Lonely among us

Madame Weebles —  December 3, 2013 — 209 Comments

The holidays. For many, they’re not cloyingly sweet happyfests like on the Hallmark Channel. No, for a lot of people, ’tis the season to be lonely. Loneliness is probably as old as time itself but I suspect it’s more virulent now than in days of yore.

First, let’s get one thing straight: Being lonely is very different from being alone. You can be both, but not necessarily. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely, and you don’t have to be lonely when you’re alone.

Loneliness hurts, emotionally and physically. Several months ago, Mr. Weebles was telling me about a thread on an online forum he reads regularly. This particular thread was about doctors who work in the ER. One post was from a doctor who had a patient come into his ER at 4am with a triage complaint of “lonely.” That broke my heart—the idea of someone suffering so much that they needed to go to the ER. Were they in that much pain? Or were they desperate for someone to talk to, for any sort of companionship? Or both? I don’t know what happened to this person but I hope he or she is okay.

There have been times when I’ve felt so lonely that I thought it would crush me. Sometimes while I was living by myself, sometimes while I was living with others. I can’t decide which is worse. On the one hand, when you feel lonely and you live alone, the isolation adds to the feeling that you’re the only person left on earth. On the other hand, when you feel lonely and you live with other people, their presence only exacerbates the pain and disconnection. It sucks no matter what.

Technology has been a major contributing factor in making this modern scourge, this loneliness, so nasty. We’re competing for attention with iPods, smartphones, video games, and the internet, and we’re losing.

Admittedly, through the internet I’ve met excellent peeps I never would have known otherwise. The flip side is that although it can bring us together globally, it separates us locally. We stare at our phones instead of engaging with the humans around us (I have been very guilty of this). We play Candy Crush and send lives to our friends instead of looking people in the eyes and talking to them (again, mea culpa). Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, internet surfing, IM, texting, whatever. And how many of us have felt lost in the vast sea of statuses and comments everywhere? It feels terrible to be overlooked, and it can happen so easily when people have an unending feed of info. It’s a wild paradox, isn’t it, connecting with others and being completely disconnected at the same time.

Here’s another downside of the internet. It’s VIRTUAL. It’s as real as it can be under the constraints of the various platforms, but it’s not real life.

The virtual world gives you the luxury of portraying yourself as you want to be seen rather than as you are when you’re in the same room with someone, talking in real time. You can choose your words wisely. You can post only about the great things going on in your life (by the way, fuck you, humblebraggers), share inspirational quotes like you’re gunning for Deepak Chopra’s job, and craft beautiful bon mots that showcase your creativity and humor. They don’t tell the full story.

That’s the problem with social media. Unless you’re a witless putz or you genuinely don’t care how you’re perceived, you’re going to put your best foot forward. Anyone who has an online presence isn’t showing you the real deal, no matter how forthcoming they are. Because real life is messy and unedited. You don’t see them struggling for words and saying the wrong things, and you don’t have to experience their unpleasant moods. Take my posts, for instance—I’m generally not an ass online (shut up, I said generally). I may occasionally air my dirty laundry here, but I’m going to make sure it’s well-phrased dirty laundry, and I’m not showing you all of it. I still control what you see, even when it looks as if I’m baring a lot. Like a good strip tease.

Recently I saw a quote that said, “We shouldn’t compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels.” But that’s exactly what happens: We compare our everyday lives with those highlight reels—the happy photos, the carefully cultivated personas, the thoughtfully written posts, the pithy tweets. It’s easy to start assuming that everyone else has it better, and at some point it might make you feel kind of shitty. And lonely. It’s not that misery loves company; it’s that nobody wants to feel like the only one not invited to the party where everything is amazing. We want to know that we’re not the only ones, that we’re understood and acknowledged.

As I said, the internet has served me extremely well overall. I’ve found so much wonderfulness in the friends I’ve made online, many of whom have become closer to me than people I’ve known for ages in real life. But technology facilitates feelings of rejection and neglect in a way that wasn’t possible before we were all connected by—and to—so many devices. So surf carefully, look around you occasionally, and take everything with a few grains of fleur de sel.

This has been a public service message from the Weebles Wellness Committee. Because Madame Weebles cares and doesn’t want you to wind up in the ER.

209 responses to Lonely among us

  1. 

    You write gooder than just about anyone.

    The promise of new technology was that it would set us free to reconnect with our physical selves. It sure hasn’t turn out that way. I’m old enough to remember the world pre-internet. It’s almost unimaginable now. The internet has had the greatest impact on humanity since the invention of the automobile.

    When I first got to NYC at 20 years old I didn’t know a soul. For about eight months I felt a crippling, crushing loneliness. I didn’t think I was going to make it. Then something inside me snapped. It’s like a fever broke. I’ve not felt lonely since. New York taught me how to be with just myself. It’s a most useful life skill.

    • 

      Why thank you, sir. I’m an only child so I’m very happy with my own company, but I understand what you mean. I’ve heard similar stories from other people, the loneliness of not knowing anyone when they first moved here. Technology is great, but it has limitations, just like anything else. Mr. Weebles and I talk about how we can’t believe we got through so many years without the internet. I mean, we went through high school and college without it. That seems incredible to me now.

      • 

        If you can learn to be happy with your own company, you’ve won the game of life. That’s not to say you’re distant or shut off from the rest of humanity, but to not have the unrelenting need, need, need to have someone else around all the time is a great gift. My pal, Charles Bukowski, had this to say about loneliness:

        Oh Yes

        there are worse things than
        being alone
        but it often takes decades
        to realize this
        and most often
        when you do
        it’s too late
        and there’s nothing worse
        than
        too late.

        It would probably do me well to distance myself from the internet a bit, but that’s something I’ll have to address later. Perhaps a New Years resolution in the making.

    • 

      Your last paragraph describes perfectly what happened to me, Exile. I was completely alone out west, 3000 miles away from my family. I even went several weeks without uttering a single word to any other soul. The loneliness was the worst feeling I had ever felt in my life. But I survived it. It was like I reached a turning point and now I rarely feel lonely.

      • 

        I think the internet and social media will prevent kids from going through that baptism of fire that you and I enjoyed. They’ll never develop that muscle. They’ll never experience those wonderful moments of complete isolation that morph from desperation to liberation.

        • 

          So true! And that last line of yours? You summed up exactly what I went through. Out of complete isolation, crushing fear and loneliness I survived stronger than ever before. And freer. Because I know I can withstand pretty much anything in life. I rely on myself and I enjoy being alone now. I’m much more spiritual too (but that’s another long story)

          • 

            And finally…I was having a book inscribed by Nick Hornby and we were discussing the isolation inherent in the book promotion tour he was on. He inscribed my book thus:

            “You’re never alone with a good book.”

      • 

        That must have been brutal, Darla. Loneliness and geographic isolation together. That’s a good, if unpleasant, way to become comfortable with just your own presence, that’s for sure.

  2. 

    Spot on, again. Alone doesn’t equal lonely. Sad about the guy in the ER. I mask most of my demons with poetry. If it isn’t poetry, it is loosely veiled fiction. Yay. Your phrase fuck you humblebraggers is awesome.

    • 

      I hate humblebraggers. If you have something to say, just fucking say it. Don’t mask it in the context of a complaint or false humility. I like being alone, very much, but sometimes the internet makes me feel Alone with a capital A. Poetry is an excellent way to cope with demons, and you do poetry so well.

    • 

      Odd, I pictured the ER visitor as a woman. You pictured them a man.

      • 

        It’s interesting, how some assumed it was a man, while others assumed it was a woman. The original comment from the doctor who wrote about this patient didn’t specify which it was, but I imagined a woman as well, Kathleen.

        • 

          Weebs, Is there an email address for you (that I cant find on your site) that you might be willing to share with me? You know, email me so I can reply? Hmm? <3

  3. 

