“What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if we don’t find speaking easy? And is technology helping with these things? Does it draw us closer together, or trap us behind screens?”
5 thoughts on “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone”
There seems to be a correlation between loneliness and screen consumption.
The mystery remains whether there is a causality.
I have to revise my previous comment. This study result came in:
“A Week Off Social Media Reduces Depression and Anxiety”
Great share Alexander, thank you. It does seem that screen time on social media can have an impact on well-being and mental health with the question being how to adapt to its proliferation given its ubiquitous nature. From the sensitivity angle, we know that a positive and supportive environment is essential for our continued growth and well-being. Further, it is worth observing that even social media groups dedicated to HSPs are often in unhealthy conflict between posters and respondents. Social media’s sense of anonymity seems to embolden people in harmful ways they might not engage in when face to face with others, especially people they do not know.
Certainly though, if one is scrolling endlessly through the mountain of news about war, weather catastrophes, crimes, economy, etc.. it can make an anxious person worse, if they spend too much time consuming the bad news. There is a strange attraction humans have to the worst news, probably wired into us from our evolutionary history of famines, plagues, wars, etc.. Challenging our ‘easy’ habits asks of us that we take an assessment of what we are consuming and consciously choose to spend our time in positive and supportive environments.
There might also be the aspect that continued “consumption” of digital content deprives the brain from “default mode” time, i.e. the idle time during which it processes the queue of undigested information and stimuli and turns them into learning and new neurological connections. If that time is reduced, then the brain may enter overwhelm. And since the brain, unlike the rest of the body, does not have physical pain available to tell us it is in a bad state, it might use mental pain, like anxiety, and even decompensate through depression.
I wonder if, once the prefrontal cortex is saturated, the brain falls back on the next older part as a backup, which is the Limbic system. Wherever one looks, one seems to see people behaving in a “limbic” way rather than in a “prefrontal” way.
Good analysis Alexander and we do seem to see a lot of people functioning from areas that involve aggressive and rash responses rather than rational and careful. When we are overwhelmed we quickly become less rational and move quickly to a need to escape, often to recharge in quieter conditions but also sometimes to avoid becoming more irritated or upset. Digital content, especially a stream of negative or anxiety producing “news” stories, can easily become a constant, negative environment that many suffer more than if they had not viewed the same content. Especially true for HSPs, as we know from differential susceptibility and environmental sensitivity theories. We HSPs “should” be more aware of our internal bodily states, as well as our emotions but still we see that so many do not possess the skills of setting and maintaining boundaries or appreciating the necessity to choose healthy environments to spend their time in.