We have learned since birth to associate with other human beings. It has benefited us to relate to one another well enough to recognize common goals and needs. Our heritage of working cooperatively to meet the needs of the common good, underpins a general sense of connection among us. It is our nature and our strength; and in fact the success of our daily pursuits, as well as our life goals, are dependent upon our skill at advancing the value of our point of view to others. To the extent that our ideas gain acceptance, or appreciation, we have an impact on, or influence with other people.
In in a real sense, much of what we receive in life comes to us, one way or another, from other human beings. Our communities are a support system we count on to ease privation and disruption in our lives; or when we face obstacles which exceed our personal capabilities. A key aspect of that participation is the belief our thoughts will be acknowledged, considered, and valued. But we know that due to the nature of the social context of our access to, distribution and presentation of, various ideas; some proposals will receive more exposure, and consideration than others. Sometimes this is due to the relative perceived value of an idea; yet it is also true that ideas are at times judged by considerations of the one who proposed it, and not on its’ own merit.
When our influence is small, or undervalued by others, having our proposals fairly evaluated by others is often difficult. This poses a challenge to our self-esteem, self-worth, or sense of belonging. Some may feel that if other people don’t value them, there needs be a good or legitimate reason for it. This can create a sense of not being welcome in the company of others, and feeling isolated. They may avoid people, and turn their attention inward to discover, first hand, what their shortcomings are; and correct them. Should this happen, and they care about their social status, then they are vulnerable to issues of loneliness.
When there are no other people around; you are, by definition alone. However, how you feel about the absence of others can vary tremendously, depending on whom the others are, and your relationship with them. Through the course of a lifetime there will likely be many occasions when you are alone, for an endless variety of reasons. Sometimes being alone is something you may want or even cherish. When it is your decision, and you have control over the conditions of your separation from others, it is usually much less onerous. If your isolation is mandated by forces you cannot control, and under terms you did not choose or want; there is a chance you may come to feel lonely.
If your knowledge level, or cultural perspective, is sufficiently different from the other people around you; ready reference points for concept sharing, and compatibility of beliefs, are likely difficult, or nonexistent. Just as discussing electromotive force would prove challenging with a person who hasn’t experienced electricity, and who has no concept of what an electron is. The inability to share ideas with others, for the lack of a workable note of understanding, is another form of isolation which can be desperately lonely. As there is no communication, if one side of the conversation cannot understand the other.
It is also true that these feelings can have medical, or biological causes; which are not initiated, or provoked by the behavior of others. But whatever feelings of loneliness one may experience, for whatever reasons; it is likely that these sensations are not pleasant, or desired, or welcome. Grappling with loneliness can generate significant pain; especially when there seems no end to it. And although the anguish is mental instead of physical, the suffering can feel just as real and debilitating, as any physical injury. Pain is a relentless teacher; and a well-known motivator of human behavior.
Loneliness indicates separation from, or a lack of connection with others. We have not evolved that way. Humans have come to expect , and depend upon the company of other people. As the number of people in our society, and on our world increases, I suspect that will become more of a reality over time; not less. If loneliness is to be successfully combated, perhaps we should seek more effective ways to hear, and consider what we say to each other; realizing that if we wish a fair hearing, someone has to listen.
J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc