Response to : Lonely Millennials Are Depressed (Lyon Brave)
Lyon Brave's Lonely Millennials Are Depressed piece is a worthy presentation which deserves a full response.
And mine is :
Great heights reached?
Yes, we have reached great heights but definitely not the greatest of heights. We are become aggressive to the point of war through manipulation and self-righteous propaganda. Our arts are increasingly banal, our efforts digitized to the point where creativity depends more on apps than brains, talent, insight, vision or thinking. . . Of course the young in our societies are depressed. Too often they are set up to compete with their "things" rather than themselves.
As for knowledge, it has always been power. But much of that today is geared towards marketing and consumerism - not to elevating us to a higher plane of consciousness. And the only rationale for all of this information being passed around at greater and greater speed is the delivery process evolution : from snail mail to email to instant messaging to whatever tomorrow brings. Much like bigger is better, speed is promoted as an impossible to live without “thing”. But at what cost?
Speed is both our timeless friend and our worst enemy. Who controls it controls message content; whether 140 characters or novel length. But our capacity to think about what needs to be instantly sent and received rarely matches the urgency, the accuracy or the value of the content we initially wished to communicate. Do the messages passed instantly at lightning speed carry what we initially intended to convey? Not likely. The inaccuracies and impersonal coldness with which everything is now shared depends on a vast self created void of “who in hell is at the other end of this shit aloofness” which affects less and less a communication and more and more a “who gives a damn”, a “does this make sense” and the ever increasing element of “stranger danger” which drives our nations & divides the world’s populations ever further from each other.
As for the quality of aloneness, that should be defined via separate units of measure - units of both salvation/creative based solitudes and those of loneliness. There is a vast difference between the two. In the former, we are appreciative of being our own best friend. In the latter we find no one there to be with. Loneliness does not depend on someone else being there. It depends on us knowing we are there; that we exist as a worthy entity - a worthy of being known being. Having fewer than needed friends is a matter of “connectivity ability” - a wanting to, a being able to and an actual "connecting with" of it all. But we are so tied to our robotic apparatus we often forget the physical existence of the person sitting across from us with whom we are purportedly communicating via a latest app.
The loneliness we have come to fear is self-created.
“It makes no sense to have no friends in a world multiplying itself immeasurably?” Quantities do not guarantee quality.
The concept of friendship has changed over time. Our ability to make friends no longer matches our ability to communicate with strangers in that the connection no longer has the evolving powers which used to take us through the required learning curve steps : i.e. : from meeting, to learning to know, to knowing, to appreciating, to liking, to possibly loving. We have rid ourselves of the excessive baggage of “taking the time to discover”. We are creatures of instant gratification. And yet we still expect the assured outcomes of days gone by - outcomes of closeness; obviously wished for and once so easily achieved. But today, we discouragingly find the only thing that it is possible to find : there is no one there before us - and oftentimes not even anyone in the mirror. . .
Loneliness is only cool because we are afraid to consider it otherwise. We are the managers of our own manufacturing. As children we were taught we were special. We are not. We were taught we could do anything we want. We can’t - especially because winning an award just for being present or just for being doesn’t mean we have the abilities to “do” anything. And because these nebulous outcomes are inevitable, our "new and improved" and "must be happy" environments demand we keep our distance from any and every “physical other” around us. It seems that because we do not know someone they must be "other", "different", "dangerous?" . . . If it wasn’t for wifi, we’d not connect with each other at all.
In our societies, groups are considered legitimately “in” while others are seen to be “out”; cliques, clans, tribes, gangs and select or exclusive units abound - endlessly dividing us into those who are like and those who are not. Those who are safe and those considered dangerous.
Loneliness, despite our cravings, is a byproduct of our anxieties which now even stimulates self abuse. . .
