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Thu Apr 4, 2013, 02:52 PM

why do we ignore our lonliness?

April 2, 2013 |
These days, when we pass a person on the street we usually don‘t say hello or even look them in the eye. In the city, we live in a world of strangers, the vast majority of whom we have very little to no personal relationship with whatsoever. Occasionally we may get into brief, interesting exchanges with the person behind the counter at the café or the grocery store, but these exchanges are predicated upon our purchase of something the shop is selling. This makes me wonder if such conversation is merely a byproduct of the capitalist machine in motion, a human byproduct of commerce whereby the exchange of cash sparks the expressive faculties while also providing an adequate social lubricant. While it is, of course, natural for human beings to talk and communicate with one another, unless we have a good excuse or reason to do so we seem to maintain our typical everyday stranger status with the entire general public surrounding us.



http://www.alternet.org/culture/why-are-we-all-ignoring-our-loneliness?paging=off

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Arrow 47 replies Author Time Post
Reply why do we ignore our lonliness? (Original post)
undergroundpanther Apr 2013 OP
WheelWalker Apr 2013 #1
Duer 157099 Apr 2013 #2
southernyankeebelle Apr 2013 #27
MadHound Apr 2013 #3
Trajan Apr 2013 #26
redstatebluegirl Apr 2013 #4
darkangel218 Apr 2013 #5
LancetChick Apr 2013 #7
RebelOne Apr 2013 #8
darkangel218 Apr 2013 #9
TygrBright Apr 2013 #10
Name removed Apr 2013 #21
YoungDemCA Apr 2013 #28
RKP5637 Apr 2013 #29
MadrasT Apr 2013 #43
WheelWalker Apr 2013 #6
undergroundpanther Apr 2013 #11
WheelWalker Apr 2013 #13
Rex Apr 2013 #12
RKP5637 Apr 2013 #30
Manifestor_of_Light Apr 2013 #14
RKP5637 Apr 2013 #31
Manifestor_of_Light Apr 2013 #34
RKP5637 Apr 2013 #42
KurtNYC Apr 2013 #15
bettyellen Apr 2013 #24
KurtNYC Apr 2013 #32
bettyellen Apr 2013 #35
ismnotwasm Apr 2013 #16
Arugula Latte Apr 2013 #17
Arugula Latte Apr 2013 #20
treestar Apr 2013 #39
SoCalDem Apr 2013 #18
William769 Apr 2013 #19
Apophis Apr 2013 #22
liberal_at_heart Apr 2013 #23
pink-o Apr 2013 #25
HiPointDem Apr 2013 #33
pink-o Apr 2013 #40
KoKo Apr 2013 #36
MineralMan Apr 2013 #37
treestar Apr 2013 #38
olddots Apr 2013 #41
GiveMeFreedom Apr 2013 #44
DeSwiss Apr 2013 #45
IrishEyes Apr 2013 #46
Ron Green Apr 2013 #47

Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 03:19 PM

1. Wow. That is an incredibly powerful piece with a profound message. _/|\_

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 03:23 PM

2. Talk to the other person in line with you

I often talk with other customers in line or just at the store who are looking at the same things I am. There is no incentive, in the capitalist machine sense, to do so, but we do.

C'mon, really you don't? Then start.

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Response to Duer 157099 (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:42 PM

27. When I am out and about I always look a person in the eye and say hello and even give a smile.

 

I usually get a smile and a hello back. But I am a home body and love being at home alone when my husband isn't with me. I have my pets and I like to read and watch television. My husband tells me I am home to much by myself. However, I tell him I like his company and my own company. Of course my son and his wife live next door but we seldom see them. I see the grandkids mostly every day for an 1 or 2. I love my quiet life. I know it sounds selfish but I was a kind of a person that gave a lot to others as far as my time and it was taking away from my own family. My husband asked me to back off some. He said as long as I carried other peoples problems they wouldn't solve their own. He was right. I finally back away some and now I am very happy because I get to do the things I like to do. But it is important to say hello and carry on a conversation when you see people.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 03:29 PM

3. I find that to be the attitude of both coasts, and large cities,

 

However here in the Midwest, at least in my neck of the woods, we still say hello to each other, get into conversations with complete strangers, with no problem whatsoever. However I have found that when I go to large coastal cities, NYC, LA, people tend to look askance at me with that "he's crazy" look when I say hello, much less try to engage them in a random conversation. I guess it is a regional thing.

