192 points by fern12 a year ago
I can't prioritize it now, but I predict a team of people who go around doing "social extraction"... Pulling people out of isolation into loving communities. Consensually of course.
I just think everyone is inherently beautiful, even those who have gotten stuck in solitary loops, and lost the ability to connect. I see someone like that as unrealized value... Like a stunted tree growing in the shade, or in dry soil. There's plenty of sun and water for everyone. Well, metaphorically. In social connection, each person you add multiplies those life giving resources.
I don't think that would really work. When you dive a lot into loneliness, you begin to create your own world with your own habits and not so usual interests. Been there myself, now having actually somehow connections to such communities, I realize how hard it is to find common ground, to actually integrate and eventually form friendships.
The article suggests some points how to transform yourself, so connections form automatically. Of course you must have some day to day interaction with other people.
> When you dive a lot into loneliness, you begin to create your own world with your own habits and not so usual interests.
Not sure this generalizes.
For what it's worth, I'm seeing it develop for myself at the moment.
There's already "people walking" services for getting social time - https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/14/los-angeles-...
One of my side hobbies is writing short stories. Just for myself, "just" to keep creativity going.
I'm currently on an AI/Human relations kick. I hadn't considered "people walking" as something to use, so thanks.
A service won't work, it can't be for profit. It could provide an advertising channel though.
Man, this one really hit close to home for me. There was a time a few years ago when I realized every friend I had in the world was a co-worker. When I left my job a few years back, I lost almost all of them. We'd try to stay close, but it never worked very well. Everyone, myself included was just too busy.
The funny thing is I have a wife and four kids so I am never alone, but painfully lonely.
It seems like church/organized religion is a useful channel for connecting people outside work. I'm not a zealot or believer by any means but the times I tagged along to Catholic services I was impressed the most by the post-service socializing and general connectedness of the churchgoers.
Communities form because of shared interest. Churches become communities because of shared beliefs. Having a worldview perspective in common is perhaps the most powerful way for people to be united.
Remove religion to create a church-like experience and you have nothing to hold people together.
Also worth noting that in most churches people have a reason greater than their own selfish interests in socializing to hold them together.
The obvious counter example is UU, which doesn't necessarily share beliefs other than a kind of social responsibility to do charitable work.
Unfortunately the median age in UU seems to be about 80. I'm not sure 20-somethings looking for community are going to find it among grandparents.
When I've attended services, and for a while I was one of 5 people between ages 12 and 45 at one particular UU church, I heard it said that if UUs could better their retention rate they'd have very serious growth.
I feel there's a really enormous market for this kind of non-religious gathering. And not centered in any particular activity either: when people lack religion they usually go for hobbies/sports, but that's an entirely different affair that doesn't necessarily relieve loneliness (especially if it is competitive, 1v1 or solo). Not everyone has the necessary skill for a hobby, the necessary funds, etc.
What we really crave is a place for discussing ethics, morals and general life guidelines.
Church has many interesting properties that have been abandoned (due to obsolescence of the content, but not the form!): you can be just a passive observer in Church. You're with other people, which generally act supportively in this environment, and you can just be there amongst others without speaking, only hearing both comforting and hopefully useful ethical guidelines. You're hearing that you're loved and that everyone should love eachother -- which is usually true in the first case, and generally accepted in the latter -- but sometimes a reminder is really due.
Then if you have a problem you don't feel like sharing with anyone else, you have this guy, the priest, which has essentially a confidentiality agreement that you can safely tell him whatever. If you have a problem you can ask for guidance. The priest can usually pull some strings to get other churchgoers to assist you if necessary too (especially easy but important things like emotional support).
What we have today as non-religious individuals are for the most part psychologists, which have many issues:
-- You don't get the participation feel from joining a large group of people, and interacting with the ones you are interested in that group;
-- They tend to view your problems as disorders, when sometimes all you need is the presence of a group of people for alleviating light emotional distress;
-- They don't feel too confident giving advice, and they probably shouldn't, since they may not have experience with your situation (whereas some churchgoers might);
and very important:
-- They are expensive, while church is completely free.