    Fab post as always Weebs! I have quite conflicting opinions about all of this stuff, as I gess we all do. One of my friends posted a photo on Facebook a few days ago, saying something about how our modern gadgets have ruined the art of conversation, not like the old days, and then the photo was of a crowded train, taken many years ago, and everyone had their face buried in a newspaper! So I think we need to sometimes take off those rose-tinted glasses when we look at the past.

    A few years ago I saw a presentation at a conference about the Second Life virtual world and they were showing examples of some of the people who use it. One of them kills me every time I think about it, I’m typing through tears already here! It was a young boy who was completely paralised from the neck down, the only way he was able to use his computer was through a blow tune. He spent a large part of his day on Second Life, and the avatar he had created for himself on there was this incredibly powerful superhero. Is that wrong that he had this escapism that was completely unreal? Did it make his real life seem more isolated, lonely, hopeless as a result? Or was it wonderful that he could have that opportunity?

    I could write a lot more about this whole subject, but I’ll let someone else get a word in…

  4. 

    Weebs,
    You’ve written the preface to social media and the holidays here. This is in the running for best post of the year. See you on the front page.
    Red

  5. 

    That’s good advice, Weebles. I for one feel that my best foot forward sucks epic balls. Competition for attention seems to be what it is, and no one is really blameless in that pursuit. This is all a bit of a game, but at least there are good relationships that form, and for friends I am thankful. I have no aspirations of greatness hereabouts; but I like being here, and I like the people I meet, and while I don’t understand everything and everyone, there are worse places I could be. Possibly blogging is a road out of loneliness. Possibly it’s a road directly into loneliness. I dunno. Humble writers who suck ass still need to write I guess; call it a calling, put a bow on it, drink something strong, dance naked, sing dreadfully, fuck heartily, try to do all the above simultaneously. The writer in me hates adverbs. But I will blog the hell out of them all day long.

    My blog is one big lie, and so is my blogging personality. I admit that freely. But I don’t know that I feel all that badly about it, now that I think about the topic.

  6. 

    I recently saw a quote similar to the quote you saw which stated, “don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone elses chapter 20.” Unless they are being literal, I like your version better.

  7. 

    Well put, Madame Weebles. And I love the quote about the highlight reels.

  8. 

    My greatest pain is being called a phony . . .
    Maybe I’m starting to believe my own bullshit? . . .

    One thing I DO know though . . .
    If you want to NOT be lonely get a dog. I have four of them . . .
    I built them a nice straw bale house big enough for all of us . . . that was pretty smart I thought.

    • 

      Animals are fantastic for companionship, JJ. We have three cats, and while they don’t provide the same sort of company that dogs do, they’re soothing and entertaining and loving in their own little ways. When I was single, my cat Pickles was my little roommate, and she was the best friend and companion I could ever hope for.

      And basically, we could all be accused of being phony online, but I believe that you’re basically yourself online, if your genuine beliefs, personality, are in there, then it’s all good.

  9. 

    Being lonely around other people is worse to me than being lonely while you’re alone. You just want someone to be able to see that you’re lonely and to say hello or smile at you, and when it doesn’t happen, it sucks. That’s part of the great thing about a good spouse and kids. I can feel lonely all day at work sometimes, even though I’m surrounded by people, but the thought of picking the boys up from daycare later makes it bearable, if that makes any fucking sense.

    • 

      It makes perfect fucking sense, Don. It’s a terrible feeling, wanting to bridge that chasm, wanting SOMEONE to acknowledge your existence. Spouses and kids are great for keeping connected, but I truly feel for people who don’t have a support system, family, friends, whatever.

      • 

        I hear ya, sister. That’s partly why so many homeless folks congregate together. If you talk to them, many will tell you that the weather is easy to deal with and they’re generally able to find enough food to scrape by, but it’s the loneliness that drives them bonkers. Great post, by the way.

        • 

          Thank you! I can’t possibly imagine what it’s like for homeless people, who probably don’t get to talk to many people regularly. Talk about aching for a human connection. That would drive me bonkers too, under circumstances much less dire than what they face every day.

      • 

        one time I spent a whole winter in Alaska basically alone in a tiny camper with a great big dog. I went down to Anchorage for supplies once and then to a mall . . . I rarely every feel lonely, but sitting there watching all those people really freaked me out with loneliness.

  10. 

    Madame Weebs –

    Great post! I’m sure this will resonate with a lot of people, myself included. For me, my feeling of loneliness intensifies when there are other people around. I’ve got a houseful most days – husband, two kids, two cats; so I am very rarely alone. But when I can’t manage to emotionally connect with any of them (which has been happening a lot lately), I feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I think because they are RIGHT THERE, but it feels like an ocean divides us and I can’t manage to find a way to bridge the gap.

    I wonder what ER guy’s story was – what was the final push that made him walk through those hospital doors? Was he like me, surrounded by people but unable to connect? Or had he gone days and days without talking to anyone, and just needed someone, ANYONE, to hear him? They say people need human contact, otherwise we either go crazy, or whither away and die – we are social beings by nature. If you look at it that way, then lonely guy walking into the ER makes perfect sense – he was trying to save his own life. I hope he succeeded…..

    Linda

    • 

      Me too, Linda, I can’t imagine how it feels to be so lonely that you end up in the ER and that’s how your medical complaint is logged in triage. Lonely. Wanting to be heard by *someone*.

      I agree, Feeling lonely because you feel emotionally estranged from the people you live with–it’s awful, isn’t it? You’re only a few feet away and yet it feels so distant.

  11. 

    I’ve read many an article about social media’s impact on empathy–meaning people have less of it. It’s far easier to dismiss someone’s pain when you see it through a screen than face-to-face. I’m just beyond thankful that this didn’t exist when I was a young lass because fuck, you know?

    • 

      Right??? I was already an angsty mess back in the day, the internet would have made it a zillion times worse. I fear for when I’m in an old lady in The Home, and the caregivers are these very same people who have less empathy overall because they’ve been numbed by overload.

  12. 

    See my reply to her above. You, my friend, are one of the few who lives very authentically online. I try to live authentically online, and I succeed for the most part, but I have a tendency to let a lot of things really get to me if I’m on the Internet for too long. I too have the power to turn it off, and I often do. But I have to be mindful of the tendency to get lose myself online. Having said that, as I wrote, I’ve made genuine friends here. I told Mr. Weebles just last night that they’re better, more constant friends than some people I’ve known for years and years. Like I said, it’s a double-edged sword. I’ve forged amazing friendships, I’ve connected to people all over the world, I’ve built my whole life largely through the connections I’ve made via technology. My real life and virtual life are blurred together. But I’m often reminded that it’s very very easy–for me and many other people I know–to tilt over from the weight of it all, not keeping sight of true human connection vs perceived connections.

  13. 

    You nailed this post, Weebs. You articulated what so many of us feel about technology. There are so many good and bad things about it. It connects me with people like you that otherwise I’d never have the pleasure of knowing in life. But we have never sat down to have a cup of coffee and really BE in each other’s presence (yet!).

    Without a doubt being lonely is a horrible, crushing feeling. I’ve felt it before in my early 20s and it was so overwhelming and all-consuming. I really did have nobody in my life at all to even talk to. (and my dad had just died). I think loneliness is seeping into our culture in general because we’re relying on the internet too much. Like you said, we only expose a tiny slice of who we are, we’re all these “personas”, not real people who have shitty days and a dark side from time to time. It’s almost like this façade we put up is creating a thicker wall, not letting people in.

    All that being said, I need long breaks from social media. I personally can’t stand twitter and facebook. I barely can manage to blog now. It’s very tempting to just close up shop forever and get back to my “real life” but I’d miss people like you too much.

