The Honking Goose

something to honk about

are we lonely?

I’ve been reading a lot about how lonely people are. Apparently they are spending too much time watching television and texting on their iPhone and not enough time socializing and chatting face to face. I’ve been reading that rather than foster community, Facebook makes people feel disconnected from others. Apparently scrolling through their timeline and seeing other people’s vacations and weddings gives them a deflated sense of themselves. Is this what people really think, or is this just the latest thought-trend?

older man sitting on a park bench texting two young women sit at the opposite end of the bench

I would like to take people at their word. If they say they feel lonely and disconnected I will believe them. I have a different experience. So am thinking critically about this conundrum from my own perspective.

I am not lonely. I live with my husband and my two sons and our rabbit and our fish. I enjoy their company. Our parents (the kids grandparents) come to visit some weekends and I am happy to see them. We go to the park when the weather is nice and my kids quickly make friends and play with new kids all the time. They have been at their school for two months and already have made friends among their classmates. Sometimes, I see my mom friends and we laugh about life and we talk about our jobs or our gardens. I chat with my husbands coworkers when we pick him up some days. I chat with my kids teachers at school. I chat with the checkers at the grocery store. I wave and say hello to my neighbors every day. I Skype with my sister who lives in Hawaii. I’ve Skyped with my husband’s grandmother who is 93 and lives in England. I write her letters several times a year. When I had a job outside the home (and I will again soon) I spent my hours working, and chatting and joking and laughing with my coworkers and our customers.

I am not lonely. In fact, I cherish my alone time as a contrast to the together times. I am somewhat of an introvert, I suppose. I like to read and write and sew and garden. And those are mostly solitary endeavors for me.

three men sit on a park bench reading newspapers and books historical black and white photo

Being the age that I am, 34, and married and a mom, my life revolves around my family. I don’t know what it would be like to be, say, in college right now in the era of the smart phone. With all the texting and Instagraming and tweeting that goes on. Does that become a barrier to real relationships? Do people really sit across from each other and look at their phones instead? I don’t know how that could be, but I don’t even have a smart phone. My cell phone does not do much and it does not entertain nor distract me.

And how about Facebook? Does this social media platform keep people at arms length? Is it getting in the way of forming real connections? Once again, at 34 years young, I feel out of date. Facebook wasn’t there when I was in high school and barely existed when I was in college. Everyone I know joined after I didn’t graduate from college. I don’t know what it is like to date or have high school besties in the age of Facebook. For me, Facebook lets me stay in touch with friends and family who I would have lost track of a long time ago without it. People who don’t live in the same town as I do. I get to see pictures of their graduations and their weddings and their babies and their travels. I’m happy for them. Yes, occasionally I am a little bit jealous, too. But mostly I’m glad.

As many of you know, I don’t put my own pictures on Facebook. I have many reservations about Facebook which I have discussed elsewhere. In spite of the things I hate about it, it is my only way of reaching and staying in touch with a good number of people in my life. That is what I’m hearing is bad about it. We should all be meeting face to face and sitting down for coffee or beers instead. But these people live hundreds of miles away from me. I can’t see them for coffee. Facebook isn’t preventing me from doing that. Life is. But that is just life. C’est la vie.

This is all from my own point of view. But I am ready to admit that others may have a completely different experience that is equally valid.

So what is the truth? Do the systems we built to keep us entertained and connected to each other do the opposite and cause people to be bored and disconnected? Or do we just have such a wealth and luxury of opportunity that we can’t think of anything else to want except for more?

Are we lonely?

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42 comments on “are we lonely?

  1. Sabrina
    October 29, 2014

    I see a lot of people nowadays lacking real communication skills. Sentences, if you can call them that, are barely sentences… don’t even get me started on spelling. I don’t know if they’re lonely, but they seem to think posting on Facebook “connects” them to the world. It’s almost like no one wants to take the time to converse face to face any more. When did texting replace a good ole phone call or face to face visit? Is it laziness? I think I took your post somewhere else. lol

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 29, 2014

      Not at all, that is exactly what I am commenting on that I keep hearing people say and write. I just haven’t seen it in my own life yet. Maybe I’ll have a different perspective when my kids are teenagers. Right now, the people around me don’t seem lonely and they seem pretty good at real communication. But I hear what you have just mentioned all over the place from many people, so there must be something to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rebeccaalene
    October 28, 2014

    I don’t know if people feel lonely (I’m with you. I’ve got three littles, a hubby, nanas, grandpas, ggmas, ggpas, friends and neighbors. I have a good “support group” and am not lonely) but I do think a lot “kids” don’t know how to have a conversation these days.
    They may be able to write a kick-ass response to something they’ve read but ask them a question in person and they stare at you blank faced. I remember when my youngest sister (who was the first kid in our family to have a cell phone during high school) and our cousin of the same age sat in separate corners on Christmas eve texting the night away while the rest of our family chatted, sang Christmas carols and generally enjoyed each other’s company. And they were even friends! That is something I can’t get behind.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 28, 2014

      Well, maybe they forget how to converse sometime in middle school or high school because the fifth grade girls at my kids’ school are the chattiest humans I have ever witnessed.

      I’m going to see it as a positive that people are even concerned about this being an issue. Because if people were texting and communicating online most of the time and NO ONE was questioning the overall pros and cons, I would be even more worried.

      Like

  3. Uncle Guacamole
    October 25, 2014

    I highly recommend sociologist Phillip Slater’s little book, The Pursuit of Loneliness, published circa 1970, long before the internet was a twinkle in our eye. He argued that we all claim to want close-knit relationships, yet we persist in conduct that separates us from one another. I believe television was the big bad evil back in those days.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2014

      Thank you for this comment. This is exactly what I was getting at. It’s like gluten-free. Companies make a few gluten-free products and suddenly everyone thinks they are gluten intolerant and it becomes this food trend.

      A few people posited that social media was making people lonelier, not more connected. Then everyone else just jumps on board parroting the same rhetoric without really examining whether that is true or not.

      I can’t be sure it is not the case. I just haven’t seen enough real evidence to convince me. And hearing a lot of people repeat the same sentiment doesn’t convince me. I will be convinced by solid factual evidence.

      Like

  4. annj49
    October 25, 2014

    I’m 65, widowed, living alone, and yes, sometimes very lonely, but I’m a bit of a “techno granny” with my iPhone, iPad and laptop, right into Facebook and loving the “company” and connections. It’s a way for me to “see” and “visit” family who are far away. It’s one way for me to reach into the lives of people I know and some I don’t know yet.

    However, I do see the problem with life on the Internet, as I wrote above. It’s addictive as well as useful. Has to be taken in moderation, if possible. Especially if we are still mobile. There needs to be a balance with some real life encounters. For some of us it’s a bit of a lifesaver. For some, like me, it’s a bit of a ministry. All kinds of things to consider. But yes, loneliness is a big factor.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2014

      As another commenter mentioned, social media makes a good servant, but not a good master. But I just wonder if it a case of misplaced blame. And I wonder if people are really any lonelier or any less social than they have been in other times in history. I’m not convinced yet.

      Like

      • annj49
        October 26, 2014

        Right. Misplaced blame. I have to think about that.

        Like

  5. adventurejennie
    October 25, 2014

    I am a lonely person. I’ve been married to my job since I was 21. I don’t get to do a lot of family time or holidays etc. If it wasn’t for Facebook and my phone, I would have probably offed myself a long time ago. I see the internet, social media, texting etc to be blessings.. Probably also a curse, but I definitely feel less alone when I have everyone at my fingertips, always…

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 25, 2014

      That is exactly what I’m talking about. Finally someone gets what I’m trying to say – thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very Bangled
    October 23, 2014

    I’m not lonely, either. But I don’t like how facebook makes me feel, for exactly those super edited and curated moments that you mentioned.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 25, 2014

      I feel pretty confidant that FB is going in the direction of MySpace and will become outmoded like a dinosaur. I wish it would happen faster though.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. MrJohnson
    October 23, 2014

    It’s usually only old people who think the internet and smartphones are ruining social interactions…haha. Take all of it away and you will still have just as many lonely people. It’s possible technology has made many people feel less lonely.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      Old people don’t use as much technology, so I don’t think it is as much of an issue for them. I’m actually hearing this complaint more from young people. Which causes me to wonder if perhaps they are just spoiled jerks who take all this for granted and don’t try hard enough.
      (Note: if you are a young person reading this comment, I totally don’t mean you. I’m sure you are not a spoiled jerk, but just that maybe your peers are.)