In a web jargon, psychologists don't scale very well. Suppose everybody went to see a psychologist, and each psychologist had 10 patients. Then at least 10% of the population needs to be psychologists. Instead you could get k -- a lot better than 1 -- mutual confidants by connecting with a k person subgroup out of a larger meeting. And when you can't find a suitable subgroup, you have a speaker giving general advice for a very large number of people.
We need non-religious churches.
Here's an example of that:
I've never gone, but I've thought about it.
Church of England or the Unitarians might be non-religious enough for you?
(I'm not a Christian, so can't say too much.)
From what I've read, Church of England is definitely a religious organization. Unitarianism however seems largely non-religious, but still might not be ideal due to still being rooted in catholic dogma and morals -- it is still classified as a "Christian theological movement".
Word on the street is that half of the Church of England's priests are closet-agnostics. Or at least it's close enough to true that this is a common quip.
If you want something that's certified to be Christian-free, you might want to look up the humanist branches of the Freemasons. Or some of the humanist Quakers.
Or just pick any random hobby like swing dancing for a community around it.
This is like trying to replicate the positive experience of a baseball fan by removing baseball from the equation and having people watch hopscotch in giant stadiums. The religious experience is a lot more than ethics, morals, and general life guidelines.
It is, but I'm not trying to replicate religious experience at all. In particular I don't care about mysticism, regardless of the range of emotions it evokes.
You're describing a counselor there I believe, you'd really be wasting your money by going to a psychologist just to talk things over or vent. Psychologist would be a good choice if you have a specific issue (preferably on the referral of your GP) you need to treat, namely problematic behaviors or thoughts. Ultimately a clinical psychologist is trained in disorders and treatments, not life advice.
There's a good site for this kind of thing though, if someone just wants to talk something over - https://www.7cups.com/. Not a group thing like church, but a pretty good stop gap until something better comes along I suppose.
There is also https://www.theschooloflife.com/.
> They are expensive
In some countries. In other they're free.
Weak become heros / and the stars align...
I have noticed that too. Churchgoers have an instant network wherever they go. I am not a believer but that's a nice trait. I don't know of anything else that can be compared.
Pretty much any popular group activity fits that pattern. I play basketball and hack on Python, and both have been excellent ways to meet interesting people in new towns. It helps (with basketball at least) to be good, but mostly you just have to be a friendly person and go hang out at the gym/Meetup.
AA. Which is basically church. :)
> The funny thing is I have a wife and four kids so I am never alone, but painfully lonely.
Not to be rude, but how can that be ? Isn't your wife supposed to be your best/closest friend ?
I'm a loner myself and have no experience with relationships so I have no idea what it's like to be in one but you make it sound kind of pointless.
> Not to be rude, but how can that be ? Isn't your wife supposed to be your best/closest friend ?
A partner is different than a friend. I have wonderful times with my girlfriend and I love hanging out with her. But I can't bitch to my girlfriend about how my girlfriend drives me up the wall when she leaves her crap everywhere, or how annoying it is when her allergies act up and the constant sniffling makes me want to claw my brains out.
Bitching/venting about your partner is important, you need friends for that.
My girlfriend will also never understand just why it's so important to be the fastest out of a random group of guys down a hill on a bike or akateboard. Yeah it's dangerous and dumb but I can't let the other fuckers beat me in a pointless competition now can I?
Need guy friends to do atupid guy things. Women don't get it.
> Isn't your wife supposed to be your best/closest friend?
No, although that's a common misconception; it can turn out that way, but rarely does, and there's nothing of necessity wrong with a relationship in which it does not.
I was married myself for about a decade, and also painfully lonely through most of it despite being nearly never physically alone. I've operated under the impression that this had to do with the abusive nature of that relationship, and wasn't representative of any general case. Now I'm starting to wonder if I might not have been wrong about that. Certainly I still hesitate to draw any kind of general conclusion from my own experience of marriage - but I'm hearing a lot more lately from men whose experiences in this regard are similar, despite their relationships generally not appearing to be so.
Just to provide a counter anecdote. My wife is very definitely my best and closest friend.
Then why have a relationship at all ?
Well, for one thing, it's the best model our society makes available for raising and supporting kids. That's not to say it is necessarily a very good model, but I think if you have to choose between your kids growing up with their parents in a stable and functional, if not especially warm or happy, relationship on the one hand, and your kids growing up with divorced parents on the other, it's very hard to find any way to justify the latter choice on the basis of their welfare.
