Loneliness and our preference for drama

I’ve been chatting with my supervisor lately about loneliness.  She is a classy lady who is very well educated and was born early enough in history to escape the clutches of Facebook and twitter and what not.  She is puzzled by this social media culture and ‘demands’ that I read and think more around the why’s so that somehow I can explain it to her.  Of course she’s still the one doing the explaining but it’s kind of her to invite my contributions!

I began by re-reading a great paper written by a friend (which I’m not going to get into in this post). But in it he quotes Douglas Coupland in Miss Wyoming “… loneliness is the most taboo subject in the world”. That idea got stuck in my head and in one of our weekly discussions chatting about how FB can be sought as a solution to loneliness but also perpetuates it I threw out Coupland’s idea -that loneliness is a taboo in our society and culture, …”more than cancer” I added flippantly, to which she retorted ‘yes indeed, because at least cancer has some drama to it’.

I thought about that. I thought about how right she is and how sad that is. Why is it easier to sit with the ill or the recently bereaved or the earthquake survivors (I’m not saying it’s easy, please don’t miss the point) than with the lonely? Why are we more comfortable with dramatic suffering than the mundane? Are we embarrassed by our own loneliness and bored by it in others?

These are just the beginnings of some questions and rumblings in my mind. I have no real clue what I’m saying yet. So please chip in.

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