      Like

      • MrJohnson
        October 23, 2014

        Haha…I am the same age as you. These young people who are lonely probably want to blame their loneliness on something else so they do not feel bad about themselves.

        Old people don’t have an issue with technology and their own lives. I meant they are the ones that are always saying how technology is affecting young peoples social skills.

        Like

        • thehonkinggoose
          October 23, 2014

          I see what you mean. In general, people seem to have a really short memory and easily forget recent history. Older people have always complained about “young people these days”. Same old, same old. Different details, same complaints.

          I thought you were the same age as me. I was attempting to preemtively address any young person who might scroll down and read my comment and take offense. Because I care.

          Like

  8. annj49
    October 23, 2014

    This is “funny” for me, in the combined sense of both odd and laughable right now, because of where I am at. I was at a birthday a few days ago. People had their phones out for pics, no texting. There were games being played. People were having fun and chatting, participating.

    The birthday girl received a call on her phone. She answered it, then left the room to talk on the phone and all of a sudden, there were the rest of us with our phones whipped out, looking into our screens, checking, scrolling and texting furiously in deep concentration! I just had to laugh out loud, and comment, at which point everyone became a bit self conscious.

    Then yesterday, my son, who is military in Canada, told me I needed to take off all of his in uniform pics from Facebook as a security measure with everything going on here now, for the protection of soldiers and their families. I did not want to search through miles of Facebook to find and delete pics, thus losing also all the previous comments attached to them, so I took the deep plunge of deactivating my FB account.

    Whew! Immediate loss of hundreds of FB friends, groups, pages, interests, messages, and emails, AND, silence……a tremendous breathing space and realization of what is important. Who do I REALLY need to contact? Just a few very close friends and family.

    Well, nonetheless, being the addict I am, I rediscovered an old account to resurrect. It has no pics of my son. I’m not going to add everyone to it. I need to take advantage of the “room” I suddenly feel in my life. Take the time to inhale and exhale deeply, while I can.

    With Facebook, a lot of the mystery around life and the joy of meeting someone to find out what is going on in their lives is all removed. We already know all about each other and there is nothing much to talk about or we don’t want to talk about it. Our lives are like open books anyone can pick up and read. The excitement and anticipation of catching up is lost.

    We are missing out…..

    Take time to breathe…..

    Hmm. This could be a blog post…. 😉

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 25, 2014

      Totally could be a blog post. Those are both interesting anecdotes. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 25, 2014

      I’d also be interested to know how your experience of Facebook changes by using a different account and limiting your contacts. If you do blog about it, you could come back here and post a link if you want. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. onehundredtwentythreedays
    October 23, 2014

    I also don’t own a smartphone and I didn’t join FB until 2013. My husband on the other hand, is glued to his iPhone. I can literally be sitting right next to him and feel completely isolated from him as he is engaged on his phone. We (as a whole) text, FB, email, blog, etc…and it is “social” but it is not intimate. When people say they are lonely, I think it means they are missing true intimacy in their lives (and I am not referring to sexual intimacy). We are social creatures. Studies show again and again that community and relationships make us healthier and live longer. In my opinion, social media is a distraction and does make people feel ‘lonely’ because they are not creating real social bonds in the flesh. Look around at couples the next time you are out – they don’t even look at one another because each is too busy on their own smart device.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      I get the feeling that where I live, life is moving at a different speed. I’m just not seeing it around me the same way people are describing it to me. I do see people on their phones a lot, but they are usually standing alone, waiting somewhere. I don’t see people using them at restaurants the way I keep hearing about. But like I said, if others say that is happening around them, I believe it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. simplygiselle
    October 23, 2014

    Lonely AND social all at the same time is how I view it. Society can reach across the globe in an instant and chat, leave messages, pictures, jokes with whomever takes the time to read them, yet clinging to the device puts them in the ‘alone category’ virtually at the same time; focusing on the device and missing out on life that goes on around them. Dare I say – juxtaposition? Maybe oxymoron?

