It might sound like something quite unimaginable to really comprehend considering the world population is at 8 billion people but it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a resounding feeling of loneliness in the 21st century especially here in the Western world. So what is the culprit?
There is no doubt Covid-19 has had a part to play. Isolation and lockdowns forced millions of people into at times solitary confinement and prompted many to turn to social media to try and placate a lack of connection. It was the biggest global event since World War 2 so it would be naïve to deny it's hand.
I know, I know. When in doubt blame social media and it's no secret I have a huge love/hate relationship when it comes to social media for so many reasons. I work in marketing so I know just how beneficial it has been in giving independent creatives and businesses a voice and a platform to showcase what they do but in another way it has also drowned out individuality and has become so saturated that it's seemingly impossible now to stand out from the crowd or to even have a voice that is loud enough to beat the everchanging algorithms.
Most of us initially used social media as a way to keep up to date with friends and even myself, when I moved back to England I used social media as a cost effective and quicker way to stay in touch with friends I had in Ireland. I even found some amazing opportunities back in my acting/filmmaking days through social media.
The hand that social media has played could widely be put down to promoting this unachievable, unrealistic lifestyle that plagued the likes of Facebook and Instagram a few years back but airbrushing and idealisation has been around long before social media. Even the glitz and glamour of Golden Age Hollywood promoted this idealistic lifestyle so social media can't be held fully responsible on this one, in my opinion at least.
Mental Health Awareness
Mental health awareness seemed to be more prevalent with the dawn of social media that it's hard to pinpoint the exact events that led to it almost taking front and centre stage in so many debates and discussions. This is where my philosophising and ruminating has drawn a huge connecting line between this loneliness pandemic and mental health awareness. I have to add just as a disclaimer that this is just my independent opinion and I am not an expert but I do have a fascination when it comes to researching human behaviour. I'm a writer through and through. I was researching Jung's archetypes when I was a teen and exploring character development throughout my acting years. I've also been blessed and cursed with an extremely analytical brain where I tend to pull apart the mechanics of everything just so I can understand how it all fits together. I also wanted to be an archaeologist when I was younger so I have a tendency to dig that little bit deeper and try and uncover a more hidden layer to everything. Always refusing to accept face value. So being an inherent analytical, Lara Croft, deep-diver, wannabe, I also have this uncanny ability to recognise patterns and cycles.
I would never go so far as to claim poor mental health is 'the new trend' but it's clear that people no longer shy away from divulging the state of their poor mental health in this day and age opposed to the 'don't wash your laundry in public' generations previous. Even I have done it on my YouTube channel which has been both cathartic and constrictive to some degree. I believe in authenticity and how on earth can someone be authentic if they hide away aspects of themselves but I also hate labels or more so being defined by a label. I think that we have lost a certain ability to overcome challenging times or as the mad hatter would put it, 'we've lost our muchness.'
Is that too bold a statement to make in this snowflake society? Possibly but I hopefully will skilfully tie it altogether so try to detach from being offended for a second. There is a reason you're reading this and it is to a) connect or b) appease your curiosity.
Loneliness Causes Mental Health Disorders
That heading is a marketing ploy to some extent. I am well aware some mental health disorders are caused by genetics or external trauma but there is no denying that loneliness can also be a huge cause for poor mental health. Shock horror Leah! Well done for pointing out the obvious. It isn't as obvious to most however that this goes beyond a longing for mere romantic or platonic partnerships though. Ah see, were you expecting that? It also goes beyond the broken families aspect.
In my opinion, loneliness actually stems from our human form. It is another survival instinct and becomes more prevalent the older we get because without sounding morbid it is a reminder of our mortality. Too dark? Let's pull it back a bit or throw you into a mini existential crisis.
Who Are You?
Yes I have an affinity with Lewis Carroll. We were born on the same day if that means anything to anyone other than me. But the simple yet crisis-presenting question that seems to be missed or purposefully ignored but may in another rabbit hole way lead into these feelings of inexplicable loneliness is ... who are you?
Mini existential crisis set in yet? I have a lame sense of humour.
But seriously though who are you? Can you wholeheartedly say who you are without your name? Without your labels or pronouns? Without your degrees or hobbies? Without your possessions or even geographical ties?
It's been the question that fuels my deep dive search into the unknown for years. I'm only 32 but to some that's young and to others that might be old.