    • 

      What you said here: “I think loneliness is seeping into our culture in general because we’re relying on the internet too much. Like you said, we only expose a tiny slice of who we are, we’re all these “personas”, not real people who have shitty days and a dark side from time to time. It’s almost like this façade we put up is creating a thicker wall, not letting people in.” Totally with you here. We can share the shitty days and the dark sides of ourselves online, and via email, but it’s not truly the same as sitting next to someone on a couch and sobbing your guts out, or venting to someone over coffee.

      You can’t get rid of me that easily, by the way. Even if you closed up shop, which I hope you never ever ever ever do, I’m going to haunt your email. And your house.

  14. 

    This — “We shouldn’t compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels” — really gets at so many issues, doesn’t it? It applies to social media, all of those models and celebs in the magazines, and, most importantly now that its the holidays, how food looks in those cooking magazines (how the f*ck are those plates always so neat and clean?!).

    • 

      Fuck if I know. My dishes always look like the food has been plated and presented by 3-year-olds. And you’re right, that quote does apply to all social media, and all media in general for that matter.

  15. 

    Well said, dear lady who mostly lives inside my computer… i have been presented with an opportunity to live in a large city in Asia for a couple years. Suspect that without internet/connectivity to my ‘known’ world, i wouldn’t even be considering it.

    I’ve recently wondered if we need to start teaching ‘healthy use of social media’ in the schools — what is real, what isn’t, and how to balance these things. we are raising a generation of humans who don’t know life without it. When i see people walking down the street, looking at their phones, i am reminded of the drone robots from Wall-E. i’m guilty as well, but have made a conscious effort to put down my phone when in public – smile at cahsiers, ask how they are doing. be more kind to servers in restaurants. always let ‘flesh’ people over-ride the virtual. i can catch up with them later… when i’m alone! :-D

    • 

      Hello, dear lady who lives mostly inside my computer as well. I do the same thing nowadays, making a concerted effort to create some sort of connection with actual human beings in public. Chatting with people at deli counters, waiting on line (because New Yorkers wait on line, not in line), looking people in the eye (which seems to be a dying practice these days), smiling at cashiers etc. It does make a difference. I’m not ordinarily someone who engages at all with strangers, but it helps a lot.

  16. 

    Great post my friend.

    I can get very lonely – very quickly and I can get depressed very easily. It’s a sucky way to live. That’s one of the things I like about my site and twitter and shit (but I HATE facebook) – I have someone to talk to.

    • 

      I feel you, bro. I share the same affliction. And oddly, as easily as I can get lonely, I also really like being alone a lot of the time. It comes from being an only child, I guess. But the difference between alone and lonely is a big one. Also, expect a reply to your email today!

  17. 

    Reblogged this on On the Homefront and commented:
    This is Madame Weebles telling the other side of Christmas–the one some of us have recognized in the past or are going through today–I think her words are truer than true………………

  18. 

    Funny – I wonder if I would have met so many people in my life if we had all been on our phones. Probably, because I do annoying things like pretend to text on other people’s phones if they look interesting, or just to see if they attempt to punch me. But back in the day when I had actual “time” to be social IRL it might have been pretty different.

    Interesting that this post came out — wait, was written — around the same time as the news that Americans don’t trust each other, or anyone, nearly as much as they used to. I saw a couple of surveys on the news over the past few days. I bet social media has something to do with that also, or the lack of human interaction on basic levels. Trust is the antidote to loneliness, the ability to open yourself up to others, and visa versa.

    BTW the DUMBEST ever is text/twitter/fb-fighting. Not related to this post exactly, but just another ridiculous thing about not having human interaction. Fight in person, dammit! (Topic in my house this week.)

    • 

      And just think, you and I know each other from lonnnnnng before the interwebs. In real life and everything. Shit, we’re getting old. That’s interesting and sad, the news about how we don’t trust each other. I sure as hell don’t trust a lot of people. Trust can be an antidote to loneliness, but only if there’s someone around to trust, to openly receive what you have to share. And even then, sometimes stuff just misfires and you can feel lonely and unheard through no fault of anyone’s.

      So maybe sometime we’ll actually meet again in real life?

  19. 

    Very well said. The ER part broke my heart too. I think Christmastime emphasizes loneliness because it’s easy to track time on Christmas as we get older and to remember what it once was and/or the people who spent it with us that have passed on. Also, we rarely live up to what Christmas is “supposed to be” according to media, and this can cause loneliness. It does for me, anyway.

    • 

      Me too. And Christmas isn’t the same when you get older, it doesn’t have the fun and excitement that it did when we were kids. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have had good Christmas experiences growing up. But as an adult, it feels more like obligations, responsibilities, and forced “merriment.” And wistfulness about what once was, or what could/should be, or some shit like that.

  20. 

    “I may occasionally air my dirty laundry here, but I’m going to make sure it’s well-phrased dirty laundry,…”

    You might justifiably stretch that to elegantly-phrased dirty laundry, Madame. An excellent post on a terrifying topic, and I believe I’ll put a Facebook link to it so all the friends I never actually talk to can have a look and be enriched.

    I worry that the poor ER seeker was in a state the depressive sometimes touches upon– lonely in a room filled with loving friends.

    • 

      Elegantly phrased! You just made my day, sir. Thank you! And thank you for sharing this post, much obliged. Loneliness is a terrifying topic, I see people in hospital waiting rooms who are clearly on their own, and I think, That could so easily be me. Or any of us, really. Depression is absolutely one of those things that make a person feel lonely in a room full of loving people, I’ve been there myself. If the ER patient was depressed, I certainly hope he got help for it. Nobody should suffer alone, and especially not with depression.

  21. 

    A very insightful post, Madame Weebles. The holidays always bring up loneliness for me. Your views are spot-on. Excellent job, as always.

  22. 
    Fish Out of Water December 3, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I wish I could be more wordy, because this was good stuff. Loved it. Love you, love it.

  23. 

    Great post, Madame! I’m solitary by nature, so I rarely feel lonely. And I love interacting with cool folks like yourself via the internet – it satisfies my (admittedly minimal) need for human contact other than Hubby. The problem is, it’s easy to make online contact and it’s time-consuming and frequently inconvenient to interact with human beings face-to-face. Then Christmas rolls around and it’s time to indulge in my favourite pastime of feeding large groups of people until they beg for mercy. That’s when I realize my “warm-body” social circle is dwindling because I’ve been too damn lazy to go out and make friends. Good to get a virtual kick in the butt every now and then… thanks for that.

    • 

      I am also fairly solitary quite often, Diane. I lived alone for many years, and I’ve never really had a problem being by myself. Sometimes, though, I feel a need for human connection that you just can’t get on the interwebs. But like you, I’m too am lazy, I don’t necessarily go and seek it out, because as you said, it’s time consuming and frequently inconvenient. So basically I’m cheating myself. So I’m glad I gave you and me a virtual kick in the butt.

  24. 

    Hi J, I hope I’m welcome here but whatever the case, I just wanted to tell you — this post was just perfect. Spot on. Many feel lonely this time of year especially. There’s some kind of pressure to have the perfect holiday and most of us don’t. And many are alone on holidays when that pressure is on. That guy in the E.R. — that’s just heartbreaking. Great post and I hope you and yours are having a great holiday season.

    • 

      Dear B, why wouldn’t you be welcome here?? I know I’ve been really fucking awful about visiting your blog, truthfully, I’ve been awful about visiting most blogs. So please do not take it personally. Honest. Isn’t the story of the guy in the ER a tearjerker? Mr. Weebs told me about it back in August, and I’ve been thinking about it since then. The holidays make a lot of people feel lonely, the expectations and pressure, it’s a lot. And as you say, if you’re alone, it makes the pressure that much more unbearable. That being said, I hope you and yours have a great holiday as well, lady.

  25. 

