Loneliness is usually characterized by a deep feeling of emptiness. Lonely people often feel alienated from the world around them, usually due to external or internal causes. The causes vary from social, marital, emotional to physical and loss of a loved one. Often times, people experience social loneliness when they feel neglected by a certain group of people. Several efforts to get associated with them are treated with a cold response.
On the other hand, marital loneliness, which is becoming more prevalent in some parts of the world, occurs when one partner feels left alone. When one partner in a marital relationship constantly abuses the other verbally, emotionally and financially, the abused partner develops a strong feeling of deprivation and becomes withdrawn in the relationship. People get emotionally lonely when they undergo series of emotional deprivation from a partner, colleagues at work, friends and family members. People also experience loneliness due to a psychological problem characterized by chronic depression which could be due to the loss of a significant person in one’s life. One might feel extremely lonely even while in the company of others.
In another twist, there is the school of thought shared by the existentialists which views loneliness as the essence of human beings. The same school of thought believes that human beings came into the world alone and they pass through life as an individual and will consequently die alone. According to existentialists, coming to terms with and accepting the human existence with some level of grace is the human condition.
Major causes of this rising loneliness have been identified as the significant changes in modern life.
Interestingly, modern life seems to be making people lonelier. Recent researches have actually linked loneliness with one of the major causes of obesity and substance abuse. Studies have also indicated that loneliness is one of the risk factors that increases mortality rate by 26%. Within the last ten years, the Church of England and the Church Urban fund have found a 10% increase in loneliness among clergy members who felt socially isolated in their local area. A survey by the Mental Health Fund in the United Kingdom indicates that one in every ten persons experiences a feeling of loneliness while about 48% of the study population feels people are generally getting lonelier. Surprisingly, Britain has been voted as the loneliest capital in Europe.
Major causes of this rising loneliness have been identified as the significant changes in modern life. People live in small nuclear family units and far away from extended family and friends; the increasing reliance on social technology as against a face to face interaction is considered to be a major cause of isolation which ultimately leads to loneliness. What this means is that people feel less connected to others and relationships have increasingly become more superficial with lesser rewards.
The new trend of life characterized by heavy reliance on technology as a means of communication has made warm human contact less conducive. For instance, adolescents live in a world where they have their own computers and practically live isolated from other members of the family, but ironically, they still feel lonely. Family members come in and go out without conversation or sharing a meal.
In reducing the menace of loneliness, it has been suggested that lonely people should strive to reduce social isolation by linking up with others. While they may initially experience anxiety and lack of trust for others and also a feeling of low self esteem, they are however to be supported and encouraged to do away with such views and low feelings of themselves.