Here’s the truth — the loneliness scare is real and it plagues a large number of young adults in the country today. The recent instance of a middle class woman from Hyderabad ending her life over her husband coming home late every day brought the intensity of it to the fore. Social media is also to blame as networking sites often give us the illusion that we are connected, giving us a false sense of security and adulation, when in reality it could be far from true. Experts give us their take on combating loneliness.
Not okay being lonely
Shweta Bhat, a Bengaluru-based psychological counsellor and trainer, attributes the stigma of being on your own as the main culprit. “In a typical Indian context, being on your own is not perceived as ‘desirable’. A lot of people are still not okay or rather do not look up to the idea of doing things alone — for instance, dining alone, a single woman being unmarried despite having attained marriageable age, or indulging in a solo activity when it can easily be done in groups. The fear and panic at the prospects of being ‘on your own’ and ‘alone’ are what drives individuals with a low self esteem to take drastic measures when they feel they aren’t offered the validation or attention they crave. It is important to take time out and remind yourself that you matter and engage in positive self talk and affirmations from time to time.
Building a connect
While it is important to make an effort to curb loneliness, clinical psychologist Dr Karan M. Pai suggests building a connect with oneself than just seeking out external fulfilment. “I don’t think it is right to attribute a reason like social media addiction to a state of mind like loneliness. While it is very normal for those vulnerable to mood swings and low self esteem to get to believe that somebody else’s life is better than theirs; often overlooked aspects like stress, social anxiety, mood swings and similar factors lead to feelings of loneliness. It is imperative to get out and make an effort to build deep relationships. But, as much important it is to switch off and talk to let things out of your system, do ensure you give yourself the time to fill yourself up first by building a connect within yourself. Develop a hobby, nurture a passion and get more individualistic — that’s the real solution.” In keeping with popular studies that show how constant comparison on social media triggers feelings of incompleteness and loneliness, Shweta adds, “It has been proven that excess social media usage affects the way you function. There are reports of dopamine surges among people who crave online validation. But that doesn’t equate to any social media usage as potentially hazardous. If you are on a networking site to connect, there is no harm. But if you rely on a few likes or followers to up your worth, you need to reassess your perspectives.”
Planning before using social media
While excessive social media usage is also to be blamed; Digital marketing expert Muralidhar Bhat stresses on the importance of strategising and planning your engagement activity and time. “It would be unfair to solely blame social media for feeling incomplete or dissatisfied with one’s life. A daily usage of about one to two hours is perfectly fine, provided you are mindful when accepting requests and the people you follow. In the era of smartphones, one needs to be a smart user and not be completely out of the loop either. The trick is to restrict your engagement and keep your circles close and short, so that you don’t fall into the trap of believing everything that a stranger with a seemingly good life posts.”