    I felt lonely this Thanksgiving. It was really my first experience feeling that way (and I’m 46). I even blogged about it, because I try hard to let my online persona be my real persona. Although of course you’re right, it’s still the edited/selective version.
    We moved far away from everything that was comfortable and familiar a year and a half ago- it was something I wanted very much, but now I’m dealing with the accompanying loneliness. It was sort of a delayed reaction- it’s only started to bother me recently.
    And yeah, social media made it worse- seeing all the pictures of people celebrating with loved ones made me feel more lonely, realize what I had given up. I’m still blessed- I was with my husband and three of my four kids. The loneliness I felt made me think about the truly lonely- people who had no one to celebrate with. The holidays definitely have a dark side.

    • 

      Hiya Miriam. I feel your pain, sis. I’m almost 46 and it’s only been over the past few years that I look much less forward to the holidays. I know about the loneliness that happens after you relocate, even if it’s a positive change overall. It does take time, and I think social media can either help your adjustment or make you feel worse, depending on your circumstances. We are very fortunate to have friends and families, and when you see people who truly are alone, it does put things in perspective. I feel pretty good when I think about it that way. But everything is relative, and just because you aren’t homeless and alone doesn’t mean you can’t still be lonely. I’ll be thinking of you this season–here’s hoping you cruise through the holidays with a minimum of Dark.

  26. 

    Often, I feel like a hockey player that has taken a few too many pucks to the face. Sometimes, I’m convinced I look like it, too. In a quasi-Luddite manner, I seek out those real-life relationships to this day but the well seems dry. The present day social culture has literally left me to wander streets like a bad film noir. I did that last Saturday night, actually. I’m beyond a John Cusack film in romance. At least he has a woman to pine for, and gets her in the end. This ain’t Hollywood, kiddo.

    I write what part of me considers bitching, but another part of me figures “oh well, what the Hell”? After all, existential abandonment and physical, chronic isolation is a recipe for being bulletproof and not in a very heroic, glamorous, healthy way either. It also has the ability to leave your Christmas tree half decorated. It’s a small side effect.

    I think the trite, penny advice people flip out to you like a handiwipe is what hurts the most, especially the ones that think you’re 100% to blame for all of this. I take my lumps, but unless I’m the last man on the face of the planet, it will never be 100% my fault. Society is fundamentally more than one person. I will never believe I’m too selfish to ask for one person that works well with my personality. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Dr. Phil!

    • 

      Sir Corvidae, I have seen your Gravatar photo and you do not look at all like someone who has taken some pucks to the head. Not at all. But I know that life isn’t easy for quasi-Luddites these days, so I understand and sympathize mightily. I isolated myself for a long time, and although it does render you somewhat bulletproof, it doesn’t render you immune to the pain or loneliness.

      People who try to put the blame on you for not having found someone yet are imbeciles, and you can tell them I said they should fuck themselves. It isn’t your fault, you are not to blame for wanting not to settle for someone or something that isn’t the right fit. People used to say the same thing to me. You’re too picky, you need to get out more, you need to do this, you shouldn’t do that. Fuck it, it’s your life and you know what you want. Dr. Phil can suck it.

      And I have confidence that you will find a lady bird to feather your nest. That’s not a naughty euphemism, just a bird euphemism, you know, for corvidae. But what the fuck, you can take the euphemism however you want.

  27. 

    Mdm,
    I love that quote: “We shouldn’t compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels.” There is nothing more true and more accurate. I am always guilty of getting down on myself for “failing” at everything that everyone else seems to do so effortlessly. It’s depressing and exhausting. Interestingly, I used to blog on a different blog, for people whom I know, and I worked so hard to be happy and shiny and make sure people knew I was succeeding at everything. That blog didn’t last long because I got sick of writing it. And, honestly, the only people who read it were people who clicked on the links from my facebook page. LIfe was harder more often than it was successful and that made for boring blogging. At least now I can bear more skin and get more out of blogging. It is relieving to talk about my struggles and it is reassuring to know that other people have the same level of distress. As you said, however, it is still impossible to say every true part of your being.
    Thanks for the post!

    • 

      That would be exhausting, writing a blog and trying to maintain a happy, sunny, everything-is-groovy vibe. Fuck that. I too find it comforting to learn that other people go through the same stuff, the same issues. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in certain things, and that makes me feel less lonely, during those times when I do feel lonely. Thanks for stopping by, Cranky!

  28. 

    I love and loathe the internet for the same reasons stated above. I too have met people I adore (THAT’S YOU WEEBS), and trolls I want to verbally punch in the eye with my EXTRA HARD TYPING.

    Another layer I just thought about…conversations are much easier to tune out online. For example, I usually just scroll through the comment sections to the bottom, so I can say what I have to say. That’s not a dialogue. In real life, it’s harder to tune out other people, for better or for worse. Our words and thoughts intertwine, disperse, collide in a way that is just different than the compartmentalized conversations we have here. Interesting…I’m still mulling this one over. Thought provoking post, lady face. I love your brain and your balls.

    • 

      I didn’t think about the ability to tune out online conversations either, but you’re right. You can scroll up or down and pick and choose, but you’re not really engaging in a whole conversation that way. Virtual life is more fragmented and compartmentalized, as you say. You can pick out the bits you’re interested in and ignore the rest, but in real life it’s not that easy to check out for parts of the dialog (sometimes regrettably, depending on who you’re talking to). Plus, you can’t see facial expressions, vocal intonations, hand gestures (although I think you can imagine what most of my hand gestures would look like), things that help you understand what the other person means. Words on a screen often lose something in translation, and then it’s all fun and games until it ends in tears.

      But the upside is knowing you and your jaunty girly bits, and I love you to pieces. But not literally, because that would be kind of icky and messy.

  29. 

    This post is so right on! I find that “writers” are often lonely. We spend so much time in front of a screen, secluded and busy with our words. I know I have become less social since I started blogging in March. It’s kind of scary. I have to make a stronger effort to put my computer down and to interact more. Glad I’m not “alone” in the loneliness feeling. :)

    • 

      You are not alone, which hopefully will make you feel less lonely, brickhouse. Blogging and other endeavors that involve being online for hours at a time–they do force you to be cognizant of how and where you spend your time, and you have to force yourself to shut off and go outside. It’s a good thing, ultimately, but it’s a always a little jarring when I realize, “Holy shit, it’s been 3 days and except for my husband, I haven’t spoken to another human being.”

  30. 

    Wonderful post. I think you’ve captured the essence of the online world perfectly, as well as how it affects those who live it, both in their online worlds and their real ones. As someone who’s always kept to herself (other than at work), I haven’t noticed this loss of real-life interaction as acutely as others. I have to force myself to get out there, make eye contact, and connect with others just as much as I ever have. But I try not to use my phone when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in a restaurant or whatever. Not only because leaving the phone in my purse forces me to connect with the world around me, but also because it makes me look like less of a self-absorbed ass. Hopefully.

    • 

      That’s the good thing about introversion, Carrie, you don’t have as much of a transition from real life to virtual life, and vice versa! You don’t strike me as someone who would look like a self-absorbed ass looking at your phone. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?? I saw a guy while I was waiting for the cashier at a grocery store last week–he was talking on one cell phone while scrolling through another cell phone in his other hand. Now THAT’S a self-absorbed ass. I wanted to beat him senseless.

  31. 

    I hate the internet for eating my comment, just then. I so feel you on this issue. It’s human nature to put our best selves out on display and the internet is the perfect tool for that. That being said, I think the internet has allowed me to express myself more fully than I would otherwise. In real life I would probably stay silent about my opinions because I don’t want to trip over words and people don’t really give you time to sound things out. And of course the wonderful result of that is that I have found people who I share interests with that I would never have found in real life. The overwhelming majority of my facebook friends are people I have never met in real life, but who I go to about all kinds of things that I would never otherwise open up about. It is hard not to compare my life to others when the doubt creeps in, but I think it’s an important lesson, internet or not.
    I love you, Weebs. I do. And whatever down side the internet has, one of the best things that has happened on it is finding you.

