It’s 2017, a time when most of the planet are connected to each other in milliseconds. You literally can’t escape people, but I’ve never felt more lonely. It’s suffocating, and people are suffering in silence. It’s so easy, you don’t even realise it’s happening until it’s too late. But when you think loneliness, you always think elderly people, not young people.
Particularly recently, I’ve been withdrawing from society. Too be honest, there’s a million and one reasons why. Blame the MSc for a huge workload. Blame the new job. Blame EDS for the pain. Blame CFS/ME for the fatigue. Blame GAD for finding any gathering terrifying. Blame finding out that your officially have a hearing impairment. Blame that you’ve suddenly lost so much hearing in the last year alone that you now qualify for hearing aids. Blame having to suddenly accept that you’re no longer safe in a manual wheelchair, and that a powerchair is now the only option when you’re only 23 years old. Life is complicated, and everyone faces their own bespoke problems.
But I never predicted how all of those things would combine forces to destroy my social life. To destroy my connection with other human beings. I mean, with social media now these days, you can’s escape other people trying to make a connection, right?!?! We post the tiniest updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, waiting for the likes and the comments to roll in. Whether or not you want to admit it, that’s the truth. But I’m only 23, surely I can’t be lonely!?!?! That doesn’t happen to young people like me, does it?!?!!
Already, there have been a couple of studies which suggest that too much social media increases isolation – I’ll leave some links I’ve quickly found through Google at the bottom of this post. It’s not clear cut though, anything to do with mental wellbeing never is.
I know social media isn’t all bad, Twitter helped me find a whole community of people like me. People who understand what it’s like to struggle with demons buried in your brain. People who can empathise when you’re too unwell to have a shower. It’s an incredible family, I will always be grateful that I stumbled upon it (shout out to a certain individual who inspired me to start up a Twitter account). That level of constant support, it’s hard to come by in 2017.
But that’s not the same as going out for a brew with your friend and reminiscing about memories from years a go. It’s not the same as giving the gang a message and you all assembling in your local later that night. It’s not the same as an ad-hoc plan to meet people you haven’t seen in years because life got in the way.
But, how do you meet new people in real life? It’s a genuine question, because I don’t know the answer. How do people balance a social life with a job and a relationship, what’s this sorcery I’m apparently missing out on? I’m trying not to make this a woe-is-me post, but I don’t feel like I actually have many friends anymore. It’s brutal to type that out, but all my spare time seems to be spent resting at home, whether or not I actually want to be there. That’s a good thing for my chronic illnesses, but really not so good for my mental health.
I’m writing this in a rush, to hopefully vent out some feelings and make myself feel a bit better. I’m not really sure how to end. Essentially, my god, it’s 2017 people. No-one should feel lonely in this day and age. We all need to fess up that loneliness doesn’t just effect the elderly, that it can happen to young people too. And we need to talk about it, loneliness destroys lives. We should have moved past this as a social issue, we should have at least thought up a plan by now. A special shout out to The Jo Cox Foundation for trying to write that plan.
If you want to read all about it: