The uncool truths on how much do we really need each other
I tried to do a digital detox a few months back, over the weekend. I was roaming the city, scanning through my feelings: waiting for the withdrawal torments, distraction cravings, focus problems, the symptoms of dopamine deprivation. None of that came. The only unusual thing present was the hollow, muffled, dragging feeling of loneliness.
I’m a single, introversive, shy girl who moved cities for years, repeatedly losing social contacts. I was sure I know how loneliness feels. I thought I learned to be fine on my own, defend my borders, and stay by my side. But it turns out that the reason I got addicted to the digital media wasn’t some sneaky dopamine-releasing algorithms incorporated by evil developers. It was the ability to reach out, on any day, at any moment, and feel that somebody is there. It was the feeling of being understood, even if through the fictional stories of random strangers far, far away. It was the hope of having somebody who thinks you matter that was rising with every notification.
What the digital media got us addicted to was the pre-packaged, on-demand, mint-flavored surrogate of human intimacy, available without any risks and pains of actual human interaction. This “somebody is there” feeling is subtle, gentle, covering reality as a soft veil, but take that out — and you will see an independent, self-reliant, ambitious urban professional crumble before your eyes.
Human intimacy in quarantine times
The city I’m roaming in is Milan, Italy. As you can guess, we don’t go out much these days. We maintain our distance, forced to explore another angle of intimacy deprivation — the physical one.
A week had passed. We do sing-alongs from our separate balconies and share stories with strangers in a long supermarket queue, shouting from two meters distance; we share drinks over hours-long video-chats; we leave hand-written notes to neighbors; we flood our social media, documenting each stage of our solitary confinement — an…