wildlife, solitude, and spiritual renewal.”
- Bill Watterson
The following is an excerpt from my book, Reexamining Society: The Best of Helm of Awesome
Life is amazing, yet so many are quietly depressed. We are more connected than ever, and lonelier than ever.
Many young people have grown disillusioned with the current path we were taught to pursue. We are taught that we need money, a nice house, a car, a diamond ring, a lot of friends and a well-respected job.
What we really need is a closer connection with each other, time spent in nature, a home that shelters us, and a few good friends that we can trust. We need to let go of our shackles of mindless consumerism and pursue a life of creation. It is time to change your life.
Whatever your current problem is, modern society thinks it can only be solved by spending money or taking a pill. Are you overweight? Well, there is a pill for that. It’s basically meth, which is an appetite suppressant. And it’s only legal if you buy from big pharma. It’s illegal if you buy it off the street, because these unlicensed pharmaceutical representatives are big pharma’s competitors. After all, you can’t beat them at their own game.
For decades, we have waged a pointless war on drugs because it was the perfect excuse to target minorities and poor people. If modern society cared more about your health and wellness than they do about profit, then doctors would recommend a more natural diet and exercise. But there is less money to be made from going to a gym and eating less food.
The major food corporations’ profit from those who overeat so they have no interest in your welfare either. The typical American diet is rich with processed foods not found in nature. These foods are full of cheap filler product and unnatural additives made in a lab. Those who understand this realize why the typical American is so low on energy. Food is fuel and most of us are running on empty. Thankfully capitalism has provided us with energy drinks. Every problem has a solution that will take your hard-earned money and plug it back into the system. Capitalism always wins.
Are you lonely? Well, I am willing to bet there are hot singles in your area. Go check, I’ll wait for you. Or you can post a picture of yourself online. More cleavage equals more likes. Back in the day, we used to sell ourselves for currency, now attention is the new currency. Validation seems to have achieved parity with the dollar.
The rise of internet dating and dating apps is another example of how disconnected we have become. Swiping right is the new speed dating. It always existed but now it is faster and more accessible. Online dating has taken all the fun and charm out of the serendipitous meeting that would happen when people met at an activity or through a friend. When all the cards are on the table in an online profile, the thrill is gone.
Are you unhappy? Well there are several pills for that. Or maybe you can buy your way out of depression. Finding more fulfillment in your life sounds like a lot of work. That new sports car must be the solution. The advertisers told you, so it must be true. Maybe you just need that new gym membership. Planet Fitness offers free pizza on Fridays. This is brilliant. You lose a little weight throughout the week, then gain it back on Friday. Maybe Alcoholics Anonymous could start serving a glass of whiskey to reward a month of sobriety.
In a world of for-profit self-help meetings, this would be inevitable. When did everything become about addicting your customers?
Is it any wonder that so many are struggling to find time to cook a healthy meal and spend 60 minutes exercising when we spend 8 hours trapped in our fluorescent cubicles? Our cities are constructed so that we drive instead of walk or bike to work. I feel this is intentionally engineered to keep people so busy they can’t find the time to question the nature of our current system.
For many of us, our average work day has exceeded 8 hours as work now follows us home via email and cell phones. We are never truly free to escape our jobs thanks to an increase in accessibility due to technology. The technology that supposedly was going to free up our time; instead we are shackled by the invisible chains of wi-fi and 5G.
So now we work all day and we are mentally checked in at night too. If you go out in public, it’s impossible to miss. We see couples sitting across from each other staring at their phones instead of conversing with each other. Even if it’s not work, our phones have programmed us to compulsively check them every few minutes. If we forget to do this every so often we might remember the serenity of silence or the calmness of boredom.
“Notifications are just alarm clocks that someone else is setting for you.” - @Naval
We follow up with clients who we told we would always be reachable. Our parents used to go home from work. Our generation has the “fortune” to be able to bring our work home. It sure is such a privilege to work longer hours and receive less pay as the purchasing power of the dollar has been dropping for decades. Thanks for all the quantitative easing. Even the Fed wants an easy out.
Don’t worry though. I’m sure the CEO in charge of your company is way better off than in the past. He was efficient enough to save the company millions by laying off those employees and just passing off the work to those who survived. Or better yet, he automated the jobs or sent them offshore.
These companies even have the audacity to ask employees for their loyalty. Most people will find that to be a one-way street. But at least you can’t email while you drive so then we are free to zone out to music or better yet, podcasts.
You wait, when cars are driving autonomously, even those moments of our lives will be captivated by work. It’s all about maximizing productivity after all, but not increasing wages to match said productivity. If your company doesn’t do this, your competitors will, and you will be left behind. Life moves fast.
We have become so disconnected from each other, the new form of congregation has become social media. We feel lonely and disconnected so we check our phones constantly hoping for our little hit of dopamine in the form or likes, share retweets. We are longing for a connection, for validation. There are many who abuse Tinder not for hookups but for social validation.
What most of us want is to be told that we matter. Whether it is by being funny, smart or pretty, we all crave validation and it’s becoming a rare commodity. We hide from each other because the news told us the world is scary. Interaction is largely online now.
The reality is that this system doesn’t want us together because we might talk about it and realize how wrong our society is and how we long for a simpler life. The average life is unfulfilling. Therefore, many soldiers will miss the brotherhood and sense of duty provided by warfare and want to go back for another tour.
