Feb 20, 2020
What is loneliness: Why is it so bad
In the age of technology, we are more connected than ever, so why
do many people still struggle with loneliness? First, let’s
define loneliness. Loneliness is need of human
connection but not being able to have it. It is a
subjective experience and is not the consequence of being
physically alone. If you feel lonely, you are lonely. Loneliness
occurs when someone perceives their relationships as not fulfilling
their social needs. Dr. Andrew Wister from Simon
Fraser University believes social media may be
partly fueling loneliness by creating a false sense of
multiple connections. The list of friends you turn to for social
needs is much smaller than your friends list on social media.
What are the negative results of loneliness?
Chronic loneliness is not only emotionally draining; it is a
physical health risk. Researchers have likened loneliness to being
as detrimental to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Interestingly, brain imaging studies show that social rejection
(loneliness) activates the same brain areas as physical pain. Those
who are chronically lonely experience anxiety,
depression, and may feel physically ill. Loneliness
can also be a vicious cycle. Those who have been lonely for long
periods of time become better at noticing social cues but are worse
at interpreting them. To make matters worse, the person
experiencing loneliness is more likely to interpret social cues
negatively making them feel more isolated.
Check out Loneliness: Human Nature and the
Need for Social Connection by neuroscientist John
Capiocco and author William
Patrick for an in-depth look into the effects of
Are you lonely? How do you deal with this?
It is important to accept that feeling lonely is a normal
human experience, and there is nothing wrong with you if you
experience feelings of loneliness. If you tend to prejudge people’s
intentions as negative, or assume social situations are going to go
terribly, you may be lonely. Taking time to reflect upon previous
interactions with people is helpful in parsing out the negative
from the positive. Not every interaction is negative! To build
social connections it is imperative to get yourself out there.
Go to an event you’ve wanted to go to, or invite someone out for a
coffee. If someone reaches out to you, try stepping out of your
comfort zone and go with them. Even if a lasting friendship doesn’t
emerge, you will have succeeded in practicing your social skills
which are useful for future connections.
Expert in the field, Dr. Julianne
discusses living in a lonely