Loneliness

Loneliness


Everybody feels lonely from time to time. When we have no one to sit next to at lunch, when we move to a new city, or when nobody has time for us at the weekend. But over the last few decades, this occasional feeling has become chronic for millions. In the UK, 60% of 18 to 34-year-olds
say they often feel lonely. In the US, 46% of the entire
population feel lonely regularly. We are living in the most
connected time in human history. And yet, an unprecedented number of us feel isolated. Being lonely and being alone are not the same thing. You can be filled with bliss by yourself and hate every second surrounded by friends. Loneliness is a purely subjective, individual experience. If you feel lonely, you are lonely. A common stereotype is that loneliness only happens to people who don’t know how to talk to people, or how to behave around others. But population-based studies have shown that social skills make practically no difference for adults when it comes to social connections. Loneliness can affect everybody: money, fame, power, beauty, social skills, a great personality; Nothing can protect you against loneliness because it’s part of your biology. Loneliness is a bodily function, like hunger. Hunger makes you pay attention
to your physical needs. Loneliness makes you pay attention
to your social needs. Your body cares about your social needs,
because millions of years ago it was a great
indicator of how likely you were to survive. Natural selection rewarded
our ancestors for collaboration, and for
forming connections with each other. Our brains grew and became more and more fine-tuned to recognize what others thought and felt, and to form and sustain social bonds. Being social became part of our biology. You were born into groups of 50 to 150 people which you usually stayed with for the rest of your life. Getting enough calories, staying safe and warm, or caring for offspring was practically impossible alone. Being together meant survival. Being alone meant death. So it was crucial that you got along with others. For your ancestors, the most dangerous threat to survival was not being eaten by a lion, but not getting the social vibe of
your group and being excluded. To avoid that, your body came up with ‘social pain’. Pain of this kind is an
evolutionary adaptation to rejection: a sort of early warning system to make sure
you stop behavior that would isolate you. Your ancestors who experienced rejection as more painful were more likely to change their behavior when they got rejected and thus stayed in the tribe, while those who did
not got kicked out and most likely died. That’s why rejections hurt. And even more so, why loneliness is so painful. These mechanisms for keeping us connected worked great for most of our history, until humans began building a new world for themselves. The loneliness epidemic we see today
really only started in the late Renaissance. Western culture began to focus on the individual. Intellectuals moved away from the collectivism of the Middle Ages, while the young Protestant theology stressed individual responsibility. This trend accelerated during the Industrial Revolution. People left their villages and fields to enter factories. Communities that had existed for hundreds of years began to dissolve, while cities grew. As our world rapidly became modern,
this trend sped up more and more. Today, we move vast distances for new jobs, love and education, and leave our social net behind. We meet fewer people in person, and we
meet them less often than in the past. In the US, the mean number of close friends
dropped from 3 in 1985 to 2 in 2011. Most people stumble into chronic
loneliness by accident. You reach adulthood
and become busy with work, university, romance, kids and Netflix.
There’s just not enough time. The most convenient and easy thing to sacrifice
is time with friends. Until you wake up one day and
realize that you feel isolated; that you yearn for close relationships. But it’s hard to find close connections as adults and so, loneliness can become chronic. While humans feel pretty great about
things like iPhones and spaceships, our bodies and minds are fundamentally
the same they were 50,000 years ago. We are still biologically fine-tuned
to being with each other. Large scale studies have shown that the stress that comes from chronic loneliness is among the most unhealthy things
we can experience as humans. It makes you age quicker, it makes cancer deadlier, Alzheimer’s advance faster,
your immune systems weaker. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity and
as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The most dangerous thing about it is that once it becomes chronic, it can become self-sustaining. Physical and social pain use common mechanisms in your brain. Both feel like a threat, and so, social pain leads to immediate and defensive behaviour when it’s inflicted on you. When loneliness becomes chronic,
your brain goes into self-preservation mode. It starts to see danger and hostility everywhere. But that’s not all. Some studies found that when you’re lonely, your brain is much more receptive and alert to social signals, while at the same time, it gets worse
