Like many others, man is a social creature. But we spend vast amounts of our time observing other people from the sidelines while they engage in an activity we were designed to participate in. Observing from the sidelines has become an activity in itself! Just moments ago, I was scrolling aimlessly through my Facebook timeline (as you do), having lost interest in the timelines that of Instagram and Twitter. Once I grew weary of Facebook, I closed the app and moved on to the next. In less then 2 seconds of closing the app, I had instinctively reopened Facebook again. This was no accident, and it wasn’t the first occurrence either. This behavior was not indicative of poor use of time but more so a deficit in something integral to our daily active lives: social activity.
While it was true that my day had been productive, it had been inefficient. To help you understand this, I’ll provide you with a scenario that most of us are all too well familiar with: a high output of productivity with a low intake of food. I think we can all agree that no matter how busy you have been, if you do not eat a sufficient amount throughout the day, you’ll be impeding your health which in turn, impacts on your productivity. Correspondingly, social activity is food for the soul, but we are at risk of serving up a distasteful alternative.
The social apps on our phones and tablets missed out an crucial point when using the word “social” – it takes place in real-time. I have conversed with many people who admit to mindlessly scrolling through their phone no matter where they might be. Bare with me while I briefly digress: Parasites are interesting creatures. They first infect the host, whom is often unaware of its presence, and pretty much live in/on the host rent free. Some species even manipulate the brain of their host by causing them to commit suicide in water so that they can reproduce. If you think that’s shocking, I’ve seen mobile phones manipulate people into finding plug sockets (even at weddings) so they can “charge” their phone for more mindless scrolling.
How can we be at an event where we need only ‘be’ to elicit social activity, and still find ourselves craving connection via the online world?
The truth is we are lonely. Not because of our environment’s state, but because many of us are deprived of the state encourages us to rise from our newly found (online) comfort zone. We are addicted to connection and no longer familiar with interaction, because in a world where we are rewarded and validated for every action we make, it has become easier to be who we think we are as opposed to who we really are.
Being alone is a choice. Loneliness is the deprivation of a social life.