    • 

      You already know you made me sob with that last line. Fuck you, girlie. Also, thank you. You were one of the people I had in mind when I wrote about the people who have become closer to me than people I’ve known in person for years. You are wise and kind and funny, and you always warn me about disturbing beehive images, and I love you for all those things and more.

  32. 

    We’d just moved to Colorado, and I sent my uncle a Christmas card with our new phone number written inside to let him know we’d love to visit him, asking him to please call us, as I didn’t have a current number for him. He never called. Just after Christmas the county coroner’s office called me because they found the card beside him on the sofa. “There was no one else to call,” they said. We drove to his house. It was a heartbreaking scene. He was a lonely man, my favorite uncle when I was a child. He had moved far away, become estranged from the family. They said it was a heart attack. I think it was loneliness.

    Such a great post, Madame. Such a great, great post.

    • 

      Oh.My.Lord. That is one of the saddest things I’ve heard in a while, Honie. That poor man. You may be right about the loneliness being what killed him; there have been studies that have proven that heartbreak and other extreme emotional stress really can cause fatal heart attacks. Your story about your uncle will be staying with me today. Also, I got your email and am replying to you very soon!

  33. 

    I was just thinking this morning about how there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely and how being lonely and/or alone with others is the worst. Your post was excellent.

  34. 

    I don’t say much Weebles, because I’m a pretty private person. I’m going to show my age and say I remember when the internet in the house was pretty new and exciting. I got my first computer and logged on. At that time Windows was barely known and you had to use dos. Yeah I’m that old. Anyway, the first thing I did was join a forum started by the owner of Kensington Books. It was a brand new thing back then. A chat room sort of thing for writers. I was hooked on the internet from that day on. I met people from all over the world and loved every minute of it. I was no longer the lonely person I was. It’s still the same for me and the internet. Some of my greatest friends I met on the internet. My husband and I met on the internet. The internet has been better to me than real life.

    I don’t think I’ve lost the ability to deal with real life, I do think I have gotten a better hold on dealing with real life because of the internet. The most loneliest time of my life was when I was married to my ex and had no internet. I’ve been super lonely at family get togethers. I’ve been lonely in crowds at a shopping mall. I’ve never been lonely all by myself. I enjoy being by myself. I think the internet has helped me grow into the person I am today. I’ve never felt lonely while on the internet, quite the opposite in fact. I think it’s all in a person’s perspective. And now I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. ;-)

    • 

      Well, since you showed me yours, I’ll show you mine, Jackie—I too am old enough to remember vividly the day I hooked up my first internet modem. 2400 bauds per minute of glorious connection to all kinds of stuff. eBay was one of my first discoveries and I’ve never looked back. Chat rooms and bulletin boards were a wonder, it was astounding to me that you could suddenly exchange messages and talk with people who lived all over the place. It was such a mind-blower.

      You touch on an interesting point about how the internet can help us deal with real life and help us grow. I hadn’t considered that, but it is definitely true for me. And I met Mr. Weebles on the internet so if that was the only thing the cyberworld did for me, it would have been plenty. I am almost never lonely by myself, it’s when I’m with other people that I feel it more acutely, especially if I’m among people I can’t relate to for whatever reason. But sometimes the onslaught of stuff on the internet can make me feel lonely too, if I’m not in a healthy frame of mind.

      And never concern yourself with the amount of time you take up here. It’s all good quality time.

      • 

        Wasn’t it amazing back then to talk to people from literally all over the world? For me it was a bit mind blowing. Now it’s amazing how people take it for granted. When I’m in a unhealthy state of mind everything makes me lonely. I’m glad I no longer get to that place much anymore. I’ve made it a practice to not go there. It takes a lot of work. I’m glad though that other people and you can write about it so we all benefit from others. As you say it’s all good quality time.

  35. 

    I never say much about my problems online because everyone is an expert. Sleep problems? Take some melatonin…no, get more exercise. Problems at work? Be thankful you have a job…no, revolt against corporate america and quit. Single? The right guy is out there for me…forget men, they all suck. I can’t take the barrage of “expertise” I get so I only confide in those I trust, and have respect for. (Although, I must say, people on WordPress have been really cool and supportive when I’ve written about my issues.)

    I do think technology comes between me and some of the other people in my life. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because of the technology itself, or if it just allows newer, more compatible people into my life therefore reducing my desire to hang out with my real life companions. I wish I could move everyone I know here that way we could ALL hang out.

    • 

      Everyone means well, bless them. I’ve written a few posts where I mention my insomnia, and I’ve been advised to use melatonin more times than I can count. I think it’s very sweet, but I also know what you mean.

      I’ve slowly come to the realization that the friends I’ve made online have just served to show me how much different—and better, and healthier—a lot of those friendships are than several of the friendships I have in real life. It made me realize that it’s time to jettison some people who are not serving me well. We need to start some sort of Blogger Commune.

  36. 

    Fuck yes. This is so true it left my fingertips tingling. Even when I post about being broken, I go to great lengths to make sure there’s a hopeful conclusion, all about what I learned and where I’m headed with my hard-won knowledge. And that’s partly because I do actually try to live life that way. But it’s also partly because I feel an obligation to leave the internet more positive than I found it, and not just make a bunch of friends on the cusp of virtual/real feel obligated to patch me up. The post about what actually happens when I’m broken would read a lot like, “AAAAAaaaarrrrrRRRRgggGGGGHHHHHh.”

    • 

      Oooh, tingly fingertips. I feel you, I too don’t want to just plop myself on the internet and say “Hey, I’m a hot mess!” If there were a greater purpose to it, to share a valuable experience or something, I would do it. Like you said, Jennie, if it has a hopeful conclusion, a lesson learned, or something else to pass along, that’s fine. Otherwise, I feel that it’s not really helpful to me, and not terribly enjoyable for anyone reading me.

  37. 

    I think you are right….you burlesque queen you… giggles. It’s hard not to compare yourself to people’s highlight reels and not get to feeling pretty crappy about your life. I have a friend who plays those online role playing games….and to me it’s a lot like living in a fantasy world, and for myself I would worry about not living enough in the real world as you have so eloquently stated. I think being lonely in the company of others is the worst…cause with people around you shouldn’t have to feel lonely and I think that compounds the hurt…(speaking from experience) not now..but in the past. :) I am not sure there is a more profound loneliness than feeling isolated in a room full of people. My wife and I play some online games at home and though we interact indirectly through the game…we are still not interacting directly..it bothers both of us so we limit it. We have taken to playing some of our favorite board games and turning off the tv. Great post.

    • 

      I’ll twirl a pastie on your behalf for this comment, Dani. I know exactly what you mean about interacting with your wife via online games, but not really interacting. Mr. Weebles and I play games on our phones whie sitting next to each other, but it’s also not the same. We should break out the Trivial Pursuit or Clue or something–that’s a good idea you have there.

  38. 

    To quote “Now, Voyager” all people are alone in some ways and some people are alone in all ways.

    • 

      Welcome, Yinzerella! I’ve never seen “Now, Voyager” although I keep meaning to because I like Bette Davis very much. That’s a very fitting quote. We’re all alone in some ways, the ones who make me the saddest are the ones who are alone in all ways. Sometimes they’re that way by choice, but not always.

  39. 

    Weebs, I love you. That’s all I really want to say. I’m on my fucking smart phone (I swore on your blog again!), so I can’t say much. It pains me to hear the ER story. Love this post!

  40. 