They miss the connection they share with their fellow soldiers and the sense of purpose. Modern life is way too comfortable and meaningless. I’m not suggesting we let loose a bunch of wolves in our cities, but you must admit, it would make for a more interesting day.
I see life becoming colder by the day. We used to run around town and run into friends or family and have spontaneous conversations. Kids today will never experience the serendipitous joy of running into your friend at Blockbuster and discussing the latest new releases.
Now everything is becoming automated or relocated to the internet. Shopping malls and most big box retailers have been eviscerated by the behemoths of Amazon and Wal-Mart. While shopping malls are no pinnacle of humanity that needed saving, we did lose a place where we could connect with one another. We no longer hang out at the malls; now we hang out in group texts that are as inescapable as they are shallow.
I envision a world where new community centers rise to replace the shopping mall. A more active and communal place. Instead of picking up new shoes, maybe we do yoga together. Perhaps toss a gym in there while we are at it. Even a microbrewery would be an improvement on the average bar. There could be an hourly day care where kids can connect with other kids.
Throw in a little farmer’s market or local grocer and it could become the new Saturday ritual. Kids play games with one another. Adults exercise and go grocery shopping while the kids run around with other kids. I long for a world where we don’t spend our weekends staring at screens having faux conversations with one another because this constantly connected world is constantly lonely, depressed and anxious. This is the rise of the quiet loneliness.
Something must change, and it must change soon. The millennials are here, and we aren’t as terrible as they want you to think. Yes, millennials are killing old retailers and restaurants like Sears and Bennigans. Look out Applebees and Red Lobster!
Old businesses that fail to adapt often do die but look at the new growth that is taking place. The rise of yoga centers all over this country should be a welcome change over another chain restaurant that serves reheated food. And the microbrews and food trucks are a breath of fresh air. So many fear change, but the only thing worse than change is stagnation.
It is the suburban parallel of the forest fire wiping out dead and decaying trees to pave the way for new growth.
Everyone fears being left behind. I am beginning to look forward to it. Someday I will be the old man that they say doesn’t get technology. I’ll say they don’t get nature or peace and quiet. Both of which are under attack and increasingly rare. Now I long for a day where I can unplug from the phone when I want, but that’s a few years off. It always is right?
We are all quietly lonely. Genuine conversation is harder and harder to come by when everyone has their heads down in their digital world. We talk about augmented reality coming someday, but we are already living it. Our daily lives are so intertwined with our phones that we are essentially cyborgs.
We love our online avatars, because we can change them with instant satisfaction. If you’re overweight, it takes a lot of time and effort to fix that in the real world. Online, it is all about camera angles, cropping photos and sharing pics of healthy food. You never see Instagram photos of someone in their sweats sitting on the couch with a pint of Haagen Daaz while watching Netflix.
Therefore, phone calls are so rare and why facetime has not been more widely adopted. With texts we can edit and think about each response until we get it perfect. The awkward pause in a conversation doesn’t exist in text; we pretend we are so busy doing awesome stuff. In the pick-up artist community, they’ll tell you to not even respond to girls on the weekend. You’ll catch the highlights on Facebook later. Texting has no filler words. No awkwardness and thanks to emojis, now we always have something to reply, even if we have nothing to say.
The typical person is afraid of being rejected for who they truly are, so we wear a mask. We stick to safe topics like weather, sports, The Bachelor. We are all just copies of copies; having the exact same conversation as many others across the nation.
That is why we love the internet. Anonymity allows us to let our freak flag fly. Except likes and upvotes ruin this last bastion of honesty as we seek validations in the form of karma or retweets. Maybe we are lonely because we no longer have real genuine connections. We no longer want to be sincere or individual because how will that look? Will people like this? Will they share it? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just talk about what everyone else wants to hear…….
So, our culture doesn’t leave much time or energy past being the cog in our corporate machine. We have so little free time and much of it gets wasted on TV, video games or mindlessly perusing social media on our smart phones. Many turn to drink or drugs to numb themselves from this twisted reality. We judge those who do this, but we’ve all become addicts. We are addicted to dopamine and the advertisers are exploiting our attachment to our devices.
Facebook, Reddit, Candy Crush and so many more have found a way to mainline dopamine to us through our smartphones. Game developers now focus on how to make gaming more addictive instead of how to make it more fun. I’ve grown disillusioned with the entire industry. I used to spend countless hours playing video games. Between the psychological head games and the fact that I have better things to do with my time, I rarely play video games unless it is to bond with my kids. They lost me at the unethical introduction of skinner boxes, or casino tactics into games marketed towards children.
We’ve become hardwired to the matrix. I see many in society essentially as cyborgs. Our phones are a part of us now. We have them with us everywhere and fear being away from them. We sleep next to them. We record moments through them. They remember our passwords. They provide turn by turn directions for us to anywhere we want to go. There is nowhere left to explore. Many people don’t know how to live without a smartphone anymore.
I hope some of us are aware of this and are weary of the repercussions of our digital society. This is uncharted territory and the long-term effects will be studied years from now. We are simply guinea pigs. Be mindful of your surroundings and appreciate every beautiful moment. Take a few minutes every day to unplug. Meditate and appreciate the sound of silence. It is endangered. Read a book occasionally. Get outside and enjoy nature. And for the love of all that is holy, start talking to your fellow man when you go out for dinner.
If you enjoyed this, then you will love my new book. The Best of Helm of Awesome is a collection of my writing under my previous website. In this book I delve into the insane society we all live in. It is time to reexamine our lives.