at interpreting them correctly. You pay more attention to others but you understand them less. The part of your brain
that recognises faces gets out of tune and becomes more likely to categorize neutral faces as hostile, which makes it distrustful of others. Loneliness makes you assume the worst
about others’ intentions towards you. Because of this perceived hostile world, you can become up more self-centered to protect yourself, which can make you appear more cold, unfriendly and socially awkward than you really are. If loneliness has become a strong presence in your life, the first thing you can do is to try to recognise the vicious cycle you may be trapped in. It usually goes something like this: An initial feeling of isolation leads to feelings of tension and sadness, which makes you focus your attention selectively on negative interactions with others. This makes your thoughts about
yourself and others more negative, which then changes your behavior. You begin to avoid social interaction, which leads to more feelings of isolation. This cycle becomes more severe
and harder to escape each time. Loneliness makes you sit far away from others in class, not answer the phone when friends call, decline invitations until the invitations stop. Each and every one of us has a story about ourselves, and if your story becomes that people exclude you, others pick up on that, and so the outside world can become the way you feel about it. This is often a slow creeping process that takes years, and can end in depression and a mental state that prevents connections, even if you yearn for them. The first thing you can do to escape it is to
accept that loneliness is a totally normal
feeling and nothing to be ashamed of. Literally, everybody feels lonely at some
point in their life, it’s a universal human experience. You can’t eliminate or ignore
a feeling until it goes away magically, but you can accept that you
feel it and get rid of its cause. You can self-examine what you focus
your attention on, and check if you are
selectively concentrating on negative things. Was this interaction with a colleague really negative,
or was it really neutral or even positive? What was the actual content of an interaction? What did the other person say? And did they say something bad,
or did you add extra meaning to their words? Maybe another person was not really
reacting negatively, but just short on time. Then, there are your thoughts about the world.
Are you assuming the worst about others’ intentions? Do you enter a social situation
and have already decided how it will go? Do you assume others don’t want you around? Are you trying to avoid being hurt
and not risking opening up? And, if so, can you try
to give others the benefit of the doubt? Can you just assume that they’re not against you? Can you risk being open and vulnerable again? And lastly, your behaviour. Are you avoiding opportunities to be around others?
Are you looking for excuses to decline invitations? Or are you pushing others away
preemptively to protect yourself? Are you acting as if you’re getting attacked? Are you really looking for new connections,
or have you become complacent with your situation? Of course, every person
and situation is unique and different, and just introspection alone might not be enough. If you feel unable to solve your situation by yourself, please try to reach out and get professional help.
It’s not a sign of weakness, but of courage. However we look at loneliness, as a purely individual problem that needs solving to create more personal happiness, or as a public health crisis, it is something that deserves more attention. Humans have built a world that’s nothing short of amazing, and yet, none of the shiny things we’ve made is able to satisfy or substitute our fundamental biological need for connection. Most animals get what they need from their physical surroundings. We get what we need from each other, and we need to build our
artificial human world based on that. Let’s try something together:
let’s reach out to someone today, regardless if you feel a little bit lonely,
or if you want to make someone else’s day better. Maybe write a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Call a family member who’s become estranged. Invite a work buddy for a coffee, Or just go to something you’re usually too afraid to go to or too lazy to go to, like a D&D event or a sports club. Everybody’s different,
so you know what’s a good fit for you. Maybe nothing will come of it, and that’s okay.
Don’t do this with any expectations. The goal is just to open up a bit; to exercise your connection muscles,
so they can grow stronger over time, or to help others exercise them. We want to recommend two of the books
we read while researching this video. ‘Emotional First Aid’ by Guy Winch,
a book that addresses, among other topics, how to deal with loneliness in a way that we found helpful and actionable and ‘Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection’ by John Cacioppo and William Patrick. It’s an entertaining and scientific exploration as to why we experience loneliness on a biological level, how it spread in society and what science
has to say about how to escape it. Links for both books are in the video description. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe!

