For the most part, the true impact of loneliness doesnâ€™t really hit people until they leave the confines of school.
School was the ultimate breeding ground for friendships. You were with people of the same age, who most likely had the same interests, and you met with each other consistently over a long period of time. All these factors put together helped lay the foundation that facilitated the forging of strong friendships.
But then after high school and college, most people started to go their own separate ways. They moved on to new cities and jobs, some to other countries, while others got married and started their own families, and all those factors that helped make friends in the past were seemingly pulled out from under the rug.
And then the full impact of loneliness started to sink in.
Even though you were surrounded by so many people, you still felt lonely in the sense that you didnâ€™t have many people you could truly confide in. For most people, the only person they could truly confide in was their spouse.
The funny thing here is that everybody assumes and has the impression that everyone else has a huge number of great friends that they go out and party with every weekend, but thatâ€™s not really the case for the most part.
Most people are very lonely. They are socially isolated despite the huge number of people that surround them. They crave true friendships.
The usual suspects that people point to in order to explain this growing phenomenon of social isolation is the advancement in technology.
Television is the easiest target to pick among all advancements in technology. Itâ€™s become our number one source of entertainment whereas in the past, when television wasnâ€™t very available, people had to turn to socializing with others as their primary form of entertainment.
Couple this with the fact that more people have longer commutes and work longer hours, and itâ€™s easy to see why most people donâ€™t have the time or energy to socialize after coming back from work. Itâ€™s much easier to sit back, pop a beer open and watch an episode of Lost on the tube.
Then when the weekend rolls around, since no attempt was made to make new friends during the week, people find that thereâ€™s nobody to go out and do things with on the weekend so the TV becomes the solution once again. Then the week starts over again and the same story repeats and lends itself to a very viscous cycle.
But some may argue that technology has facilitated socialization by helping keep people in touch with each other, but more often that not, that kind of technology is used to do just that – to touch base with others, whereas in the old days, that wouldâ€™ve been done face to face. Most people just use the advancements in technology for the sake of talking, in an effort to distract themselves from their loneliness rather than take their relationships with other people to higher levels.
Technology has also provided us with our own personal entertainment which allows us to easily trap ourselves in own little bubbles, oblivious to the world around us. Walk down any urban city and youâ€™ll see the all too familiar white earphones in peopleâ€™s ears as they nod their head to the beat of the music on their Ipod.
Technology has kept us occupied with ourselves outside the house and inside as well.
Add to that, technology and the advancement in society has improved to the point where we have more options in our lives than we did before, so the life of living in the same â€ścommunityâ€ť you grew up in is no longer the norm.
Life was very simple back in the day. You grew up and stayed in the same town, held the same job for many years, everyone was your neighbor, and everybody knew everybody else and helped one another out whenever they needed it. Loneliness wasnâ€™t really an issue in rural towns because everybody was so close with one another because they were all that they had. Venturing outside of town was very rare.
Now that there are so many opportunities out there, people choose to venture out and live in the cities.
What makes this even harder is that when people travel to a new city and find that everybody lives in their own little world, the â€ścharmâ€ť of the friendliness of a small town is lost in the big city, and it becomes hard to start over and make new friends.
And thereâ€™s always seems to be an invisible wall that people put up when going out, which can be partly due to the influence of the media and all the reports of kidnappings, strangers, murders, rapists, etc., which has conditioned us to be very wary of any advancement made by strangers.
So people begin to withdraw into their own world and when they try to get out, it seems impossible because everywhere they look, people seem to be in their own respective cliques and everyone knows itâ€™s not easy trying to break into an established group.
You roll this all up and you can see why so many people fee lonely nowadays.
So how do you stop this lonely spiral?
Part of the reason why itâ€™s so hard to make friends is that there is no â€śestablishmentâ€ť like there was with school when you were younger, where you had people of the same age meeting together everyday.
The closest thing you have to that is work now. But thatâ€™s a crapshoot because itâ€™s a diverse mix of all ages and backgrounds.
The best bet you have to help with your loneliness is to craft the life you want to live FIRST.
Then you will attract the friends that are well suited for your life, which will essentially fit YOU like a glove.
