Loneliness: The problem technology elevated but hasn’t yet solved

Virtual reality cementing issue permanently?

tether virtual reality
Mike Elgan

No person is an island. 

Back in the ’80s, the thought of 2017 was incomprehensible, at least to me. No one is that forward-thinking, or so I thought, who accurately predicts what life will bring in 30 minutes, let alone 30 some-odd years from now.

For all that the internet and accompanying technology has provided, I would suggest it has also taken away a huge chunk of our soul.

Yes, we can go online and shop for groceries instead of waiting in line in store checkouts or saying, “excuse me,” as we glide our carts past imperfect strangers.

Sure, we can apply for jobs at home on our personal computers and not ever lift a pen to fill out a traditional paper application again.

We can even find dates and make romance online if we want.

Virtual reality implies a level of authenticity so good that by virtue of its being “virtual” reality, it is favored by many over actual reality (and all of its unscheduled unpleasantness).

Using computers and going online should have been a benevolent, innocuous and productive endeavor as we migrated from dial-up modems to broadband access.

But, we got carried away.

We spent increasing amounts of time away from the people with whom we were supposed to be interacting and having relationships.

We forgot how to have in-person discussions; or worse, we never learned how to have them in the first place. This disappearance of social skills even prompted the ironic use of the word “Conversationalist” under the skills sections of resumes.

You can even carry on a conversation?

Why yes, I guess if you lived through the 80’s and big hair, you never lose the gift of gab. The hair, on the other hand, is another story, but I digress.

We live in a world where we stare at screens all day and night. The only time we’re not looking at them is when we sleep. But, many of us can’t sleep very well. Our minds never shut down long enough so we can enjoy quality, consistent, uninterrupted and rejuvenating rest.

In a nutshell, we’re miserable.

Consequently, we are lonely bastards, too.

And we’re suffering all of the mental and physical ill health effects that our state-of-the-art, self-induced loneliness provides.

Humans require companionship.

Whether it’s an animal or another person, we need to be together with something more often than we are alone.

People who live alone eventually get weird. I was told that a long time ago and didn’t believe, but I lived enough to understand it can be true.

Loneliness is a waste byproduct of technology and the internet. For every work deadline met, every potential dating profile viewed, once the initial, euphoric sense of accomplishment subsides, the un-virtual realities that are our pitiful personal lives, come crashing back to our consciousness’ forefront.

I’m unhappy I was compelled to write this piece.

You’re unhappy because you’ve read it.

We’re all unhappy.

And we’re all lonely--desperately longing for the closeness and intimacy that the internet, our work, personal computers and phones will never provide.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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