Is Technology Making Me Lonely?
Through all the social media use, meaningful connection between people can easily be lost. Voices turn into words typed out in a text or comment; yet we are still longing for connection with other people. This is evident in the numerous Facebook posts from teenagers that say, “hmu I’m bored” (hmu meaning hit me up). I see it in people who are posting frequently about what they’re doing, what’s happening to them and constantly sending out Snapchats to people whether they respond or not. These people are practically screaming for someone to talk to- to connect with.
Over time, this lack of connection becomes a strong sense of loneliness that looms over you like a cloud on a rainy day. Eventually it will roll away, but today you can’t see that future blue sky to come. I know this from personal experience. I feel like I’m always struggling to maintain meaningful connections. In a generation where most people wear headphones while walking, small talk is becoming nonexistent and phones are always at the dinner table, where do we go to find that connection and what do we do to cope?
To cope, we go to our phones. We post pictures and statuses in hopes for any type of engagement, likes, or comments on a post to spark a conversation with someone else; even if it is just words typed on a screen because anything is better than nothing when you feel completely alone.
In some people the loneliness is like the ocean tide; it comes and goes, sometimes being more noticeable and/or debilitating. In others it is the sand; it is constant yet can be moved around when people or the ocean interact with it. It should be no surprise that this can lead to mental health issues.
Most people my age know and are aware of how important it is to take care of yourself. It’s hard not to when everyone promotes self-care and shouts “treat yo self” on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media outlet. However, the sense to belong to something, or anything, leads people to cling to their phone waiting for anyone to reach out not even realizing that sometimes clinging to their phone will prohibit people talking to them.
When I use my phone I’m usually trying to respond to important emails or text people time sensitive information; I don’t want to interrupt someone on their phone because I assume that what they’re doing is important. If you’re always on your phone it might prohibit people from talking to you, making your sense of loneliness worse. Personally, it causes me to lose sleep because I’m hopeful that someone will reach out if I stay up late enough. Or I think about all the reasons I might be lonely. Did I say something wrong, rub someone the wrong way, or fail to connect? Who should I reach out to tomorrow? What should I say? Does it really matter? These questions race through my mind making sleep near impossible.
People remind us how important our sleep is, as if we hadn’t been hearing that our whole life from our parents, health teachers, and friends, but it’s hard to sleep when you are anxious, depressed, and/or lonely. So, we go on our phones searching for a connection or inspiration to dig ourselves out of the metaphorical hole we’re in, forgetting how harmful screens can be to the quality of sleep and our ability to fall asleep. Our desperation clouds our better judgement.
With the lack of sleep, it becomes harder to complete tasks, to socialize, to battle mental health issues. It’s all a huge cycle that I find so many people stuck in, including myself.
So, what do I do when I find myself feeling alone? How do I break the cycle?
I make a larger effort to reach out and text people
I Facetime my friends and family who are too far away to see in person
I am intentional in keeping my phone away when spending time with a friend
I put my phone down 1 hour before bed
I use an alarm clock that’s not my phone, so I don’t have to worry about checking to see if I set an alarm
I light a stress relief candle
I say positive affirmations every morning
I read every night before bed until my eyes get heavy (whether it’s printed out school notes, leadership books or Game of Thrones)
I journal on pen and paper if I have a lot on my mind
Disclosure: I have been one of these people as most people my age have been at one point during our life. If you’re not sure just wait for Facebook memories to show you your statuses circa 2010. You’ll probably cringe reading them, but hey that just means you’re growing, right??
Lex Be Real though… I’m not perfect and I falter at some of these things. Just last night I was scrolling on Pinterest in bed for entirely too much time and currently am praying caffeine will kick in soon.
Stay tuned and subscribe to hear more about some self-care practices and my experiences!