    I think we’re innately gregarious – we may do well as loners, but we only flourish when we’re part of a community. I sometimes wonder how far all this glorious technology (and I confess, I love it with all my heart) is going to lead us from our true nature.

    • 

      Greetings, jacksonzombie. I agree, I think humans are innately social creatures, doing best as part of a community. Historically, most humans (and other humanoid species before us) wouldn’t have survived without a community or group of some sort. I love the technology with all my heart as well, because it’s glorious and fun and so freaking useful. But yeah, it also causes us to run counter to what we’re inherently like as a species. It makes me wonder what humanity will be like in future generations.

  41. 

    Bonjour Weeblecakes. The beauty of leaving your site open is that I could ponder my thoughts a bit. The side effect is that I got distracted by sparkly stuff and more comments are added and I may repeat some of the greatness that has been said. So I will only focus on your awesome post!

    I really loved this. I’ve been talking to my sisters about this lately. I spend a lot of my time online as my entire business is online and I’m fortunate to have friends who understand my work situation more than people in my near surroundings do. For a lot of people ‘being online’ is seen as playing a character, a complete escape from real life to interact with other wandering souls. So often I get the stare from people that say “Oh you’re online a lot? What about your real work?”. Perspectives on how to be social or what is considered appropriate have changed so much over the years. People hop on board of the technology train and as much as they love how it makes everything easier in life, the mind isn’t catching up as fast as technology. I think this clashes with how lives are lived now. Personally, I’m not trying to be someone else online, my real personality is already enough for me ha. You’re very right when you say that you control what people see/read from you. My comments on posts are my real thoughts, the benefit from being online is that I can formulate it in normal sentences. What you see/read is what you get from me, but I do know what I share online. And I always choose positivity for myself (better for my mental health), you will rarely hear me rant online. You will see serious posts every now and then on my site though.

    You know, I’ve often wondered if people think I’m genuine with how I am or act. But as soon as you start to think for others, you’re lost. At least I am and the few times I was pondering this it hurt as much as it would with people who would question me in real life. So I try not to wonder and only be who I am.

    I do LOVE the edit button online! I can ramble a lot and typos annoy the heck out of me haha.

    Oh. I want fleur de sel now! It’s on my ingredients list.

    *waves*

    • 

      ps. I think I wrote the longest comment ever here…

    • 

      TJ, my little Cupcake, I never for once wondered if you were genuine. I just assumed you were, and are. Spending a lot of time online, whether for work, or for blogging, or both, brings us in contact with other people in similar circumstances, so it makes sense that your online friends and contacts would understand your situation better than people you know outside of the internet. We’re all more of a like mind that way. We get it. But it does often conflict with the world beyond the internet.

      As for being distracted by sparkly things, hey, you’re only human. I bought a sparkly necklace that I saw at an outdoor market yesterday, because SPARKLY. Now go and buy yourself a jar of fleur de sel, tout de suite!

      • 

        I really had to thank you for your wonderful reply. So Thank you and SPARKLY!! It’s just like the dog from UP. Have you seen that? He yells SQUIRREL out of the blue hehe.

        I have a big baking list! My sister will take me on a baking shopping spree for my birthday. I.am.SO.EXCITED! I will probably faint when I’m in the cooking supply aisle, but I think some fleur de sel will pick me up. hehe

        *waves*

        • 

          Oooh, baking shopping spree…have you gone yet? And if so, what did you buy? I MUST KNOW. Also, I have a recipe for chocolate cookies with fleur de sel that is UNBELIEVABLE. I will share if you want!

          • 

            Ah no. Not yet! Work kept butting in and even prevented me to write a proper “what to get” list. I’m looking forward to it though and I’ll let you know what I’ll get. I can already tell you that I’ll get cupcake trays. I threw mine away (ulitimate horror) and I only have the mini cupcake tray left. Let me tell you, mini cupcakes are adorable, but NOT enough!

            And YES! I’d loooove to have the recipe! I’m already excited here haha.

  42. 

    Weebs, sorry I’m late again. Lots of shit going on here, but for a change, most of it good. I completely agree with your message here. However, and you know me – I could care fuck one what people think about what I put on social media. Maybe more of us need to adopt that… I don’t know.

    Also this: “Unless you’re a witless putz…” — LOL I know who you were thinking about when you wrote that. The fucking ‘tard.

    • 

      No apologies, I’m just glad you have good stuff going on for a change. It’s about fucking time. I know you couldn’t give a shit less how people perceive you, it’s one of the things I like about you and your blog. As for the witless putzes out there, yes, he’s one of them, but there are so, so many others………

  43. 

    I suffer from crippling loneliness sometimes. Although I have lots of great real life friends, online friends and an awesome cat and family who love me. I actually understood when you mentioned the person coming in to the ER with ‘loneliness’

    This post kind of made me feel a bit sad. But it was beautifully written and probably just resonated a bit too much.

    I feel I can sometimes be too open and honest on social media as well as in real life and constantly have people asking if I’m OK because they have noticed my comments, status updates or Tweets.

  44. 

    Beautifully stated Madame.

  45. 

    You’ve stated very well why I’m not a regular blogger. I can’t maintain the game to an audience I don’t see or feel. Sometimes real life seems more private compared to the internet.For me, the internet is all frosting. I can turn it on a page–sometimes–in writing and that’s where I’ve decided to spend the real time, the lonely time, the creative time. Again, you wrote it well.

    • 

      Thank you, Writing Waters. Everyone blogs differently, it’s not as if there’s just one right way to do it. I think anyone who writes, whether it’s a blog or something else, has to write for themselves and not an audience. Otherwise it’s not fun or satisfying. The internet really has become much less private than real life—a lot of folks seem to have much fewer qualms about throwing their True Confessions out there from behind a keyboard. I prefer to be a bit more discreet, but whatever floats people’s boats, you know?

  46. 

    Lovely thoughts and kindly said. I like social media and as an introvert like the interaction “fix” I can get from it. But there are many times where I am overwhelmed by my FB feed: it can often feel like a insider’s party where I am trying to comment to be noticed. I often just pull the plug then and regroup so that I get back to what I value. It does take time to build up online relationships, but it shouldn’t be work to maintain them.

    • 

      It does feel like an insider’s party quite often, doesn’t it, Tasty T. I get overwhelmed by it too; I suddenly get time-warped back to the way I felt in junior high school, watching all the cool kids interact and standing on the sidelines hoping to be noticed one or twice. Relationships, online and otherwise, do take time to develop, but I agree that to maintain them shouldn’t require exhausting or overwhelming effort.

  47. 

    Feel for the person wandering into hospital for a spot of company. There is a big issue here in the UK over the elderly being lonely. I pop into my neighbour’s for a cup of tea and a natter once a week. Horrible tea and the biscuits are stale but she loves the company. We should all find a few minutes for people it does us good to!

  48. 

    Great piece Mdm. I love my interactions on social media to be able to connect with people but I also see the awful consequence on others – which results in their phone being dropped into a pint of beer when they try and tap away on their phones when meeting me in the pub.

    I can truthfully say I am myself online (apart from the fake name and the fingernail that isn’t even mine) but the rest of my opinions and ramblings are the same as I am in person, that’s why I get a lot of blank looks from friends – what works on a blog page doesn’t always carry in the pub.

    Many people are actually worse online, when I see awful hateful comments on forums I can’t believe these people have those opinions so publically in real life, a bitter twisted side can be unleashed in the anoniminity of the virtual world.

    • 

      Wait, that’s not your fingernail?? I feel so misled.

      I’m pretty much the same online as in real life, in terms of my opinions and general demeanor/attitude. Some stuff that works on the blogs doesn’t work in real life and vice versa–it’s all about the forum and your audience.

      I’ve been thinking about writing a post on what you mentioned about people being hateful online. For the most part, I suspect these people wouldn’t dare spew such things publicly in real life. They may think them, but they’d never actually come out with them as readily and as eagerly as they do online. It’s really a very interesting psychological and sociological phenomenon, innit?

