Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A cultural economy of loneliness

Are *that* many people in America *that* lonely or afraid of being alone?

There's a difference between being lonely and being alone.

Lonely people can feel abandoned, desolate, isolated, separated, dejected or withdrawn. You can be lonely in a crowded room for a number of reasons - which may not even make sense. In fact, perhaps the loneliest you can feel is being in a relationship that is not working. You're not alone, but you are miserable because you feel so lonely.

OTOH, you can be alone and happy. Or content. Men like their "cave time" alone, according to the Venus/Mars metaphors. I enjoy my alone time to take walks, write, read, clean the house or whatever suits my fancy.

Or you can be afraid of being alone. You can feel "less than" if you're alone; incomplete, needy or like a loser.

If we're lonesome, it just means we miss someone. Wish they were here. Not the same as lonely or fearing being alone.

I've been thinking about products and places and services advertised and simply available to supposedly take care of those things, and came to a shocking conclusion: they seem to be the majority of products and services advertised.

Stuff people buy or rent to give them the false hope that in some way their lives will be less lonely. Or that they can fill up a sense of emptiness that exists in their targeted consumer.

Sadly, I'm not sure any of those products or services will solve an individual's loneliness or emptiness, though one or two may allieviate the "problem" of being alone.

Even more sadly, people with a lot of money will discover throwing it at these things doesn't work to fill up what's missing, and those with little money only find themselves living with less money but just as much misery, loneliness, a life lacking purpose or emptiness.

And they all can find themselves with habits that can be difficult, if not impossible to break without help to quit and find something positive to replace them.

The list of goods and services extends from the ridiculous to the sublime: think about it - everything from breath mints that are supposed to make you more approachable to shampoos, cars, clothes, make up, shoes, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, wha'evah - that make you sexy.

Then the places to *be* sexy: online sex sites, chat sites, gambling sites, casinos, clubs.

The saddest places to me are the restaurants - where I see couples having a meal together when they can barely speak to one another; and watching good people give their hard earned cash to religious zealots who care more about money than the well being or the souls of their "flock" of viewers.

Then there are things that people use to help their fear of feeling or to fill the emptiness: drugs, alcohol abuse, gambling addictively, workaholism, eating disorders - all addictions, really.

Interestingly, a dear friend who read this column pointed out that some people are lonely - and blame others for their loneliness - when in fact they are simply very difficult people to be around: they either cannot or choose not to look at themselves as a remedy.

People who gossip are lonely. They talk about people - in many cases people they don't know - in order to ingratiate themselves to others, seeking a bond they believe should exist - now that they have shared this "secret" and usually negative information about someone else.

TV is can also be a vacuum for lonely people.

I guess I just wish everyone knew the secret to fill the void - to be kind to themselves and others, to appreciate and love themselves, to generously share their lives, to find their purpose, pursue their passion and not be suseptable to those greedy, heartless pimps who prey on them.

Those predators whose only purpose is to give hurting, sad and vulnerable souls the temporary - and false - high of somehow feeling cared for and about, less lonely or not alone.

I wish you a life of kindness, love, generosity, sharing, purpose, passion, and fulfillment.

Please note: all these things are FREE!


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