Happiness is the lightest cloud that floats just out of reach. I can feel the cool of its cottony frills but can never take a full grasp as it inevitably dissipates. I have developed and trained the comforts within and without that can serve to imbue me with some armor against unhappiness but yet still feel its poison. The reason for this is loneliness. The world has become interconnected at the brain and not the hand. We miss the important part of connection, the sharing of space. While we can all mingle and engage each other with the sharpest minds and wits online, we do not often breath the same air, knowing each others’ physicality and appreciating each other’s feelings within the same breezes. We have become shells to our online minds which bide their time until reconnection. This makes our physical selves feel as lesser or, at worse, wholly unnecessary. While the mental connection can be maintained, although not providing happiness either, we can push aside our true loneliness and attempt to forget it.
I have mostly abandoned the online vessel as it sinks into the future. It is not for me. I have shrugged off the dross of artificiality as much as I can per moment, but we all must camouflage ourselves a bit. In doing this, I have found how truly lonely I have become. I speak of those other than my wife and daughter. This is not to say that I am not friends with my wife and daughter, however our dialogue is too often the business of the house or the business of growing up and less the meandering of free conversation or adventure. As my daughter gets older, I hope this can occur, but having been an overtly independent child myself once, I know that this may never occur between us and I must make some peace with that. I have no regular friends that I might see once per week or month; none. This reality is difficult to process. When I now try to build upon pleasant conversation a next step of potential friendship, I am met with “are you on Facebook?” to which I slump and must apologize for being strange and eccentric in my dismissal of social media. This single eccentricity seems to put off even the wildest of acquaintances; a step too far, even for them. Though they hike and resign to the wilds every weekend and preach the importance of freedom, they tether themselves still to the heaviest weight in modern history, the internet, at their fingertips in the form of some phone or device. My phone is not smart, and dare I say neither am I. This fact bewilders the common guest and stalls or completely ends their returns. My normalcy for what is the last quarter of a million years, is now an eccentricity. Has the internet changed so much of the human experience as to corrode the fabric of evolutionary habits a hundred generations old. Or, as I suspect, are we simply excusing the drug of quick interactivity and sating ourselves with it being able to also do some occasional good. I would argue, put on scale against the wrongs it burdens our society with, the good would seem not valuable enough to warrant a measured continuance.
To whatever end, I simply wanted to share some thoughts. Perhaps these thoughts are not only my own. Perhaps someone else can relate to the idea of loneliness apart from the artificial. I have some kernel of hope that I will find a way to connect with another person and build something of a friendship “offline,” but the way isn’t clear to me yet. I used to be good at this when I drank, when I smoked, when I abused various substances, activities, and lies, but now with the removal of vices comes the removal of friendly connections. Yet, as I have also realized, those friendships of old were just as artificial as any held online. Have I ever truly had a friend? Am I actually capable of recognizing such a situation? I don’t know.