I bookmarked this Kurzgesagt video 3 days ago, watched it 2 days ago, and yesterday I saw it again on kottke.org, and like for Jason, it resonated a lot with me :(
Everybody feels lonely from time to time […] when nobody has time for us at the weekend.
A “normal” weekend for me is: not talk (in person) to anyone for 2 days. I’ve never been a big talker, but I’ve had the feeling that I’m now somehow “un-learning” to have conversations with my friends.
Another weird thing I started doing in Zürich (and still do) is on Sundays for example, I would go to the train station, just to see people.
A common stereotype is that loneliness only happens to people who don’t know how to talk to people, or how to behave around others.
Well, I fit the stereotype…
Today, we move vast distances for new jobs, love and education, and leave our social net behind. We meet fewer people in person, and we meet them less often than in the past.
When I moved to Lausanne for studies, I had the darkest 2 years of my life. When I moved to Genève, it took me several years to make friends. When I recently left Genève for Zürich, I stupidly thought that true friends stay in contact, but they actually don’t (blame both sides!). In Zürich again, no friends for many months there. And now back in Lausanne, history repeats itself.
Most people stumble into chronic loneliness by accident. You reach adulthood and become busy with work, university, romance, kids and Netflix. There’s just not enough time.
I must be weird in that regard. I have plenty of time.
Large scale studies have shown that the stress that comes from chronic loneliness is among the most unhealthy things we can experience as humans. It makes you age quicker, it makes cancer deadlier, Alzheimer’s advance faster, your immune systems weaker. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity and as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
I’m a chain-smoker, yay!
When loneliness becomes chronic, your brain goes into self-preservation mode. It starts to see danger and hostility everywhere. […] Loneliness makes you assume the worst about others’ intentions towards you. Because of this perceived hostile world, you can become up more self-centered to protect yourself, which can make you appear more cold, unfriendly and socially awkward than you really are.
Add a sprinkle of self-doubt, and you got yourself a lifetime depression.
Each and every one of us has a story about ourselves, and if your story becomes that people exclude you, others pick up on that, and so the outside world can become the way you feel about it.
(semi related) A couple of years ago, a friend noted that I should stop being so negative on Facebook. So I stopped posting on Facebook. Instead of stop being negative.
You can self-examine what you focus your attention on, and check if you are selectively concentrating on negative things.
Yes. And the solutions to all my problems are probably not the ones I think they are.
Then, there are your thoughts about the world. Are you assuming the worst about others’ intentions?
Yes. But it’s mostly based on facts. People not showing up, canceling, not replying to messages…
Are you trying to avoid being hurt and not risking opening up?
Yes. Part of the reason why I’ve been single for over 6 years (or 8, depending on how you count)
Can you risk being open and vulnerable again?
just go to something you’re usually too afraid to go to or too lazy to go to, like a D&D; event or a sports club. Everybody’s different, so you know what’s a good fit for you.
Like… go out to bars? like 99% of people do? It would probably solve a couple of my problems at once. But bars don’t make sense! Annoying drunk people, noise that makes it even harder to understand and talk to people… argh!