The Curse of Loneliness


Man alone feeling sad - lonely

Never have we had so much opportunity for connection and yet we are more disconnected than ever before and very interestingly, according to the American Psychiatric Association, the more social media channels we use, the more unhappy we are.

How come?

The original purpose of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg‘s intention in creating it was all about connection.

So what went wrong?

You know the saying “comparison is the killer of joy”. It seems we fall so easily into the comparison trap when the “social” in social media is completely lost. There’s no real connection with anyone, instead Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and the rest, become a platform to broadcast the life you want people to see. It’s not surprising we make comparisons!

Your news feed on Facebook nowadays might be filled with news of your friends but it depends on the latest algorithms FB is using. Instead, you probably see posts from people you don’t know and will never know. Here’s where the disconnection starts. You may “like”, “react”, “retweet” but what is this really doing for you?

In this digital age, WhatsApp, text messages and emails have replaced old fashioned phone conversations. Another opportunity for connection lost.

I believe that one of the big problems to all the social media platforms is that there’s no off switch; you keep scrolling through posts and never get to ‘the bottom of the page’. Your opportunity for connection / disconnection continues. How do you know when to stop? All that wasted time and nothing to show for it!

Books used to provide an ‘organic pause’. The end of a chapter, the bottom of the page or the end of the book, now those were structured, natural pauses and markers of time!

Television used to give us a structure. The 10 o’clock news marked the end of the day! Now we have non-stop online news and entertainment available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is no ‘end’, no closing times, no Sunday hours online.

So what’s the result of all this?

We are more disconnected than ever before and as a result, we are lonelier. The charity Campaign to End Loneliness states around 3.9 million older people view the television as their main source of company. Loneliness is an epidemic of our time and it’s affecting our health. Apparently, lonely people have a 50 per cent increased risk of early death, compared to those with good social connections. This needs to be taken seriously!

Loneliness is usually perceived as an older person’s problem but a recent study by the Mental Health Foundation found that 18- to 34-year-olds were actually likely to feel lonely more often than over-55s.

Losing connections isn’t something just for the old, just for the unemployed or just for single people either. We even lose connection to our partners.

My client spent hour upon hour on his phone, checking work emails and then replying to group chats on WhatsApp, checking in to Facebook before dinner and after his evening run. If not his phone he was glued to his computer.

He originally came to me wanting to discuss his relationships – he felt incompatible with his wife of 20-years and disconnected from his family. What soon became clear was that this was not a compatibility issue but a loss of connection.

I love this definition from Brené Brown

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 


How seen and heard are you?

Call me if anything you’ve read resonates with you.

020 8542 7907

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