During this tough time of the pandemic, there is a lot of focus on mental health issues. Loneliness is one of the leading mental health issues in the world.
People often think loneliness as deliberately being alone and craving attention. They are very wrong about this and most of the so-called “educated people” don’t even know or try to understand mental health issues.
To be brutally honest, most of the people think loneliness is being alone. The major and very important difference is being alone is a choice, in which the person choosing is comfortable being alone. Loneliness is not a choice, it is an infinite loop which sucks in almost everything from the person stuck in it
So I was once caught in an argument among so-called “intellectuals.” They were arguing that loneliness is bull-crap it is just a craving for attention. Some of the sane minds were saying it is a sign that the person suffering wants to express something but is unable to convey.
The Tyler Durden to My narrator ( The reference is from fight club movie, if you have not watched it, I highly recommend you do.) John has a weird habit of texting. When I send him a message, he sees it and replies after an hour or so.
So I texted him ” Is loneliness a craving for attention or to express something?”, he saw the message, and after an hour my phone chimed. It is John, and here is how our conversation went:
John: What made you ask this question? It is a very interesting one.
Me: I’m on a bus travelling to my home town, some of the people were discussing mental health issues, and this came up. So I decided to ask your take on it.
John: Okay, as you are asking my perspective, I’m going to say it, it is neither. But I’m more inclined towards expression,
Me: Interesting! Could you elaborate more on how you said neither?
John: Sure, before I begin, I want to put it on the table that, this is the study based on my observations. I can be completely wrong, but this is the conclusion I got my observations. Let us begin by questioning the preface, Why do people feel lonely?
Me: There are multiple factors, low self-esteem, not knowing about self, not fitting in, getting stuck in the past, mental health issues and many more.
John: Good, in the above list except for mental health issues, all the other are social skills, right?
Me: Not entirely, but yes their major role lies in social skills.
John: Okay, when you feel low, you feel to share it with someone. You will prefer if someone has called you, texted you or talked to you in person. By this, you feel a bit relieved, yes?
Me: Yes, if there is a right company it feels good.
John: Why do you share? Because you feel, that person is important in your life. You feel relieved by sharing and it also restores balance conundrum you are having with the issue. Sometimes you just need a person to listen, and most importantly you might get a new perspective on the issue, right?
Me: Yes, I agree with that.
John: Okay, now imagine a person putting some sad quotes as his status on any social media. Few people might ask, few people might not. If he keeps repeating this, no one cares and bother to text them, did you feel this anytime?
Me: Yes I did and I always wonder why does this happen. I mean people will have different issues to feel sad.
John: You have just answered the question. People think they get used to sadness, I never understand this concept. How on earth can someone get used to sadness? He is squeaking that he needs someone to talk. We all know that loneliness is the leading cause for depression, but no one gives a rats ass.
Me: I agree! So this is how people get lonely? Man people should start caring.
John: This is where you are wrong my friend. Why should someone care for you? Why should they listen to you when you want to talk? In the process of evolution, we are born alone. If we need company, then we would be born with that. Yes, it’s good to talk and share, but there is no compulsion that someone should listen.
Me: I mean you are right, but if we stopped this it is not correct. Listening is the only selfless thing you can do.
John: Sorry to burst your bubble, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Nothing in this world is selfless, not a damn thing. It can be any task you do, and it’s same for all human beings. If you really care for them, you wouldn’t call it an act. You will call it to care, and care is not an act my friend.
Me: You may be right, if they stopped listening, you wouldn’t care for them either, and the world turns into a big chaos.
John: You are wrong again, why would you stop caring if someone has stopped for you? You are the same guy and is not doing business in a relationship. You should be the same, no matter what.
For example, two days ago when you were busy, I have updated status on being sad, I have got 70 views on that, but I got zero texts on asking what is wrong. But if any of them feels sad, I will be there for them.
Not because I’m selfless or something like that, that is because it is the way I’m and I really care for them no matter what. And when things become heavy, I directly talk to a few people whom I believe care for me.
This perspective of John has opened new doors of thinking for me in life. In the end to conclude, Loneliness is never a crave for attention, is a cry from for listening years. The least thing lonely people would want is attention. If you have an opportunity to listen to them, do listen. That helps them a lot.