It is surprising that there is still loneliness in the world. There has never been a time when humans have had the ability to interact widely with others every waking moment of our lives. But this level of communication has only spread our attention and awareness thinner. Instead of being part of a physical community many of us are more active members of virtual communities that rarely have any physical form beyond a shimmering array of images on a screen. While virtual communities can expand our understanding of others and keep us connected over great distances, they cannot substitute for physical community. The lack of real community results in isolation and loneliness that can lead to anxiety and depression. Lonely people living in a virtual world can become angry, aggressive and behave abnormally towards others in society.
But we also need time alone. Time in quiet contemplation striving to know ourselves better and, for those seeking creative expression, the opportunity to find and give form to the thoughts and ideas that well up within us. The virtual world conspires to keep us from being truly alone, from being our own creative self, the never ending digital stream of words and images constantly competing with the words and images of our own creation for our attention.
The challenge is being alone without becoming lonely.