“Lonely=Strong? Age of Alone: New Normal”
Prof. Sam Vaknin
Are we social animals or, given the chance at technological self-sufficiency do we reveal our true nature as atomized, schizoid creatures?
Is loneliness – the emotional reaction to being alone – merely a form of social engineering, a culture-bound syndrome?
Do we naturally prefer to be alone in order to maximize the efficient allocation of scarce resources?
Is there a difference between loneliness and aloneness? And are these bad or self-defeating lifestyle choices?
Hopelessness and abuse render self-isolation and no children rational choices.
First, the facts:
North America is the harbinger of global trends, the canary in the mine.
Men and women postpone having committed relationships in order to focus on their studies, careers, having fun, and travelling.
By the time women start to seek intimate partners, men are used to no strings attached sex and solitude: they refuse to commit or to invest.
Almost half the adult population in the USA are singles. About 31% have never been in a long-term committed relationship, including marriage or even cohabitation.
Marriage rates are down by half and about 60% of such unions end in a divorce within a few years (taking into account second and third marriages). Marriage had become just another form of a non-committal medium-term relationship and extradyadic sex is very common (about 40%). Childbirth rates have collapsed.
Friends IRL are also way rarer than before. People spend a lot more time alone and at home, consuming entertainment and consorting with a bewildering assortment of pets.
Sex in all its forms – including casual sex – is on the decline and celibacy or sexless relationships are the norm. There is a marked rise in sex with AI apps, sex dolls, and in the production and consumption of online pornography, including self-pornography.
Telecommuting, Flextime, and the pandemic conspired to force us to work from home. The last thread of human contact – the workplace – has been severed.
Other parts of the world are getting there. Contemporary singles are likely to end their lives this way.
Atomization, malignant individualism, and technological self-sufficiency conspire to render us irremediably lonely.
The solitude of singles adversely affects their income and health, both mental and physical.
These shocking data reflect terminal deficiencies in the skillset required in order to maintain intimacy and relationships.
Decades of casual sex and placing career above love hardwired our neuroplastic brain to shun both.
But what are these missing skills? The ability to compromise, set boundaries, be vulnerable, tolerate frustration, give space, trust, and cooperate.
In short: everything that the narcissists and psychopaths we are all becoming are bad at.
Reactions to loneliness
Busyness and routines
Paracosm (metaverse, multiplayer games)
Imaginary friends (social media)
Relative positioning (social media, video games)
Skill acquisition and self-improvement (self-help)
Religion and occult
Mental illness (impaired reality testing), including avoidance and withdrawal