#TacklingLoneliness

The British Red Cross today put out a notice saying the UK was suffering from a loneliness epidemic. The first 8 tweets I saw about it blamed social media. I disagree. I think that over simplifies a complex situation.

Look at me as a current example. I am the only one of my old friends able to afford to live in the area I grew up in London. My working hours and commute up to a month ago had expanded from 8 hour days to 12 hour days and beyond traffic allowing. On top of that financial insecurity has become a way of life for some people over the last 10-20 years. Life is no longer do a job, get paid, enjoy. None of us know if we will have a job tomorrow and the volatility of currency has ensured those with a small amount of money often do not want to spend it on leisure or down the pub.

If it was not for social media I would have had no social interactions outside of my missus for the last 4 or 5 years. If I had the time to stop and think about my situation over the last 5 years, I would have probably been pretty lonely myself. Social media may be in part to blame for the current loneliness epidemic, but it sure as heck is not the only thing to blame.

British Red Cross

21 thoughts on “#TacklingLoneliness

  1. Sue Vincent

    It is by far the most ambivalent thing to blame. While it can be an isolating factor, it is also the only way many of us can keep in touch with friends worldwide on a regular basis.

    On an average day, I speak to my son (who is also my ’employer’…I am his carer) and the dog. A couple of times a month I get to see friends. Without social media, it could be a crushingly lonely existence. As it is, I seldom stop ‘talking’.

    On the other hand, without social media, I might get out and find company… it is always a double edged sword.

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      I reckon social media is what you make of it. It has downsides, but I do not believe they crush the upsides.

      Reply
  2. Wanda Luthman

    What a great insight. I believe financial strain and working long hours, long commutes or extra jobs keeps people from being social. People are tired and/or may not have the additional money to go out for entertainment.

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      Mmhmm. The soul crushing 9-5 seemed to turn into the soul crushing 6am – 9pm. Gonna have an effect on society in general.

      Reply
  3. Time4tea with Me

    Hmmm, same here. I’m home most of the time, and social media has allowed me to do some great stuff online, work, have friends, team mates etc. Its not the same as face to face but then there’s video calling too. I’ve discovered a whole new part of my family in USA and Australia. BUT you’ve still gotta get up and get out there. Is it due to laziness or lack of social skills that are now stopping people from interacting in real life? You have to put effort in. Is it an age thing? Time restrictions? The older generation are perhaps not online, maybe social media would help them to feel less lonely. There’s a thought <3

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      True for the older generation. Those that life in isolation due to age could benefit from a tweet here and there.

      Reply
  4. WeeManMike

    If you don’t go out much for what ever reasons, and your only contact with people is via Social Media, is that being lonely? I don’t think it is myself.

    Imagine people who are Agoraphobic and can’t go outside at all, I bet Social Media could well be a life saver for them.

    What if you have a long term injury or illness, or perhaps you don’t have any family in the same town or even at all. Social Media can allow you to talk with so many people like yourself, in your own town, country and around the world.

    But perhaps interacting with another human being via Social Media doesn’t fill the void of speaking face to face. I certainly don’t feel like that, but those that are suffering with loneliness might?

    I personally don’t think Social Media is to blame if people feel lonely. It’s a tough one as so many factors come into play, but I certainly don’t think Social Media is a major factor in today’s loneliness.

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      Yeah there is a physical and mental difference between talking to someone face to face and on Twitter isn’t there?

      Reply
  5. Michael Seidel

    I agree with your conclusions. It is more complicated and blaming social media isn’t the solution.

    I suffer loneliness but it’s from a sense that I don’t fit among others. Social media allows me to reach across state borders and discover people around the world that are more ‘like my tribe’, sharing my values and interests, than the people who live around me. The strains you mention often causes a greater sense of longing to find others like ourselves so we don’t feel so alone, and social media helps us achieve just that.

    I think the growth of social media is part of a shift of thinking about our values and what it means to be a family, a tribe, a state and a nation. Some are less adept at adjusting.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      Thank you. I think its too much a complicated subject now to just blame social media. It may be responsible for some mental shift in society, for good or bad, but to just blame social media for all societies woes? Thats a cop out isn’t it?

      Reply
      1. Michael Seidel

        I think it is. True story would be required, and probably the recognition that loneliness can’t be covered with one big blanket. More personal approaches are required, IMO. That’s a huge challenge.

        Reply
  6. tcriggs

    I agree. I think it is the quality of those online interactions too… Blogging is a whole lot different than FB, from what I have heard. (I don’t FB)

    I have a friend that would complain because ‘so-and-so’ is posting pics of FB of their island vacation, et al… ad nauseam.

    I’ve found that since I’ve been blogging again (and reading others’ blogs…) when I *am* around people here in the real world, I am beginning to have more (interesting) things to talk about… ooh…. this is my *thinking* place! 🙂

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      Ahh Facebook… Yes it is like that there… Very easy to get pulled into so and so arguments, so a place I generally avoid unless for branding for a company.

      Interesting blogging gives you more to talk about in the real world.

      Reply
  7. Phil Huston

    On my side of the pond there was “big news” a few months ago that social media was causing a huge rise in depression. People were biting on other people’s fifteen year old avatar pics and shots inside their million dollar beach front getaway condos, bolt on headlights and snow white teeth and bumming over it. I say stop being materialistic voyeurs and the pain will stop. Find some people you can communicate with, even it’s via tapping glass, be happy. Loneliness is another issue. I see groups of people standing around like the others don’t exist, tapping glass. So if you’re lonely or depressed, turn your phone off and kiss a stranger, just for the shock value. If you’re happy and you know it, tap some glass!

    Reply
    1. sable Post author

      Interesting thing there. When I was a youth, there was one guy in our social group who was always a pain in the arse and unsociable when you took him places. Bit self centered like you know? When mobile phones first came along, our group was thinning with life taking over. He would still come to the pub with us, but he was that guy who would come to the pub and play snake on a grainy Nokia instead of talking to us and buying his rounds. I imagine now he would be the tappety tapper on a glass screen of the group. With some people it doesnt matter if they are holding a lump of glass, plastic, or wooden spoon toy. They will play with what has their attention over talking to humans aye?

      Reply

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