Why Do We Hate To Be Alone?
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Health and Wellness

Why Do We Hate To Be Alone?

How technology has changed the way we interact.

Why Do We Hate To Be Alone?

The landscape of human interactions has changed in the past 20 years, there is no question about it. Society is more widely connected than it ever has been before — Skype brings people from different continents face-to-face. Snapchat chronicles a person’s day 10 seconds at a time. Texting makes one instantly available at any hour of the day. The list goes on and on. These conveniences and information provided by technology and social media have revolutionized the way people communicate and interact. However, many people, especially those born after 1982 (i.e., millennials), relate to social media very differently than others.

A good deal of people have a fairly casual relationship with social media. They see it as an interesting and novel technology, facilitating news updates, allowing one to easily reconnect with old friends and showcasing interesting links to previously unknown parts of the Internet. While these people enjoy social media, it is not a necessity or a burden. They can unplug whenever they want and they do not allow it to interfere with their genuine in-the-flesh social interactions.

Millennials, in general, have a very different relationship with social media. Having grown up with it, social media is a normal part of their lives, as natural as television was for Gen X. Social media is the way millennials interact with each other. Yes, 20-somethings still meet for coffee, drive out for a day at the beach or go to a party, but it is very rare that their in-the-flesh social interactions are completely separated from social media. A get-together with friends is not legitimized until it is added to a Snapstory or posted on Facebook. A fabulous dinner out has no real significance until a picture of the entrée is put through a filter and the posted on Instagram. Even romance is ensnared by technology. How many times has it been asked if a relationship is “Facebook official”? This dedication to social media goes beyond mere compulsion; it is an obligation.

Gradually, sneakily, and unconsciously, it has been accepted as an undeniable truth by the millennials that social media is the definitive theatre of social interaction. Because of this, a person’s social circle has increased exponentially. Before, only one’s friends, family, and perhaps acquaintances, had any clear idea of his or her life. Now, anyone with Internet access can click twice and find someone’s Facebook profile. Experiences shared exclusively with friends and family have come to be considered almost private.

And here lies the root of the question for which this article is titled: Why do we hate to be alone? Humanity has evolved as social organisms; humans are hardwired to connect to other humans for both their own benefit and the benefit of society as a whole. Isolation from the social construct deprives both the individual and the community the opportunity to thrive. It is, in essence, this ancient instinct that motivates the 16-year-old girl to pick up her phone and add a third selfie to her Snapchat story. The social theatre has changed venue from a tribe wandering the savannah to an electronic web that has reached across the globe. Willful non-participation in this grand social web pins the individual against society. Notifying those closest to you about your day-to-day activities no longer seems to be enough. Interaction outside the web of social media offers no contribution to the larger extension of society.

Granted, the average person is not considering their impact on the rest of humanity when they upload a post. They simply wish to showcase themselves and to reflect their life in a positive way to others. Not posting something does not give the same satisfaction as getting fifty likes. A person is validated when others react to their experience. A like says, “Yes, this is significant to me.” In a way, it shows empathy, union and benevolence to the poster, qualities upon which society advances. Being ignored shows that whatever the poster is doing isn’t a significant contribution. The like has democratized social interactions, quantifying what is worthwhile and what is not.

Social media, for the moment at least, is the de facto stomping ground for human interaction. It underlines in a subtle way what human society has been developed for: connection, empathy and progress. Individuals contribute to produce something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, when one is removed from this media, the person is in no way a part of this societal progress. Society moves on while the lonely individual stays behind, trapped in a bubble. Is person to person interaction dead? Certainly not. But the millennials, the extroverted generation, have begun to form a marvelous social organism that has never been seen before. The world is connected in a way that it never has before, and one should think twice before they elect to remove themselves from it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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