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      I wonder if people are getting so used to the ability to virtually interact that they are taking it for granted, causing them to just want more, more, more, like some bratty kid that has too many toys.

      There’s more people in the world now that there has even been before. How could there really be a shortage of opportunity for interaction and relationships?

      Like

  11. sabinecausey
    October 23, 2014

    I share your opinion. Although there is a lot of stupid stuff on social media, and sometimes I get a little jealous when I see People post pics of their world trips – I am still happy they give me the opportunity to keep track with friends or people I’ve met far away.
    But I’m glad it didn’t exist when I was in high school….

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      “I’m glad it didn’t exist when I was in high school.” Me, too. Me, too.

      Like

  12. claire
    October 23, 2014

    Like most things I think social networks are good servants but bad masters. Personally i have to guard against addiction and don’t have internet on my phone for that reason. I am concerned that this generation may grow up lacking in social skills due to a lack of real interaction which would be sad.
    The world is growing lonelier and it takes more effort than it used to to mingle and socialize. Thankfully, though i live alone and am retired, I don’t have problems with being lonely but then I do have family nearby and live in a friendly old fashioned town. I know many are not so blessed.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      I think that is right on, “good servants, but bad masters.”

      A friendly old fashioned town is a real blessing, that is my preference any day. But people who love the city often say it is because there is so much happening and so much to do, they enjoy the stimulation. I wonder if that is really changing or if people are perceiving it differently.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. hajrakhan11
    October 23, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading this post, interesting points to ponder over! what I’ve noticed from my generation is that we follow each other on social media platforms such as Instagram, like each others pictures and even comment sometimes, however when we see other in person we don’t even say hi or look at each other. I guess that’s the strange thing about platforms like insta, they create social anomie i think.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      But for someone shy like me, I would have avoiding saying hi or looking at others way before social media was a thing. So is it that the social media platforms encourage that sort of behavior even more?

      Like

      • hajrakhan11
        October 23, 2014

        Its a strange thing, I mean on social sites, people follow random people, look at their personal pictures but struggle to say hi in person. Social platforms have just distorted things I feel a lot more.

        Like

  14. john flanagan
    October 23, 2014

    There are more lonely people than ever and in an age of connectivity more are disconnected..and facebook is a crowded wilderness

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      I see popular people get hundreds of likes on their updates, where my similar ones get a dozen. Are these the people who are so lonely? Or are the lonely ones the ones that don’t get the overflowing positive response? Or both?

      Liked by 1 person

  15. juaneismann
    October 23, 2014

    I cannot speak to that issue except as an observer. I do see families in restaurants that all have their heads bent down to their screens and when the food comes, they eat with one hand while scrolling with the other. It is amazing how fast they eat. Just so they can go back to holding the phone with one hand while scrolling with the other.

    Even more strange is that they all get up at the same time and depart without saying a word to each other or anyone else.

    So I would say that people are doing it to themselves and each other. We pretend to get closer but we actually alienate friends and family by tracking (stalking) their histories and yet we never talk face to face with them.

    Like

    • onehundredtwentythreedays
      October 23, 2014

      I see this all the time too – it’s sad. The dinner table to used to be where a family gathered to discuss the day and spend time together.

      Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      How is it that people have so little self-awareness that they don’t even realize they are missing out on an opportunity to connect with their own kids, their own families, their friends?

      Like

  16. Yoshiko
    October 23, 2014

    We are lonely

    Like

  17. Alanna
    October 22, 2014

    Nowadays, looking through Facebook just makes me realize that I pretty much made myself a recluse in high school, and all that time of thinking I was a “cool, loner, badass writer-person”, was really just me eating lunch alone in the art room. lol 😛

    Like

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2014 by in Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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