      • 

        People harbouring a hidden desire to just be mean? I suppose it isn’t too much of a surprise, it’s probably part of human nature as witnessed over centuries.

        My work brought in a business analysist who gave us a scientific test to determine our abilities based on personality. Despite my cynicism it was spot on for everyone. She then gave us one on ones and pretty much summed up my entirely personality and thought processes. She said the test is based on much scientific research but pretty much there were only 4 personality types, we usually cross over a couple of them but have one that is more dominant. So as humans we are and always will be the same forever more, not sure if I find that illuminating or depressing.

        • 

          That’s extremely interesting. I’m not sure whether I find it illuminating or depressing either. Probably a little bit of both.

          • 

            That was a quick response, being in Thailand I must be more in tune with America’s waking hours than I usually am. it’s 12 thirty in the afternoon and I am sitting by my villa’s pool. The owners have two cats which I am happily adopting, one just came back from hunting and dropped a rodent at the paws of the other which it gobbled up in two minutes. I have never seen that from my lazy housecat!

  49. 

    There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. I often feel that I am a master of both though the loneliness comes and goes but it often comes in like a tidal wave. The solitude is ever present. I have found that social media makes both worse. I quickly abandoned Twitter shortly after it came into existence and though I have a Facebook page, I am rarely on the site. It all feels inauthentic.

    I prefer phone conversations to texting and visiting with friends to visiting their FB page. While technology and the internet have given us many wonderful things, I often feel that we have sacrificed some of our humanity in the process.

    This is another excellent post, Madame Weebles.

    • 

      I agree, and thank you, Sandy. I really enjoy my alone time, the solitude, but then there are times when, as you describe so well, the loneliness can hit like a tidal wave. I forget who it was who said something like, “We’re all together in being alone” or something like that. I’ll have to look it up. I have to admit that I’m not a phone person AT ALL, but talking to someone either on the phone or in person really does have a different vibe than emailing or texting or communicating through impersonal social media. I wonder what we’ll all be like in 20 years because of it.

  50. 

    I believe that the folks who are constantly broadcasting how happy they are, how wonderful their kids/family are, and how lucky they are, are really quite miserable.

  51. 

    Can totally relate.

  52. 

    I just found you, I’m Becki nice to meet you! Most of my “real life friends” Didn’t know shit about fuck in regards to my past. Just like I anticipated when they found out they ran for the hills. In a matter of a week after my blog started my friends list dropped in 1/2. A couple weeks later I was down to just a couple friends. I have been brutally honest in my blog. Life has been lonely since. I have had to find my on happiness and comfort within myself. I feel closer to my blogging friends.

    • 

      Hello there Becki, and welcome! I’ve been reading some of your blog and holy fuck, you have been through hell and back. I can’t believe people would abandon you simply because they’re *uncomfortable*. I don’t understand the lack of compassion. I’m so sorry, you deserve so much better, and so much more kindness and understanding than you’ve obviously been shown. That is one thing about the internet, you can find people of like mind much more easily than in real life. But that doesn’t make up for the loss and disappointment when the people around you drop out. Fuckers.

  53. 

    Having moved to a province & a city where we know no one, most of my friends are online friends, through blogging. My family all lives 2 provinces away & we only communicate on special occasions. I have been pretty honest with people even though most of my posts are humorous, I have also bared my soul about the abuse I suffered, the rape I endured, the aftereffects of all this.

    • 

      That’s the great thing about blogging, benze, there are so many kind-hearted and compassionate people here, who won’t judge, won’t dismiss, they’ll just listen and offer understanding and friendship. As much as sometimes the internet makes me feel lonely, it’s also saved me from feeling very lonely as well.

  54. 

    I struggled with loneliness most of my childhood (and throughout my 20′s). While I’m not a huge fan of all social media (FU FB!), I do wish that I had had the internet growing up as it allowed me to explore my interests and realize, “Yeah, I’m a big weirdo, but I’m not alone. There’s a ton of weirdos online!”

    • 

      I know! I often think that, about how if the internet were around when I was a kid, I would have been better off. As an only child, and as someone with not-such-common interests for someone my age. I would have felt like a weirdo among friends if the internet existed back in the day. I do enjoy the interactions on FB, but in moderation. One can only see so many photos of people’s meals, kids, and animals. Actually, I take that back: I can never see too many animal pictures.

  55. 

    I already commented, but I’ve re-read this post, and it has me in tears. This:
    “We shouldn’t compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels” -
    for me, is not just about social media. It really hit home in terms of the carefully constructed personna I present to the world in general. Because who among us wants to venture out a hot mess?
    But I think I need to, at least where my blog is concerned. I’m getting closer and closer to finding my truth. It’s been a painful year, and finding Eric, and having him urge me to write my truth, has helped immensely. And now reading this – I feel it’s a continuation of the message to “get real.”

    You’ve no idea how much this has helped me, or how much writers like you and he inspire me. For the new year, I am going to bare my soul on my blog. I think. Perhaps you’ll visit. I would be honored.
    merci beaucoup, madame

  56. 

    This is it exactly, for many of us who retreat into the virtual world you have defined both the good and the terrible so well.

  57. 

    Those who wish to be
    Must put aside the alienation
    Get on with the fascination
    The real relation
    The underlying theme

    Rush: I just had to…Plus singing it really loud at this time in the morning-it woke up the dogs, who woke up the rooster (and I definitely shouldn’t have started yelling ‘Shut UP Elvis!’ out the window cuz i think the neighbors up the hill are awake now…) I’ve felt crushing loneliness, it’s a human condition. Also when you get really sick? It’s isolating. Lonely. I found that out. My early posts were mostly me driving around, sitting in parking lots, looking at people walking in and out of stores…I couldn’t be around people because of my immune system, so I’d just sit and look at them. I love people. But god I was lonely. And sick. Bummer, dude. I bought my second ever computer and started rioting.(autocorrect-I love you) It’s the seniors that break my heart. My job is with the public, I may be the only person who talks to them all day (all week?) so I really go all out to make them feel the love. I wish I could be their friend and listen forever to stories about Nebraska and their 3rd cousin who got run over by thier own truck.

    • 

      YEAH GIRL. Nothing like a little Limelight to get things going. Being lonely sucks ass, being sick and lonely sucks ass even more. When Mr. Weebles was going through his own cancer treatment a few years ago, I’d look at the people in the waiting rooms and the chemo suites, many of whom were by themselves. That didn’t necessarily mean they were lonely, or alone, but I suspect a good number of them didn’t have a lot of supportive people in their lives. It was heartbreaking. And if you’re forced to remain isolated physicallly because of immune issues or something else, that must be pretty fucking brutal. The seniors are the ones who break my heart most too, because I think, That could be me someday, and I’d feel pretty awful, so I feel a lot of sympathy and empathy. The internet, for all its faults and foibles, has been a huge help to me, despite my tendency to get sucked into a big vortex of sad and lonely if I overdo it. What sort of work do you do, if you don’t mind my asking? Dealing with the public all day is draining, so my hat is off to you.

  58. 

    Great post and I feel the same things you do. On top of that, there’s nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into a post and then having hardly anyone read it. You post it on Facebook thinking all of your friends will jump on it but only a handful do. They’ll share pictures of their stupid dogs and cats playing with a bow, but won’t share yours. It’s the screaming in the middle of a forest with no one around. My out suddenly feel little, tiny and unimportant.

    Sigh.

    • 

      I shall be over to visit you very soon, sir. I have been very very remiss, and I do love your writing, and your writing style. “Screaming in the middle of a forest with no one around” is a very apt description of what the world of social media feels like sometimes. Attention spans are shortened, and sometimes only the uber-cute photos are Liked, only the super-interesting links are shared, only the most hilarious comments are replied to. No wonder so many of us feel so small in such a sea of stuff. I totally feel you, bro.

