Our private online worlds

When we enter a coffee shop in which everyone is engrossed in their private online worlds, we respond by creating one of our own. When someone next to you answers the phone and starts talking loudly as if you didn’t exist, you realize that, in her private zone, you don’t. And slowly, the whole concept of a public space — where we meet and engage and learn from our fellow citizens — evaporates.

Has our enslavement to dopamine — to the instant hits of validation that come with a well-crafted tweet or Snapchat streak — made us happier? I suspect it has simply made us less unhappy, or rather less aware of our unhappiness, and that our phones are merely new and powerful antidepressants of a non-pharmaceutical variety.

Andrew Sullivan writing in New York Magazine

Social Media is no Panacea for Loneliness

A new study finds that spending more time on social media platforms is actually linked to a higher likelihood of feeling socially isolated. Although it's possible that increased social media use could help alleviate feelings of social isolation, increased social media use could also have the opposite effect in young adults, by limiting in-person interactions, the researchers wrote in the study.  In addition, social media can give people the impression that others are leading happier lives, because people sometimes portray themselves unrealistically online, the researchers wrote.

"It's possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or, it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world. It could also be a combination of both," said senior study author Dr. Elizabeth Miller. "But even if the social isolation came first, it did not seem to be alleviated by spending time online, even in purportedly social situations.”

Sara G. Miller, Live Science

those pathetic people

Most of us, driven by our own aching needs and voids, address life and other people in the stance of seekers. We become what CS Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, calls “..those pathetic people who simply want friends and can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends.”

Most of us know our need to be loved and try to seek the love that we need from others. But the paradox remains uncompromised; if we seek the love which we need, we will never find it. We are lost.

Love can effect the solution of our problems but we must face the fact that to be loved, we must become loveable. When a person orients his life towards the satisfaction of his own needs, when he goes out of seek the love which he needs, no matter how we try to soften our judgments of him, he is self-centered. He is not lovable, even if he does deserve our compassion, He is concentrating on himself, and as long as he continues to concentrate on himself, his ability to love will always remain stunted and he will himself remain a perennial infant.

If, however, a person seeks not to receive love, but rather to give it, he will become lovable and he will most certainly be loved in the end. This is the immutable law under which we live: concern for ourselves and convergence upon self can only isolate self and induce an even deeper and more torturous loneliness. It is a vicious and terrible cycle that closes in on us when loneliness, seeking to be relieved through the love of others, only increases. The only way we can break this cycle formed by our lusting egos is to stop being concerned with ourselves and to being to be concerned with others.

John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Love?

The Less Traveled Road

Briers below and limbs above. Avoiding them slows your walk. There's a log to step across. Here's a hole to avoid. Yet with your every step you come closer to seeing wonders few will know. The question is: Will getting past those obstacles below and above really be worth the surprising revelations you'll encounter? Choosing to walk the less traveled road may mean periods of intense loneliness and nagging doubt. There is the path of comfort and conformity and the path of adventure and self-definition. Your choice. 

Stephen Goforth

The Power of Lonely

The nice thing about medicine is it comes with instructions. Not so with solitude, which may be tremendously good for one’s health when taken in the right doses, but is about as user-friendly as an unmarked white pill. Too much solitude is unequivocally harmful and broadly debilitating, decades of research show. But one person’s “too much” might be someone else’s “just enough,” and eyeballing the difference with any precision is next to impossible.

People should be mindfully setting aside chunks of every day when they are not engaged in so-called social snacking activities like texting, g-chatting, and talking on the phone. For teenagers, it may help to understand that feeling a little lonely at times may simply be the price of forging a clearer identity.

“People make this error, thinking that being alone means being lonely, and not being alone means being with other people,” John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, said. “You need to be able to recharge on your own sometimes. Part of being able to connect is being available to other people, and no one can do that without a break.”

Leon Neyfakh, writing in the Boston Globe