It all began oh so many decades ago with our incessant caging of children in fenced school yards (which purportedly protected (still protects?) them from a world which promoted(s) the existence of danger like a candy vendor his chocolate bars. We cage ourselves in adolescent sub-cultures of oneness where considering others as acceptable is verboten. We classify and divide our work spaces as professions, occupations and lowly “jobs”. We cage our elders in retirement home limbos where slowly, painfully, and too often alone they await their final fate. Why do we do this to those who have come before? Because they frighten us with their “oldness”, their heavy silences, their just sitting there unseen and therefore more easily forgotten. We find their idle chatter annoying and cringe at their “other” helpful information and guidance we never took advantage of when offered so many years before. So why do we shun them and their offerings of time and wisdom? Possibly because (just maybe) within us a want and need and pleasure of physical closeness could rise? And that would enhance our incessant cringings and fears, now wouldn’t it. . .
Mental health issues, millennial and before
Yes, mental health issues are increasing. It seems they are the only outlet we will
have since at the speed of light and cold texting we are swiftly setting ourselves up for a fall. . . But then, is this an actual millennial problem? Absolutely! Each previous generation had its woes, its insecurities, its challenges. And as these are millennial times, mental health is a "new and intensified" millennial issue. And dealing with it has only one solution : growing up beyond adolescent whims and notions - and facing the world head-on. But then, that means being an adult - something millennials have not been trained for by those who should have trained them. In essence millennials, as Simon Sinek recently stated, have been given a raw deal. They were never taught that it was OK to “act their age” which simply means doing what needs doing at the time it needs doing. It’s not a cop-out. It’s actually a release from the tedium of induced lethargy, from fear and worry, from desperately clinging to illusions and embracing tomorrow as a curiosity inducing friend and not as an arch enemy. But that means reaching out beyond our safe place, beyond our feelings of being special. It means reaching out to others in order to alleviate our "lonely". AND accepting that : "It is not what has been done to us but what we do with what has been done to us which counts."
Top down loneliness?
But let’s put a hold on blaming someone at the top telling us that lonely is the feeling of being at the top. It neither comes from someone at the top nor does it come from a knowledgeable (?) peer considered a leader in his/her field. “Lonely” comes from within.
Growing up disconnected from others is both a learned mechanism and a subsequent choice made - a somewhat arrogant consideration that we are both better than "others" (as we have been raised to be) and in no need of them or any other. One on one relationships are not part and parcel of our digital age. We have been sold through marketing and rabid consumerism that being in is to be alone - and so we are. And we fear changing “what is” because we are anxious about what lies within the boundaries of the unknown. We fear chasing away the demands of perfection we place upon ourselves and which put a stop to our striving for excellence.
The cool lonely is nuts
Sadly, loneliness is not cool It is an outcome of disconnectedness, not the initial cause of our being anxious. In actual fact the result of too much aloneness and our inability to differentiate it from creative solitude is what is detrimental to our overall mental and physical health. And as such, it is difficult to eradicate because we are addicted to it (submissive to its protective benevolence) which is the gift we get from our virtual worlds pretending to “love us”.
“If we don't have a friend for at least everyday of the week. . . ?”
Let’s just start with one - another person like us who also accepts to not hold up a digital wall of protection against meeting and getting to “sensually” know each other. Making friends is not a social game. It is a mental health issue - a crucial element of thriving and survival. In essence, it’s all a matter of human determination more than it could ever be a digital prodding to push a key to yet another netherworld of virtual realities.
Basically, any and every generation wishing to take the reins of their own life requires a reaching out beyond the personal space it inhabits; reaching back to past wisdoms and forward to the new world beyond which is ours to behold and learn from and strive to be excellent in - i.e. : what lies beyond our reach should be what tantalizes us - not fear. At its most extraordinary, the unknown is our saviour. It offers us the opportunity to be the best we can be today - while knowing that our forever tomorrows will offer us opportunities to best every one of our yesterday’s bests.
Time to let go of our need for apps and being most efficient and speedy selves we can be. Time to slow down and discover that "self" that is us - Time to discover what that self has to offer and what it can receive in kind from others. Time to enrich ourselves through our own potential, our taste for connections and the wondrousness of "doing nothing but share" once in awhile. Otherwise we will be the lonely lost we fear that we are.