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Response to MadHound (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:32 PM

26. I found the opposite

I have found the people on both coasts to be friendly, and those in the Midwest towns to be sullen and brooding ....

I was born in the NYC area, and lived in the LA area most of my life ... I lived in Southwest Missouri for a year and a half, and Denver for about 3 months ...

I now live in Portland Oregon .... Happy as Heck in this awesome place

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 03:33 PM

4. Love this!

We moved from the front porch to the back deck and lost our connection with neighbors. All of the fear mongering has made us afraid to engage others. How sad.....

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 03:46 PM

5. Some of us want to be left alone.

I find it awkward when strangers say hi in most cases. I like privacy a lot. I honestly can't relate to your OP. But that's just me, to each their own.

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #5)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:00 PM

7. Totally agree.

I don't know what loneliness is, and am very comfortable alone. Socializing for more than a few minutes stresses me out, and I don't want to stop and talk to people or want anyone stopping me to talk. I avoid places where I think I might run into someone I know. A quick "hi" doesn't bother me, though.

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Response to LancetChick (Reply #7)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:02 PM

8. Same here. I have been labeled a hermit. n/t

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Response to RebelOne (Reply #8)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:04 PM

9. Well, we're surronded by pets. Not complete hermits

I guess we just prefer animals to people.

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #5)


Response to darkangel218 (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:47 PM

28. Introverted, eh?

Welcome to the club.

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:51 PM

29. I like to be left alone sometimes, not always, and I can be

very outgoing ... but often, sometimes, I just want to be left alone. The worst for me is when I used to fly a lot and I was trapped next to a real talker, and/or on some of those flights where 6 people face each other, 3 opposite each other, on the plane in tight quarters.

The other is in England where when dining strangers just sit at your table if there's an empty seat. I just find that unnerving.

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:53 PM

43. Another introvert checking in

I have *never* felt "lonely".

Don't mind getting into a random conversation with folks I meet out in the world, but I am A-OK by myself, too (and usually prefer it).

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 03:50 PM

6. The individual pursuit of an individual happiness is the pursuit of loneliness.

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Response to WheelWalker (Reply #6)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:10 PM

11. and loneliness

creates a tear in ones soul,that hurts,so capitalism can step in and temporarily anesthetize that hurt with distractions and buying stuff. Retail therapy..capitalism is evil.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Reply #11)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:20 PM

13. Sounds like you've read Phillip Slater

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:15 PM

12. It is our continuing evolution into becoming just like machines.

Machines like computers.

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Response to Rex (Reply #12)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:55 PM

30. ... eventually synaptically connected into the internet ... and eventually, "The Matrix." n/t

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:23 PM

14. I run into people who start ranting about Obama, when I have said nothing to set them off.

They invade my boundaries and start hollering about how awful Obama is. They assume everyone around them agrees with them. This happened to us recently in a small store in Houston, in a good neighborhood, with a guy who we didn't want to talk to. It usually happens with loudmouth gun nuts where we live in a little town. They don't know what they are talking about.

First thing this guy did was look over hubby's shoulder (he's taller than hubby) and noticed his bank balance as he was writing a check, and made some crack about "Oh be proud of it." We were both speechless at that.

Ranted something about how bad Obama was. Said he was a home builder.

He said "Who are you gonna vote for in four years?" I looked up at the ceiling and said, "Elizabeth Warren". He kept hassling us as we walked out the door. Hubby said "Yeah she's the best thing that has come out of Oklahoma in years. She went to a rival high school across town from where I went."

