“Lonely/I’m Mr. lonely/I have nobody for my own.” – Bobby Vinton, “Mr. Lonely”
So, how lonely are we? Well, if everything is to be believed, then Facebook is making us lonely, the Internet is making us lonely, telephones are making us lonely, and generally, everything that doesn’t directly engage with others is making us lonely.
And here’s some more good news about your loneliness: It might just be shortening your life. Or, to put it another way, social isolation might be killing you. Recent scientific studies have been finding some strange relations between social isolation (the condition where a person has fewer social connections in their lives) and a higher likelihood for death. However, it’s less of a biological cause, and more of a social one.
The researchers suspect that older people who have few social ties may not be getting the care they need. No one is urging them to eat right or take their medicine, and in a crisis no one is there to help.
In other words, the lack of social connections means that people in trouble will not have any outside intervention to save their lives. This kind of data is helpful on a practical level for those with older family members who don’t go out as much.
But on a philosophical level, I see this as clear evidence that we are social creature who are designed for community and are always in need of it. In my sociology class, this seemed to be one of the ideas that sociologists and philosophers agree about. In his book Man as Man, Reverend Thomas Higgins states that:
No individual is so self-sufficient that by his own ingenuity he can fully provide for himself. Thrown completely on his own, he finds innumerable goods of the physical, intellectual, moral, and aesthetic orders completely unattainable, or attainable only with consummate difficulty.
We need others. “No man is an island,” as the saying goes. As Christians, God has ordained that we should live in community, both in families, as well as in churches, neighborhoods, states of government — and Internet communities. Let us never neglect these, and keep up our social connections, for they provide the fuel of life.
But also, let us reach out to those who have little to no social interaction. Whether it be visits to home, conversations about life and family, or just playing World of Warcraft with them, we create a connection that may allow us to delve in further, and possibly bring something to their lives that they just happen to desperately need.