But even my age isn't who I am.
Your traits can be a starting place to figure out who you are. Good and not-so-good.
More importantly can you separate your desires from the above questions? What are you trying to achieve in life? Forget material wealth or fame or adoration or even helping others ... can you figure it out? I often simplify the answer to a more well known term ... happiness.
Happiness isn't just achieving something however it is as the Buddhists would say a state of being. And yeah I can accept there are those that absolutely detest the notion of spirituality because they've confused it with religion and some ancient notion that we are ruled by some supernatural being that we have to worship.
Spirituality has, just like social media, been tainted. In my opinion spirituality pertains to all things to do with self. Mind, body and soul (life force for you atheists). Psychology for others and well being for the masses. The true nature of spirituality has nothing to do with supernatural deities or what happens after death, it is everything to do with us and is only ever an individual experience. My poetic side is screaming this line 'spirituality is the act of living.' There you go.
Everything to do with self is fractured . From early on we are conditioned to conform, to achieve, to increasingly look more and more at the world and others to tell us who we are, what we want and more importantly what's wrong with us. I believe that here in the Western world and especially with the saturated culture of social media that we are becoming more and more fractured. Our personalities are no longer a case of self exploration but in fact we are being told what and who we are at every turn and certainly every swipe across a phone screen.
Why is loneliness more prevalent in the Western world?
Everything to do with self is fractured in the Western world. Even this idea of Ego as much as I adore Jung and I admire his later quest for spiritual understanding in his work. We have even gone so far as to split the psyche. We are so quick to identify disorders and traumas and past events and good people and bad people and every incident that we experience in life as separate events and failed to see that they are all mechanisms or parts in the same machine and the self is that machine. Nothing is separate from us.
I made a video similar to this What's Wrong With The World? The Human Condition. Individuality is shunned. You have to pick sides. You must have some kind of disorder because you walk a certain way or you get easily distracted or you're not exactly in this tax bracket which means you can't quite afford that car and or how dare you not behave exactly how I want you to so I'm going to tarnish you with this self important disorder ... the more we separate or create divisions outside we equally create them within. If we continue to abandon each other because we don't fit this label or we disagree on what the colour blue is then we are only further abandoning ourselves. I'm not saying you have to go out hugging and forgiving every person that wronged you be it intentional or by accident I am merely pointing out that without that person or without those events you are not you. I think this is a common misconception regarding therapy and yes there are some who believe in just accepting the past makes it easier to deal with but it's far from the truth in some cases. It doesn't erase the pain or trauma. Here's where I might cause controversy, pain is normal. Pain is a part of us. It's through experiencing pain that we learn what makes us happy. What makes us more of us. Yes I know I'd love to get to a point where folk wouldn't go around causing each other pain but change in the world only ever comes from us. I hate that whole heal your pain shit too. I think there are some naïve folk out there that confuse healing with being able to talk about your pain and not feel sad or here there's still something wrong with you because you acted out of character so it must stem from that time you stubbed your toe on a lego because whatever ...
Heaven forbid in this day and age that you claim there is nothing wrong with you because you will get labelled with something and separated. We know the very nature of humanity is flawed and is so by design. It is simply flawed because we see separation. It is the one species above all others that craves and pursues happiness but in it's very pursuit ends up pushing it further out of reach and leaves destruction in it's wake. I also don't want anyone with a less than savoury agenda jumping on or twisting my words. Leave kids alone. Kids don't stop developing til 21 to 25. Gays and trans people are real and isn't always caused by some traumatic event. All you folk conscious of these agendas will never find happiness.
I know for some there might be a ping moment in here but for others if you are feeling frustrated by what I've written about or overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness or even hopelessness I would advise that you seek mental health support. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so and again because I genuinely believe everything is connected oftentimes we only find the solutions we're seeking by looking outward and to others for guidance. That is the beauty of humanity and annoyingly for me that slither of hope that keeps me wanting to help or share what turds of wisdom I can.
It's also what annoys me about the quote on quote spiritual community at times is these self proclaimed gurus who have reached some peak of understanding then try to tell others what is right or wrong. I don't claim to be anything other than an annoyingly opinionated, curious creative. That's not a cop out as I love debating til the cows come home when anyone throws something at me and even if it hurts I always bounce back so yeah ... totally see how folk will think it's okay to throw shoes at me but hey ho. I don't know.
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