I felt thoroughly violated and bothered and so did hubby. We're very sensitive about that and don't want people bothering us.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #14)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:58 PM

31. I went in a U Haul recently and all the clerk did was rant and rave about taxes ... it was

so boring and tiring.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #31)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:27 PM

34. You realize some people hate everybody else all the time.

They want to impose their opinion on you. They think everyone thinks like they do--that fear of diversity, and if you don't agree with them they are shocked. They think different is bad.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #34)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:50 PM

42. Yep, exactly! n/t

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:44 PM

15. NYC rule #3: Energy attracts like energy

People read each others energy all the time. Body language, actions, context all add up to an impression which either invites us or repels us.

Happiness tends to throw a wider net than depression but either end of the spectrum will be most likely to attract those in a similar state of mind. Sometimes this plays out in odd ways: rude people are more likely to call other rude people out on their behavior, perhaps because the polite would find it rude to do so.

Negative expectations create negative experiences. Having lived in many cities I find NY to be like one giant cocktail party (mostly without the booze) -- people are spontaneous and ready to engage but YOU have to smile and make eye contact.



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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #15)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:10 PM

24. Love it, Kurt! Can I ask.....


are there really NYC Rules # 1 and #2?

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #24)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:12 PM

32. They're not rules so much as something like the laws of physics

Rule #1 No good deed goes unpunished.

Rule #2 Good restaurants are crowded. (The joke/saying is: "That place is so crowded that nobody goes there anymore.")

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #32)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:33 PM

35. Thank you! All true, but #3 is so important to keep in mind.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:53 PM

16. That was awesome

(Glad to see you BTW)

I live by Seattle, a town known to be superficially friendly, but hard on newcomers, who, when they want to meet people to socialize with find it difficult.

We like to blame it on the weather, but this makes me wonder

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 04:58 PM

17. One sidenote about eye contact: Long ago I developed the habit of mostly avoiding it with men

When I was a young women, I had a lot of city encounters with men taking even the slightest look in their direction as an invitation to "make a move" or even to start badgering me. It made me a bit wary and I think the habit has carried over well into middle age.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 07:41 PM

20. I just came across this article talking about this very thing:

http://www.the-broad-side.com/street-harassment-why-you-should-chalk-your-walk-this-sunday

...Most women don’t even think about it. But, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, education, age and especially, clothes, all women experience varying degrees of street harassment. More than 90 percent of girls and women surveyed internationally report being harassed. In the United States, surveys have indicated that 60% of women do not make eye contact in public in order to avoid engaging people who might harass them and 24% don’t exercise outside for the same reason. If you ask many of these people, they won’t say they’re being harassed because they are limiting their behavior as an adaptation. The same thing happens every time a woman changes her commuting routine, parks in a distant lot because it is better lit, crosses the street to avoid a construction site. A recent PolicyMic article by Elizabeth Plank revealed that in France fully 25% of women are fearful in public spaces. These numbers are evident the world over and far worse in some countries, like Egypt, India and Tunisia, where the unrelenting quality of the harassment is paralyzing to women....

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:39 PM

39. Same here.

I found looking at people could be dangerous!

I enjoy being older now - young men are polite to me and I can be friendly back.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 05:06 PM

18. All my life I have conversed with strangers

I was raised in a military family and moved a lot, so I was always the new kid. Lucky for me, I am outgoing.

There were probably times when I was in a situation that could have been dangerous to my safety, but somehow,. I have never been afraid of strangers

By the time my sons came along, I had to work hard to teach them to be cautious without being deliberately isolated.. They all survived and have gazillions of friends.. They can, and do make conversation with anyone and everyone..

I think people today are afraid..not necessarily of any one thing..just afraid in general..and they (we) have just withdrawn to smaller and smaller circles.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 05:08 PM

19. Thats not how I was raised in Kentucky.

I'm still as friendly as ever to strangers on the street (some more so than others).

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 07:44 PM

22. I embrace my loneliness.

I prefer to be alone than making pointless small talk with people I don't know.

