In this fast-paced, technological world that we live in, it is astounding to think of just how many people and different organizations we interact with during the course of a single day.
From receiving regular emails and mobile phone calls, following trends on Twitter and watching out for the latest news posts place on Facebook – each of which requires some personal response from us, the list of connections that we make can run into the hundreds.
Given all this high level of social interactivity why is it that we are increasingly open to consecutive periods of loneliness and isolation?
A Social Phenomenon
In her book Stop Being Lonely certified relationship coach, Kira Asatryan investigates the growing epidemic of loneliness in a world of increasingly close social connections.
Asatryan argues that whilst it has always been a problem for some, the nature of loneliness and social exclusion is changing and has been for a couple of decades.
She argues that the problem is
….not a lack of people; it’s a lack of feeling. Specifically, the lack of one particular feeling: that of closeness.
Asatryan defines closeness as …the experience of having direct access to another person’s world. whicj means that the sense of closeness that we experience with another person is created through understanding their thoughts, feelings, preferences and experiences.
The key to attaining this deeper sense of connection is through caring.
So why exactly is loneliness on the increase?
Asatryan argues that is a direct consequence of our changing work and social environments.
Changes to social patterns such as home-working, remote offices and other solitary working environments have been a major cause in creating isolating circumstances but the author maintains that is essentially our modern communication devices – which act as intermediaries between ourselves and other people, that is the main problem.
Not only are phones responsible for the disconnection that we feel from others but so are the multitude of social-networking apps that are available for mobile devices.
Solutions to the Problem
Asatryan argues that in tackling this new form of tech-induced loneliness we need to consider radical new solutions – the old beliefs that were once felt to be the antidote to loneliness; those of love, family and friends connections are no longer working.
Once again, the author suggests that it is closeness and caring that are the opportunities we have to revolutionize our relationships.
The way to attain this is through recognizing the needs of others and the values that they uphold.
Asatryan refers to this process of engagement as ‘listening to another person’s narrative’. Processes that aid in making this happen include talking about the future, discussing the past and understanding the unique perspective that another person holds regarding their present circumstances.
The Art of Caring
Part three of ‘Stop Being Lonely’ deals specifically with how the reader can master and perfect the all-important art of caring.
This, the author states, is developed as a result of recognizing other people’s feelings. To this end she identifies four emotional states; mad, glad, sad and afraid – all of which offer insights into your partner and the sort of relationship that you have with them.
The reader is reminded, though, that a relationship is an entity that is quite separate from its two participants. Treated with equal degrees of respect by each party the relationship construct can act as a good way of connecting two or more people closely whilst at the same time allowing all sides to keep their sense of personal space and independence.
Culture of Closeness
Asatryan closes her book with a look at closeness. She recommends a number of approaches towards strengthening closeness to loved ones, friends and families; practices that includes personalized rituals, changes in the use of language and the mutual recognition of key symbolic elements in each others lives.
In concluding her book on loneliness the author suggests that our ability to cure it in our own lives is ultimately derived from being able to enter into a condition of closer contact with ourselves, with our inner world’s and by generating our own narrative.
As she observes
You are a precious, valuable human …. And loneliness is a problem that exists, out there in the world. It is not a personality trait.
Technology has changed our world for the better in many regards but it has, at the same time, been responsible for creating new social problems – those of loneliness and isolation being the most understated and poorly evaluated of them all.
In her book Asatryan tackles the subject face on and in an incisive and insightful commentary on our reliance of technology to compensate for the lack of human connectedness to others that we often feel, she offers some astute advice.
For those who seek love as a cure for loneliness believing it to be the panacea or antidote this book will come as a surprise. Whilst love has its place it is not sufficient or even applicable in some circumstances. What is heeded us a good old-fashioned dose of that one quality fast disappearing from our society – caring.
This is book that turns back time and reminds us of an age when old fashioned human values were taught and handed down through successive generations. However, this is not a book full of rose-tinted perspectives and myopic myths. It is very contemporary with todays world and offers some extraordinary insights into the human psyche, its needs and modes of operation.
The inclusion of practical advice, exercises and tips makes this a book with a real punch to it – one that is full of surprises and clever insights backup up with scientific data.
In Stop Being Lonely Kira Asatryan has produced a first-class commentary on a modern social disease which needs careful evaluation and understanding. In a book that rattles along in a deeply, entertaining and information way it is a thoroughly thought-provoking and personalized experience that reveals not only the root cause of a growing social malaise but also offers powerful, self-transforming concepts for those brave enough to tackle the growing universal problems of loneliness and isolation.