  59. 
    whiteladyinthehood December 6, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Wow Weebs! Excellent post! I couldn’t agree more.

    • 

      Thanks Chica B! You are another person whose blog I need to visit ASAP, I haven’t forgotten you or ignored you, I’ve just been lazy and/or too busy to get to all of the blogs I like reading. But very soon!

  60. 

    I needed to read this….thank you!

  61. 

    Hello there, Samara! Thank you very much! I do miss my fuck-laden posts, though. I’ll be back to them as soon as fucking possible. Mark my words.

    Facebook really does have a way of making people feel Less Than, doesn’t it? Fabulous photos of people having a wonderful time, trying to out-cool each other. Granted, I’ve been guilty of doing this myself, so that makes me Part of the Problem.

    I didn’t even think of New Year’s Eve at midnight. I bet that’s true, all the texting and emailing rather than phone calls. We’ve really changed as a society, haven’t we. Not necessarily for the better. But still, as you said, the internet has also been full of great things and people, and I think it’s wonderful that it helped you too. I met Mr. Weebles on the internet, so if it did nothing else for me, that was enough of a blessing right there. The wild, wacky world of the blogosphere was something I never expected but I’m so glad I found it. And I’m glad you found us!

    • 

      I found your post to be so extraordinary, I read it to Little Dude (my 10 year old). He’s Plugged In. All 4th graders are. I try to limit it, and certainly he’s not into twitter and facebook, but he adores the computer and his electronic gadgets

      After I read it to him, he was quiet a moment. Then he said, “I’ll never look at the world the same way again.”

      You and certain other amazing bloggers are having a profound impact on me. This post has inspired me to show myself more – not just on my blog, but in real life.

      And to never, ever underestimate my kid. He gets it. Thank you.

  62. 

    So true. It is easy to feel lost in all the social media – there are so many feeds to follow and reply to and comment on. It’s overwhelming – especially for new people (I’m one). Multi-tasking starts to feel like multi-failing. I like to sit with people and listen to their mouth words. I like to see their eyeballs so I can get the whole story – many times what they’re not saying is what they need us to hear the most…I’m grateful for all the people I’ve met through this virtual world. I’m holding out hope that one day I’ll get to really see them – it keeps me coming back for more…Really great post. I hope the holidays are fabulous for you and yours.

    • 

      Hi Molly, and welcome! I feel you about the multi-tasking turning into multi-failing. I feel that way often. But what resonated most was this: ” I like to see their eyeballs so I can get the whole story – many times what they’re not saying is what they need us to hear the most.” YES. It’s not as easy to read between the lines via email etc. I too am grateful for all the friends I’ve made through the virtual world and hope to meet them in person one day.

      May your holiday season be fabulous and excellent as well!

      • 

        Thank you, Madame Weebles. What a treat to hear back from you. I’m glad to know we resonate on that tidbit: wanting to hear what’s not being said. Life and people, and the people in our life – it’s all so fascinating eh? I always love reading what you write. Wishing you the very best of the holidays and beyond.

  63. 

    Weebles, such a good post for this time of year. Astute about being lonely is not the same as being along. And your very last line is good advice. Sometimes hard to stay grounded in a sea of holiday emotions.
    Jingle on, Weebs.

  64. 

    I always find it funny how some people can get so defensive when their precious cyber-space is ‘attacked’. Oh, no, but the internets connects people. It is a uniter. A bringer-er together-er. No shit, sherlock. But it is also a distraction from the stuff around. The flesh and the bones. And like you said, just gotta keep mindful about your proximate place in space and time. That’s all. There’s nothing like feeling someone’s presence. You can’t do that online; you can only feel a snippet of people online. You can’t grope them or stroke them or breathe awkwardly heavily on them. That’s no fun.

    • 

      Hello there, and welcome! Agreed, there’s nothing like an actual presence of an actual human being. In the absence of any human companionship at all, a virtual presence is better than none, but you can’t rub clumsily against them or stare at them until they’re uncomfortable. It just isn’t the same.

  65. 

    I don’t know you. Rob (Humans are Weird) with his post, sent me over here. Excellent post! This is the sort of stuff that deserves to be freshly pressed, but never will be because you are calling out the truth about us…us bloggers. Our society with all of its electronic connections has become quite disconnected. Since I retired early d/t disability, my days are spent in the lonely yet highly interactive place called WordPress and other social media. I try to be REAL on my blog, I am not anonymous. But since I published my book and promote it on my blog, I am more careful with what I have to say as not to appear unprofessional (whatever the hell that REALLY means). Image. I would be curious to know just how I am perceived, what my blog image is. The REAL me would function better on an anonymous blog, I think. Because in real life although I am kind, generous gregarious and extroverted…I have a dark side, not mean, or spooky, but laughable, a fuck up, undisciplined, and somewhat chaotic…..maybe I need to lighten up and show my dark side. :) The loneliness for me is something that waxes and wanes, I attribute it to bipolar, but I really don’t know. The loneliness may be a cause of or an effect of depression. It may just be because I am alone most of the time nowadays. Either way. It sucks.

    • 

      Welcome, my friend! I’m glad you’re here, and thank you so much for the kind words. I’m sorry you know about the loneliness too, it seems to be pretty endemic, from all the comments here. The internet can be great, but it really does create a culture of disconnection and short attention spans. It makes me worry and wonder what people will be like in 20 years when social media and electronic interaction are ingrained in all generations of people. I’m not looking forward to that. Talk about lonely.

      I know what you mean about anonymous blogging, I think I’d feel a lot freer on an anonymous blog too. Your dark side doesn’t sound like something to hide away on the blogs, though, unless you really feel more comfortable doing so. It sounds like the dark side I have, and the kind that other people I know have. So go for it if you want–what the fuck, you know?

      • 

        Thanks for the encouragement! This blogging issue is something that has weighed on my mind lately. But see, you are Madame Weebles, and she can say anything. The publishers and editors, and reader audience critics aren’t going to tell your that your conduct is unprofessional. Oh fuck them…you are right, I need to go for it, woman up and be real.

        My children are all grown, and their attention spans are slight. They flip through a hundred TV channels in one hour long sitting, and want action on every page of a book else they loose interest. My grandchildren…geez…if it doesn’t have a screen, sing, or light up and perform some nifty trick, they don’t know what to do with it. I am certain their little human brains will channel human creativity and imagination somewhere in some way, but I, like you, have no idea where we will be in another twenty years. I wonder what their image of grandmother will be in twenty years? I shall will them my blogging password.

  66. 

    So many others have said it so well, but I wanted to share that this post resonated with me so deeply. I’ve recently moved away from friends and family and all I have is social media to keep in touch. I have a tendency to feel forgotten, alone and definitely feel like everyone else has this amazing life and mine is going to hell in a hand basket. But then, yes, the paradox being I’ve made some wonderful connections through my expat blog, http://www.fromcasinostocastles.com.

    I’ve read a similar quote that says, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. Whenever I’m feeling that wave of envy as I scroll through my facebook feed, I remind myself of this. Oh and along these lines, I loved the “fuck you humblebraggers” as my feed is full of them.

    Happy New Year,
    Deanna

    • 

      Thank you so much, Deanna—my sincere apologies for taking SO long to reply to your very kind message. I like the quote you mention too, comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle. It’s a good thing to remind ourselves of, beacuse it’s so easy to compare and think that your life is bleak in comparison to others. But we have no idea how their lives *really* are behind the scenes, right?

      Peace out, sister.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Technology: Bringing us Together, or Tearing us Apart? | Humans Are Weird - December 18, 2013

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  5. A Solitary World | mlkk - October 23, 2014

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