100 comments

  1. We designed a poster on this topic as well. You can find it here: https://standard.tv/collections/in-a-nutshell/products/in-a-nutshell-loneliness-poster

  2. Come create the platform designed to combat loneliness
    Together we can create a space where everyone is heard and seen as they are
    We can have a conversation that changes the world
    Come participate Wednesdays 11am PST (and growing to 24/7)

  3. I hate it but a part of me keep doing it , pushing away people and keep isolating yourself while blaming others and yourself for not being better .

  4. Most connected = brainwashed hive minds unable to communicate on a nuanced and meaningful individual level. Hence loneliness as a primary symptom of real humanity in an increasingly mechanised and inhuman society. Stay strong, be proud!

  5. i guess i didn’t even realize that i do these exact things. i think i numb myself to it. i realize now that i only do things by myself because i push away others and only make myself lonelier.

  6. Someone here is interested into buy some socks? They’re from my friend calceto and they are very comfy, specially for those nights when you’re sitting there, looking at the cows of your ranch, and you’re thinking about that akward moment last week when you farted in a funeral and you laugh, and you touch your foots and realize that they’re cold and you had no socks because you horse named Jeferson Guitierritos ate them all yesterday. Well, you can buy the socks of calceto and your feet will never be cold again. Thank you for reading and i hope you are a happy person with comfy socks

  7. I started youtube for this very reason. It’s easier to become isolated as an adult. I used to be so social in high school. I’m 24 now and not even half as social as I used to be.

  8. When I decided to leave my dysfunctional family for a better life I realized how hard it was. I felt so lonely after even if I had been the one to leave. Though I think in a sense it was understandable how I felt. My past ancestors had always believed that a strong family foundation was everything despite how toxic. Leaving my family had been the “ultimate betrayal”. Now I try to learn to find comfort in being alone because I am now the person I wished to become, myself. I started living my life when I realized I did not have to live the way I had been told.

  9. Thank you Kurzgesagt for making this video. I know the script for this video took more than a year to complete. Thank you for your commitment to try and produce high quality content for us to watch. You guys make my day 😊

  10. i believe that the way the US is, the percentage is far more than 46%, the way social conditioning is laid out upon children since childbirth is very abundant. i see too many parents and teachers neglecting the youth, its not common to actually hear an adult reach out to them, or listen for the least. lets not sugar coat about looking at the bright side, that shit spreads like a cancers because since we are put in this world to learn, this is what we feed on and the cycle continues but it spreads

  11. Lonelyness doesn't necessarily have to mean that you're in need of a person around. In many cases it can be that you're actually in need for something that you can have fun with. You're free to cry about it and sit on your ass as long as you want to but if you actually start doing things that you can keep learning from, like this video for example. Start planning your days and make it that you're mainly only focussing on self-development for your future. If you're like a person that only plays games the entire day, then that means you're only using you're short term memory the entire day wich will fuck you harder then you can ever imagine.

  12. I'm in my early 20's and somewhat successful. I've reached the Lonely and complacent step of this video. I moved to a new city and have a great job making rapid advances in my career but I know no one here. I work with everyone in my department very closely and we have out of work meet ups but they never go beyond "Work Friends". It's a lot harder to meet new people and stave off loneliness when you don't know how to. I have not even the foggiest idea of how to go about it and I feel like a lot of people in my demographic have the same issue. Building close interpersonal relationships is harder than ever.

  13. I've been hitten hard in the feelings so much that I decided to never feel or care again. I'm actually a bit Sorry because I liked those parts in my life were I enjoyied being happy with others. But my heart really can't handle anymore pain, so I kinda either feel relived by the idea on not feeling anymore.
    But still I'd like to Scream for help and not do so eitherway.

  14. I talk to myself more than I talk to my other people I trust only myself and I am my only friend besides my 2 dogs and I don’t regret who I am and neither should you

  15. we are alone because is hard to care for people that will change you for anything else more exciting in a heartbeat.
    Having social interactions is expensive as well, trivial conversations get old quickly and if you dont have enough to offers to others the whole concept of interaction is useless.

  16. Disclaimer: sorry for the stupid rant from a stupid guy incoming:
    I sought for professional help once (not related to loneliness) and it did a lot of damage to my psyche. So now, anytime I see someone advising or promoting psychologic or psychiatric help, something triggers in my brain, and I really get thoughts worth of an confinement in an asylum (ah, the irony). Nothing I heard from people I know who have been in therapy can help my brain from picturing therapists like folk shamans pretending to be people of science. (I apologize to any shaman reading this comment who might feel offended) The question is: is psychology really a science? How is it bound to psychiatry? And to psychotherapy? The shamahemcoffcofftherapist that spent time with me claimed herself to be "a doctor in psychology with a freudian attitude": is this even a thing? How bound is mr. Freud with psychology, and by the way, who the heck is Sigmund Freud in the first place?! What did he say? How much of what he said is still valid in psychology today? Is psychology really a science or something close to it? Should someone seek therapy each time they have a bad day (wanted to be a joke, but i actually know folks like that)?
    AH! So many questions, so little answers. It would be cool if there was a channel out there that could tell me more about What is psychology, maybe with research links and cute animations of birds :3

