Fresh facts on the consequences of social inaction
Why we feel lonely
We are all unique and unrepeatable, which means we are also capable of feeling loneliness for different reasons. Nevertheless, here are a few popular reasons that can sway the toughest of nuts:
1) You find yourself in a new situation. You’ve moved to a new city, like the heroine of the Netflix show Emily in Paris, where you don’t know anyone, you’ve started work in a new office full of unfamiliar faces.
2) You lack understanding. This is when you feel different from the people around you and find it hard to communicate about what’s important to you because others don’t share it – or vice versa.
3) You want love. All your girlfriends are happily married and long gone, and you’re alone, which makes you feel like you’re in over your head and the whole world, including your birth mother, is pushing you to find a romantic ideal. Or under the influence of the same reasons you finally got into a relationship, but in the process of living together disappointed in the chosen one, and you are still lonely, although you are kind of a couple.
4) You miss your loved ones. Old friends no longer have time to hang out with you – everyone has things to do, family, kids. Or you were born such a social creature that you need someone around you all the time – even if it’s just behind the wall (see the great Australian series Five Rooms for that topic).
The scientific causes of loneliness
When asked “Why do we feel lonely after all?” Most of us will shrug our shoulders or quote Aristotle: “Man is a social animal”. But in fact, there are psychological and even physiological reasons for this.
Researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven, the University of Chicago and the Free University of Amsterdam have concerned themselves with finding a scientific answer to this question and have conducted a series of studies on the evolutionary and biological causes of loneliness. The findings, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, stated that we have learned to experience loneliness in the course of evolution because it is a feeling that promotes survival.
As humanity has evolved, reconnecting with others “increases the chances of survival and the ability to pass on genes to the next generation,” the scientists explain. Awareness of isolation prompts the body to activate stress response systems. Longing or panic caused by loneliness are the alarm bells needed to prompt the body to seek out opportunities to communicate.
In addition, researchers have concluded that feelings of loneliness are hereditary. That is, if your mother, grandmother or any of your ancestors were prone to suffering from loneliness, your behavioural pattern will detect this ability as well. Certainly the social environment plays a role, but genetic coding forms the basis of personality formation.
If you are impressed by the scientists’ findings, take care of yourself by acting contrary to Durov’s advice. Criticism of social networks, messengers and the Internet in general in getting rid of loneliness moves into the realm of boomer whining. It’s too late to drink the borjomi, as Lao Tzu said, it’s time to accept the fact that online friendship, online dating, online sex, as well as online training and online travel have become a reality. Self-isolation in the year of the covid does not mean loneliness as long as WiFi is available to us.
Why loneliness isn’t always a bad thing
Let’s not forget that some people are not only comfortable with social inactivity, but also prescribed by nature. In 1921, Carl Gustav Jung, with the release of his book Psychological Types, introduced the terms “extrovert” and “introvert,” explaining that each personality contains a tandem of these traits, though in different proportions. Extrovert – is someone who realizes its potential in the company of others, and introvert company is not needed, as soon as escape from the crowd and idle chatter.
There is no reason to think that the handsome and intelligent Pavel Durov is a withdrawn introvert, but due to the fact that everyone has an unlike temperament, justifying a craving for solitude will reduce the loneliness crisis in the modern world. For many, loneliness is not an oddity or a loser, but a conscious and comfortable choice. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t indulge in the pressures of society, but indulge in self-contemplation or whatever it is you like to do alone with yourself. If one does not like noisy gatherings, talking, cuddling, but wants a laptop, headphones, walking in nature or avoiding the influence of other people’s habits – go ahead, enjoy yourself.