Loneliness is a topic that is little talked about, and in this article, I want to discuss it.
Recently, mental health awareness has received a lot of much-deserved attention. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even mentioned it in his Mann Ki Baat address.
He spoke briefly about depression, which was heartening. After all, the first step to bringing about change is to be aware of the issue.
A lot of suicide-awareness posts have also been doing the rounds. Many meet-ups are being organised all around for this purpose. People are actually taking mental health seriously. Finally!
However, amidst all this, loneliness is the one issue that people have remained silent about, even though it afflicts many in our current generation. This, despite the fact that my research has revealed the seriousness of the matter. Moreover, Google Alert sends me a list of articles on loneliness, daily.
Now, this silence on loneliness confuses me for the following reasons:
1. Google Alert sends me a list of 10-20 articles on loneliness and related issues, every night. This has allowed me to stay updated on the mental health situation in India and the world. Also, my organization, The Wall and Us, deals with loneliness and helps lonely people.
Loneliness is an epidemic. In fact, there have been many surveys and studies regarding this in recent times.
Wales, England and many other countries around the world have accepted that loneliness should be addressed urgently. If these countries can talk on this issue, then why can’t India?
2. Loneliness has certainly affected our generation to a large degree, especially since most of us spend our time on social media. Social media isn’t bad – overusing it, is!
I know many people who are dissatisfied with themselves, but are perfectly okay with projecting a different persona of themselves, online.
It is no surprise, therefore, that we are inadvertently losing touch with our true selves. Face-to-face conversations aren’t as important or relevant as they were before. An emoji or a five-line text message can pass for a conversation, nowadays.
After all this, is it surprising that we feel lonely and tired at the end of each day?
It’s like everyone has built up a wall around themselves. This wall helps them hide who they are and what they stand for.
This is precisely where people start their tryst with loneliness.
This brings us to an important question: Why isn’t anyone talking about it?
The answers to this are quite simple:
1. Our country is riddled with stigma and taboos. In India, it’s easier and better to bury things than to talk about them. After all, why bother? It’s easier to accept things while pretending, right? However, just as mental health awareness is now being discussed, it can be hoped that loneliness too will be a subject of discussion and debate in the near future.
2. Most people can project their artificial personas effortlessly, especially on social media:
Why not post the most-edited selfie on social media? Your skin is of a lighter tone? Well, nothing a couple of Instagram edits and some make-up can’t fix! You are over-weight? No problem! Wear loose clothes! You feel lonely? Let’s make a plan with some people who don’t really understand you. Fit in. Everyone else is doing it! And the list goes on…
Someone somewhere has to step in and ask the questions: To what end do you plan to indulge in all this? And how far are you willing to go on with this?
Sadly, no one can answer the questions but the persons concerned.
While these words may not be appreciated by the younger generation, they will certainly resonate as one grows old.
Maybe then we will realise that the reason why we felt so lonely late at night was because we lacked ‘real’ friends who could have helped us during rough times. Perhaps then we would realise that the heavily-edited selfies actually amounted to nothing.
We may also realise that we need to actually empathise with people to connect with them, instead of offering sympathies and condolences online.
More importantly, we will also realise that it is necessary to break the wall that that we have built around ourselves, to get rid of our loneliness.
Then – and only then – will our tryst with loneliness truly end!