You might be lonelier than you think

by Ein Huie

Let us take a moment and stop to think about all the people we consider our friends. There are the friends we have known since we were very young. There are the friends we got to know through middle and high school. And now we are in college and many of us have a wide array of people here that we are overjoyed to call our friends. Now consider for a moment your friends here as well as the ones you still are in contact with back where you are from. These are the people you are probably going to know for many years beyond college, or at least you hope to be close with for as long as possible. In addition to these close friends, we are also surrounded by many acquaintances who we would probably say we are closer to on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat than in real life. Why is that?

When I look through my Facebook friends list, I see over 1,300 people who I have met or talked to at some point in my life. Some of these people I know hands down that I will never see or talk to again, and yet I would still consider them my friend. It makes me feel good to see that number slowly grow month by month. But at the end of the day, whether it be the number of “friends” I have on Facebook or “followers” I have on Instagram and Snapchat, I would not consider most of them to actually be my “friends” and I for sure am not influencing anybody through what I post on Instagram and Snapchat. So why do we put so much time and effort into pursuing these online friendships?

We are all alone together. Unless you have completely cut yourself off from social media, it is safe to say that you are one of the many who falls into this generational phenomenon of communal loneliness. If you don’t believe me, then think back to the last time you were in your room (or anywhere for sake of argument) and you spent more time on your phone than you had hoped to. You went through your Instagram, then flipped through Snapchat stories, decided to check Facebook, wrote a post about how your day went and then went mindlessly through Instagram again before realizing an hour had gone by and you had accomplished nothing of significance or connected with a single person. As a defense, you will tell yourself that by watching all those stories and by reading what someone had to say about their opinions on Facebook, you connected with your friends and followers and thus built community and friendships. Although in some rare cases this may be true, this is a prime example of what it looks like to feel alone together.

After reading this article you may think that you are the only one that does this and want to change, but the idea behind being alone together includes the idea that we are all doing this. My question to you then is this; if we are all building up these habits together, then why don’t we create more memories together that we will remember? Sure, technology is good for you to stay connected with those of your friends who are off campus, but the majority of them are probably in the hall next to you or living in the house down the street. Let’s try to feel less alone together and let’s just be together. Those are the moments we will remember.

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