Although we live in the XXI century and it seems like millions of people are around, we can suddenly become stricken with a sharp pain of loneliness. But it is important to understand the difference between so close notions as “loneliness” and “being alone”. To be alone means to have no company at the moment, while the meaning of the “loneliness” lies in the fact that it can happen to you anytime, no matter where you are. You can feel lonely even if you are in the middle of one million people crowd, when you are hanging out with your friends or spending time with you family members. Being alone is a fleeting transient notion, while loneliness is one of the harshest feelings people can feel and suffer from. The problem is that loneliness can become a cause of such terrible actions, as suicide, falling into depression or even trying to hurt close people or strangers.
The other harmful side of the problem of loneliness is that it is easy to get into it, but very hard to get rid of. It is especially difficult to lose in case if it has already progressed into deep depression. It is possible to use the drug therapy, but it is not usually effective, if the cause of the depression doesn’t have hormonal or chemical nature.
To my mind, the most effective loneliness treatment is not being indifferent. Medicine is good, but warm words can heal even the most broken and lonely souls. Just look around and see if somebody is longing for your help? Perhaps it’s not that obvious, but the deathly-still scream can be heard only by the most attentive and kind-hearted people.
Loneliness is to be clearly distinguished from solitude as unlike the latter, it is always an un-welcome feeling to which one is subject out of some external or inner compulsion. It is beyond one's contro whereas many persons would occasionally prefer to enjoy solitude, far from the madding crowds.
Man faces increasing incidence of loneliness because of the fast changing social and economic conditions of modern times. It is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Close knit primitive groups eking out a precarious existence by hunting wild animals or eating wild fruits would not experience loneliness as they would always engage collectively in life-supporting activities.
Later settled agricultural communities were land based and had little occasion for feeling lonely as the individuals had strong ties with their families and village communities. They neither were alone neither in their joys nor in their sorrows as both the conditions brought them together for intensifying the joys and reducing the sorrow by sharing.
It is only in industrial societies that loneliness has emerged as a growing phenomenon. A job-seeker has to leave his village and occasionally family to seek livelihood in some factory in a town or in some construction activity away from his home. He is cut off from his familiar environment and has to start his life in a new place. He may not find any friend or relation with whom he can talk or share his problems.
Even the employed have to migrate to other cities in search of better job opportunities and have to undergo periods of loneliness before they build up a circle of friendship in the new places.
Circumstances apart, there are certain individuals who, because of their introverted nature, cannot come out of their shells and interact with their colleagues, neighbours or classmates. They do not take initiative to make advances toward them. They build up a reputation for being cold and indifferent to others so much so that others stop approaching them. Even in time of need, such introverted people cannot make requests to others to help them and thus suffer privation all alone.
Some people are so much preoccupied with their high opinion of themselves that they consider it beneath their dignity to make even formal acquaintance with their neighbours.
They remain absorbed in their own cogitations and thoughts even when they are not actually engaged in some work. But they forget that they are also social beings and need other's approval for maintaining self-esteem or positive image of themselves.
In modern society, most people work in organisations and occupy a certain position in the organisational hierarchy. Those at the top position of their organisation tend to consider themselves top even among their relations and neighbours.
They cannot shake off their rank even in non-organisational environment. Whenever they interact with oth- : ers, they are condescending and patronising. Others naturally resent this behaviour as ' they may also be occupying significant or important positions in their organisations.
Since at the very top, there is only one position in the organisation, the top man feels quite lonely. Unless he makes effort to win over others, he is likely to be isolated, his | organisational subordinates may hesitate in mixing with him for fear of annoying him particularly if he is a man of fixed notions.
Loneliness may often grow out of some psychological compulsions. A person may suffer from an inferiority complex that he is unwanted or unloved. He will naturally avoid routine contact with others for fear of being repulsed or rebuffed.
He will feel secure only I when he is alone. But this security is at a great cost. He, who cannot enjoy company, cannot enjoy real happiness which consists mostly in interaction with others or in getting appreciation or approval from others.
Just as a person who has seen death from close quarters finds the true meaning of life, similarly a person, who has undergone the experience of loneliness for a substantial time, keenly feels the joy of social interaction. Such a person realises the true dimension of security and relaxation, one experience in the company of one's family members or dear friends. Experience of loneliness strengthens the social ties and converts even loners into sociable beings.