Her day looked something like this:
Wishes on her Facebook wall: 218
Whatsapp messages: 83
Phone calls: 6
Friends who dropped in with a cake: 1
Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of today’s millennials.
Isolated from their families, single, and friendless – our generation seems to have lost all proclivity towards human contact.
Somewhere between growing up and ‘adulting’, we’ve reached a point when dropping a “Happy Bday” (don’t even get me started on those who write “HBD”) text is cool, sending wedding invites on WhatsApp groups is absolutely fine and congratulating someone via a LinkedIn message is the decent thing to do. A time when staying in bed all weekend binge-watching Netflix is higher on our preferability list than spending an evening with friends. When a video call with family members sitting across the country on Diwali is good enough. When replying to Facebook comments from someone sitting across the world is more important than talking to the person across the table. When being single is deemed to be more fashionable than committing and settling down.
There is no harm in choosing to live your life this way. If only, it was something that made us happy or content. If only, it was what we truly wanted.
But the sad fact remains that while we choose to be alone in little ways throughout the day, we also gripe with the fact that we are lonely. From the time when we realise we don’t have enough friends to plan that trip with (well, because most of our friends are married, abroad or too busy to meet), to that Friday evening when we swipe right and left (mostly that) through strangers’ profiles looking for a way to get out that weekend, to the time when we book a single movie ticket for Sunday evening.
It is in such moments, that we inevitably find ourselves wondering why we’ve started to feel lonely. And we question why and when did we get so ‘inhuman’?
But did we do something about it?
Of course not. We just push that thought away and continued with our ways.
Until one day, we were forced to stay indoors. For weeks on end.
Long days stretched ahead of us – days that went by in a blur – a myriad of work emails, empty packets of Maggi, never-ending TV shows and odd sleeping hours. We were finally allowed to do away with the minimal human contact we’d had. No need to make small talk at the coffee machine at work. No need to deal with that cab driver in the morning. For once, we were allowed to fully ensconce ourselves in our own homes.
Who would have imagined we’d live to see such a day?
But it was now that we started complaining.
We started wondering – when did we cross the line from being alone to being lonely?
When did the exciting flavour of solitude turn into the bitter aftertaste of seclusion?
And why are we complaining, when we’ve fought all our adult lives to get to this point of isolation?
This period of isolation, if nothing else, has taught us the importance of human touch. The fact that no matter how much we love ourselves, we need others to remain sane. That no matter how much we love being alone, we can no longer pretend we don’t need others.
What happens next remains to be seen. Will we go back to times before the advent of technology? To interact more. To be as connected to others as prior generations? Sure, we can try. But unless we collectively decide to do so, it won’t be the same.
Unless we all go back, we’d truly never be able to go back.
Moreover, there is a reason why we evolved from social beings to the solitary beings we’ve now become. There is a reason why we chose to be more committed to our phones than to people. Surely, there was something in this tech-driven way of life that appealed to us back then.
And who’s to say it won’t start appealing to us once again?
And on that note, all I can hope is that we make peace with this way of life.
That we accept it as our lot in life. Not because we are forced to. But because we choose to.
That we stop getting disappointed at the thought of another holiday season with no plans.
That we become content with the fact that with more advancement comes more isolation.
Until then, happy swiping!
“There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is out of choice. Being lonely is not.”
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