The truth is, people like people who are like themselves because as narcissistic as it sounds, we all think of ourselves as someone special. So if we like something and we find another person that likes that exact same something, itâ€™s easier to become friends with them simply because you think he/she is special and you have this common platform to work off of.
So again, the first thing you should do is craft the life you want to live first.
If you like exercising, then join a gym. If you like martial arts, join a karate class. If you like playing tennis, play at a park.
Once you do this consistently, youâ€™ll find people who like to exercise, who like marital arts, who like playing tennis, which are all the things you like doing, which provides very easy fodder for starting friendships.
If you donâ€™t like exercising or marital arts or playing tennis, then chances are very slim that youâ€™ll actually make friends at those establishments.
And another thing to note here is that if you do this, that important element of consistently which was so important in helping you make friends with school naturally comes into play here.
If you really like working out, playing tennis and martial arts, you will go those respective establishments consistently and youâ€™ll become a friendly face, making the process of making friends with other people who consistently go there that much easier.
But itâ€™s not enough to just show up and do your thing. You have to expand your social skills and the easiest way to do that is simply this:
Start treating everyone you meet as you would a friend.
Donâ€™t view them as strangers because if you view them as such, you will treat them as such.
The clerk at the convenience store is your friend.
Your next door neighbor is your friend.
The owner of the dry cleaner nearby your house is your friend.
When you start doing this, it becomes really easy to break the ice with other people and thatâ€™s something youâ€™ll find that a lot of people canâ€™t do.
But even if you can break the ice really well and turn strangers into friends, if you don’t strike while the iron is hot; it can turn out to be one of those â€śpseudoâ€ť friendships.
You know exactly what kind of friendships they are. Everybody has them.
â€śHi, how are you.â€ť
â€śHow are you?â€ť
A quick nod and a smile.
And then you each go your respective ways.
And of course thereâ€™s always the polite saying of â€śWe should get together and do X activity some timeâ€ť, but neither one of you will do anything about it.
If you donâ€™t take the initiative to take the friendship to another level, itâ€™s like starting a fire and having the embers slowly die in the campfire.
Take the initiative.
Everybody is always waiting for everyone else to make the first move.
Itâ€™s just that everybody is too afraid to make the fist move.
Youâ€™ll notice that within every social circle, there are the â€śplannersâ€ť of the group. They usually organize the outings and if they donâ€™t organize them, nothing happens.
Donâ€™t wait. Make the plans. Become the planner. Take the initiative. Whatâ€™s the worst thing that can happen? If they say no several times, take the hint and look elsewhere.
Last, but not least, as simple as it sounds, be a friend.
As hard as it is to make true friends after school, itâ€™s just as hard or probably even harder to maintain friendships afterwards. Ultimately, you want to make true friends, friends that you trust completely, who you can confide in, who youâ€™ll gladly help out in a bind and vice versa.
True friends are extremely hard to come by and the dangerous part about true friendship is that it doesnâ€™tâ€™ take much to ruin it. Everybody knows what Iâ€™m talking about. Everybody has had some experience with that.
What youâ€™ll find is that even ONE true friend is 100 times greater than knowing 100 people superficially because how many of those superficial friends will lend you their ear or help you when you need it?
Take the time to build and cultivate great friendships. Be a friend. Give them a hand when they need it. Take them out when theyâ€™re feeling down. Listen to them when they need someone to confide in.
Thereâ€™s nothing like having a true friend that you can count on. Itâ€™s one of the best things in life.
Humans are social creatures. We were not meant to be isolated from one another. Itâ€™s bad for us, both mentally and physically if we are.
Up to a certain point, you can blame the advancement of society and the media in general for the increase in social isolation.
Up to a certain point you can blame technology for the increase in social isolation as well.
But itâ€™s always up to you to do something about it. Itâ€™s always up to you to do something about your loneliness.
Itâ€™s just a matter of realizing that a lot of people, and I mean a lot, are in your exact same position. They feel lonely and socially isolated and crave to make true friends and you have to realize that everybody could use new friends, even though it may seem like they donâ€™t.
Itâ€™s just few are willing to make the effort, to break the ice, and to initiate things in order to solidify the friendship.
Craft the life you want to live FIRST.
Treat everyone you meet as you would a friend.
Take the initiative.
Be a true friend.
And youâ€™ll never find yourself lonely ever again.