Give me a good book or video game and solitude and I'm happy.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 07:52 PM

23. People have different personalities but we all need some form of interaction or we wouldn't be

on this board. I have had depression and anxiety issues most of my life, plus I am just a quiet and introverted person. I am much more comfortable conversing with someone than I use to be, but generally I am not the one that starts up the conversation. Sometimes I think I would like to work on my social skills because I usually find after having a conversation I feel happy. It's almost like I can feel the endorphins kicking in. But starting a conversation can be awkward.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 08:19 PM

25. I am guilty of that Urban solitude. I love it.

Last edited Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:44 PM - Edit history (1)

But I also see that a bunch of people living alone in little rabbit warrens is not natural for our species. The corporate power base loves it though: if we exist in small villages and take care of each other, not only do we form bonds that defend us against the oligarchy, but we also buy less shit. Think about it: My mom and dad used to borrow their neighbor's tools and electronics, vacuum cleaners, et al. Maybe one neighbor had a big TV, and the other families would go over for sporting events, bringing food and drinks to equalize the value. But now, everyone has to own their own of everything--consequently maximizing the profits for the companies that manufacture the products.

But OTOH, there is an understanding of diversity in the cities you just don't see anywhere else. We might not be best friends with the folks around us, but we don't freak out when someone speaks another language or dresses differently or is darker or lighter than we are. In the 'burbs and the country, you're either in your car, your office, your school, your local box store, and you're surrounded by people like yourself. If you don't take public transport, and there's nothing on your street other than tract homes, it's harder to acclimate to diversity. I see cities as the next step in our evolution--and we need to make an effort to find a bridge, turning those "strangers" into friends.

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Response to pink-o (Reply #25)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:16 PM

33. don't you mean 'buy *less* shit'?

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #33)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:45 PM

40. Thanx! Edited.

Teach me to write run ons!!!

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:34 PM

36. It's a breakdown in our Social Structure and Fragmentation of us

by our Media and Social Preferences into consumer entities. Job structure causing us to move out of our communities and ties to family and the family structure evolves as more and more break away seeking jobs with lifestyle changes. And the Internet has played a part where people can interact with each other in a faceless community where one tries to find social interaction in diversity but with controlled anonymity.

There's always FaceBook...which might be more interconnected with Family/Friends...but...it's not like it was in past years...in communities.

Things have changed. We don't really have commonality with our living community like folks did in times past. imho.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:36 PM

37. I chat with stranger all the time.

Just say Hi to people you encounter. That is all it takes.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:37 PM

38. I think it is just mere numbers

In a huge city you can't greet everyone. In a small town it makes sense.

I live in a suburb of a smallish city and find most people are pretty friendly. They'll chat in lines. It's just that you know you aren't seeing them again, and you can really only relate to people you see often enough to know something about them. Still, over time, that happens. I go into the bank a lot and after a while, they know me. That's a valuable thing.





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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:47 PM

41. I believe that the bigger the population the more lonlieness there is .

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:56 PM

44. This is an ironic post for me about how I feel about DU

I have tried to have conversations with other members of DU on a random introduction kinda of way. To be ostracized in a thread sort of hurts my feelings, but I try to persist, be polite, and honest to get a response. Being new still (less than a thousand posts) means to me, that others try to avoid folks on DU who are new. I liked the welcoming committee I first got when I had less than a hundred posts. Now I realize that I was being monitored for inappropriate behavior by DU. Of course I had no fear that my political beliefs were not inline with what DU represents, I just did not realize at the time how important this website is and has become to my life. I would not knowingly try or do anything that would get me banned from this website, but I would leave voluntarily if I felt that I have been mistreated by to many members at once. Peace.

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:59 PM

45. We're taught to mistrust each other. That keeps us weak. :-| K&R n/t

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Response to undergroundpanther (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:25 PM

46. I'm very shy

I smiled at a stranger as I walked down the street during the day once. I was feeling friendly and good about the world. He said "What the fuck are you smiling at?"

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Response to IrishEyes (Reply #46)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 01:05 AM

47. You did the right thing, although at the risk of

the actual result.

Love takes courage; fear is easy.

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