  17. Hmmm

    I've been alone all my life. I never had a boyfriend, I never had any real friendships. My siblings on the other hand had amazing social lives and my little sister has a variety of boys at her school that would date her. I wonder why I'm so lonely and even attempting to meet new people and make friends is nearly impossible. I just embraced my hobbies…. I'm still alone, guys I like always go for my siblings. When I was in middle school I really liked like this guy but one of my friends liked him and he choose her. I wish that a guy I really liked liked me back. ;/

  18. Basically the ones that were bullied and got abandoned by a loved one (a couple, a fathernal figure, etc) we are fucked, because we dont want to get hurt anymore but still we could get out of that shit hole were we are by trusting people again

  19. Finding help for yourself takes courage.
    That one got me.
    Taken weekly therapy sessions for years but never felt good about it. Thanks for helping me feel a little bit braver today. I need to give myself more credit for going when others don't. Therapy will help you more that you know.

  20. I'm always alone but never feel lonely. It's not about going out it's about finding someone who really listens and cares enough to give you their time and attention, someone who wants to give you advice because they really badly yearn to see you succeed and happy. But most importantly someone who understands you fully, meaning when you are finished talking to them you feel like there is nothing left to share because you've said everything to them and they get you completely. You really only need one person. When you feel understood you feel at peace and don't have the urge to talk about yourself for hours to a complete stranger.

  21. The cause of loneliness is that people find it hard to trust one another and treat each other badly. Nobody cares enough to hear someone's problems, no one really listens. People are mostly concerned with their own selfish needs instead of hearing someone out and taking turns sharing their inner troubles. That's the problem with the world. Maybe it's the fast pace environment or maybe people have become fake only caring about what they look like on social media and in person on a superficial level and not caring or working on their inner real image and thoughts. It's sad that sending a heart emoji is considered the peek of emotional connection these days because it take 1 second to do and not effort or time or patience to sit and listen and care.

  22. If two strangers can come together and say "I'll listen to your deepest troubles and problems for 1 hour straight and then you listen to mine for 1 hour after, no one interrupts, we fully listen with no distractions and speak with complete honesty." then there would no longer be loneliness, only new real friendships. But people can even put their phones away for 2 minutes to that will never happen lol

  23. I'm at the point of loneliness where I talk to myself constantly and I sometimes come up with my ideal " best friend " and imagine the amount of fun I'd have if i had real friends.

  24. This was the one video I saw and thought to myself a little while ago “oh I don’t want to watch that cause of the topic it talks about” funny enough my life has taken a turn of events that has led this to being one of the most important to watch. Thank you Kurzgesagt, not only educational and insightful but helping so many people out there who will go through this ♥️

  25. Guys take my advice, it's better to Stick alone 2 yourself, bcuz if ya don't then your new fake friends are just Gonna talk shit to u n try to roast you,bcuz they r help us so f em.

  26. I have absolutely no friends at all, none. I really enjoy like being alone, it gives me a strange feeling I can’t describe and it’s the only time I feel comfortable. I would 100% without a doubt rather spend my life in almost complete solitude than anything else. It does make school annoying due to group activities and things. Actually I just hate school in general.

  27. Very relatable clip. Also glad you included the book references. I would also recommend the book "lost connections" by Johann Hari. It's on the New York Times bestseller list and it gets into how people become depressed and lonely and have anxiety and ways to address the underlying causes rather than meditate the symptoms.

  28. I am an introvert trying to be an extrovert to wave goodbye to loneliness. But the only friend i have is loneliness. So should i stay introvert and be lonely or act extrovert and never say goodbye to loneliness?

  29. People are liars, cheaters, thieves, parasites, ignorant and prone to violent outbursts. I can't wait to get home, so I can be alone.
    Being around people bothers me.
    If it's not business or work related, I try to avoid people.
    I haven't seen, or talked to family, or former friends in years.
    They're all users and once I started saying 'no', they all disappeared.
    Life is better now.
    Being a loner is difficult at times, but all in all, it's working for me.

  30. You know what…. I tried! I tried for the last one year. 90% of my friends suck! They don't give a damn about me. I think I was good when I didn't get to know about my friends. I have tried to call my best friend with whom I've been sharing all my secrets. She said she will call me back but she didn't. I called her again the next day. I got the same reply. Argh!

    Another best friend is not even replying to my messages. Argh! I've been talking with her for the past 5 years!

    So then I tried making new friends. They don't even save my number. That's it. I'm done with the people.

  31. "Reach out to someone today". Haha it's actually 5 minutes to 12 midnight. I don't have enough time so I shall stay lonely forever.

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