Events in the past few days have made me contemplate a lot on this topic. Before I go on any further, let me tell you what triggered this chain of thought.
I mentioned in one of my earlier posts (2022 seems to be a mixed bag so far…) that we shifted to a new house. This apartment comes with facilities like a pool, table tennis, snooker setups etc. None of which, my husband or I have ever used in these past months. Weekdays are consumed with work calls, meetings, long hours of sitting in front of the laptop. The remaining time, we prefer to waste it with mindless scrolling on various social media platforms, binge watching and just keeping busy with our phones and laptops. Weekends are filled with household chores, lazing around, maybe going out for dinner or catching a movie or an occasional meet-up with the few old time friends we have. This is our life, especially in the post covid life. And as you can tell, this kind of life and lifestyle doesn’t really give us the opportunity to meet too many new people and get new friends. Or so I thought!! Turns out, that’s just a bullsh*t excuse.
And how do I know that? Well, my in-laws came over. They usually stay with us for a few months every year. And my father in law absolutely hates it. Not because he doesn’t like living with us, but because he feels extremely lonely and isolated here. No friends, relatives or acquaintances to talk to, to meet and catch up over a cup of tea. So he either spends time talking with them on calls or telling us stories about them. And so, while he stays with us, he literally counts days before he heads back home to ‘his people’. This is how things have been all these years.
But this time, it has been different. Our apartment has a table tennis and snooker board. I had seen senior people playing there (i have never joined in, coz I don’t know how to play either of them). So one day, i suggested to him to go and try it out. And he did. Initially, he was reluctant and hesitant. But gradually he started going pretty regularly. Came back and told me about meeting this person, talking to that person. It’s been a few weeks now, and today he has a ‘friend circle’ here. Mostly comprising of retired, senior people, much like him. They play a few rounds of Table tennis, take a walk in the park, sometimes just sit and talk about their past jobs, travels, kids, grandkids. But this daily interaction of an hour or so, has brought about such a huge change in my father in law. He is definitely more upbeat, eats on time so that he is light and agile when he goes to play. Comes back and shares some interesting anecdotes shared by his ‘friends’. I have even seen him practice his shots in the air, in front of the mirror. The same man who would always crib about staying with us, away from his friends and relatives is now thinking of moving in permanently with us!! Thats the power of friendship and human connections.
As happy as i am about this change in him, it’s also making me wonder about my dwindling friend list. My father in law has made more friends in a week than I have in the last 3-4 years. Not on social media. I have a pretty solid count there. I have over 500 followers each on all the social media platforms, who like and comment on all my pics that display my ‘happy life’. But I am talking about real time friends. Friends we meet with or speak to regularly on phone, WhatsApp, facetime etc. People who actually know about what’s going on in our lives and not just what we post online. I am talking about the friends who know of our struggles, our downfalls, our lows, stuff that don’t go up on our social media walls. And am afraid, that count of real, true friends is rapidly dwindling for me. 😔😔
I look at the other same aged person in the house. My husband. He has/had a lot of friends. Friends from school, friends from college, friends from each company he worked in. And he is in touch with a lot of them. And yet he complains that he has no friends to hang out with these days.
So why is it that two 30-something, friendly, social people have such an acute shortage of friends, while a retired 70 year old man can make friends so easily? Are things like lack of communication, time constraints, hectic lives to be blamed for this draught in our friend finding quest? Or does the fault lie in us? 🤔🤔
I think the fault definitely lies with us. We have stopped putting in the one thing that makes all the difference. Effort. We don’t put effort anymore to maintain the relationships that we have built during our lifetime. We don’t put effort to communicate, to reach out, to find out how they are doing. We just see posts from people and assume they are fine. That they are happy. We don’t take it upon ourselves to reach out and have a real heart to heart conversation. I dont know about you, but i definitely don’t. Except for a handful of people, I just don’t make an effort to be in touch.
I would normally blame it on my hectic and demanding job, erratic work hours, late nights, household chores. Even covid. But truth is, I am happy in my own space. My safe little cocoon where I am left alone. I hate to admit it, but truth is, with age and the ups and downs of life, I have found solace in solitude, peace in my own concocted world, I have ended up finding comfort in my loneliness.
But i wonder, is it just me or is it the same with others too? Looking around, i feel it’s not just me. We have a common friend who lives in the same city but despite several texts to plan and meet up, he never steps out. When asked, he says he is too busy. But how busy can a millennial, single guy be? Especially on weekends? 🤔🤔
Seems like, these days we are so engrossed in our own lives, our own problems, that slowly we are losing interest in others. We are losing touch with people, losing interest in reaching out to others, sharing our problems or in knowing about their troubles. We don’t want to share our own feelings, we don’t want to know others’ problems as well. We just want to be left alone. Left alone to ourselves. Immersed in our loneliness. And loneliness is addictive. Once you get used to it, it’s difficult to get back to mainstream social life. And that is a dangerous thing. Coz we are after all social beings and this kind of isolation cannot be the norm I suppose.
What do you think? Are we, as a generation heading towards an unhealthy obsession with loneliness? Is it going to be the new normal going forward or is it time we pull up our socks and get out of this before we are rendered incapable of forming meaningful social bonds? Would love to know what you guys think.