Quite aside from that, though, I'm still not seeing any reason to assume that relationships in general exhibit this problem - only that it's not quite as uncommon as the highly atypical nature of my own experience led me to surmise.
(Or what I hope to be the highly atypical nature, anyway. If marriages like mine are anything except vanishingly uncommon, that's a serious problem. There are so many improbable circumstances around the way mine started that I've seen no reason to assume many similar relationships exist - but on reflection it occurs to me that I've failed to account for the possibility of stochastic convergence.)
> Well, for one thing, it's the best model our society makes available for raising and supporting kids.
You're not required to have kids.
I guess what I'm trying to figure out is why even start a relationship if you don't get anything out of it. Never mind getting to the point where you start producing kids.
> You're not required to have kids.
No, but a lot of people want to. (A lot of people have kids without the formality of a relationship, too, but that's a whole 'nother kind of problem.)
I guess I'd say that for most people there are a lot of reasons to want to be in a relationship - good reasons and bad ones alike. With rare exception, nobody goes into a relationship expecting that it won't improve their life in some way, and if you're not seeing what you might get out of one, then I can't see any reason why you should start one.
It seems like a lot of people do eventually discover that they don't get out of a given relationship what they hoped they might, or what they previously did - but that's also a whole 'nother kind of problem, and because it often involves strongly felt responsibilities to people other than oneself, a kind that is rarely easy to solve even if there's no clear way to incrementally improve upon the status quo.
I don't think I've done a very good job explaining it here, but I'm not sure how I might do a better one.
Or most people don't put as much into a relationship as it would take to realize their goal? When you marry or have kids with someone, that someone is supposed to be your first priority in life. It's kind of like thinking about religious service, but not necessarily including that spiritual edge to matrimony. Kids aren't that first priority, because kids need both parents to be fulfilled, and the couple is supposed to be those who best fulfill each other. Your plan of marriage shouldn't be centered on what you'll get out of it, but what your significant other will get of it, because you are specially positioned to be that provider of happiness and comfort and vice-versa. Live for the other and your own happiness is reciprocally secured.
That's the ideal, sure. It doesn't reliably work out that way even for those couples who go into it with exactly the intent you describe, though, and it only takes one to defect - although I agree that both often do.
Because sometimes you just can't help it, or very difficult not to.
I don't see how.
Relationship can be exciting, it can be incredibly difficult to resist.
To be fair, that would be getting something out of it.
Some of my most well-adjusted friends have split parents, who were happy alone. A couple staying together, unhappily, "for the kids" seems much more toxic to me. But this is anecdata, YMMV.
>> The funny thing is I have a wife and four kids so I am never alone, but painfully lonely.
> Not to be rude, but how can that be ?
I have heard this many times. A marriage can be lonely. A wife can also be your best friend. Chances are, you will feel both throughout the same marriage.
The same is true of friendship too. I have felt close and far away, pleased and angry, with the same friend at different times. That's how all relationships are. They are living things. They can be one thing one day, and different the next, all depending on what each of you do.
We seem to think that success in a relationship depends mostly on choosing the right person at the outset, and then the rest is automatic. If we choose the right person, a lifetime of effortless happiness. If we choose the wrong one, a lifetime of grief no matter how hard we try.
The truth is that relationships, like all living things, must be daily cultivated, by each of you. You can do everything right, but if the other person chooses to do bad things, the relationship will sour. That's the beauty and the terror of independent wills.
This is basically me in a couple of decades. 8 months ago I moved out to Denver and made an uncomfortable realization - I haven't made friends since high school and I have no idea how to make friends. I tried Meetup and other random social gatherings without making any meaningful connections and then I just quit making any effort. I've since slipped into not caring and getting comfortable being alone most of the time here. The only social interaction I have is when I visit office once a few months (I work remote) or go back to my hometown. I used to hate it, now I enjoy it but it makes me wonder what will come of it when I'm much older. In the back of my mind I'm thinking I should quit my remote job (which I love) and find something local or move back. Thank God for the great outdoors and coffee shops in the meantime lol
May I offer a suggestion?
Try enrolling in a martial arts course.
You can surely find something that fits your own preferences in terms of "intensity" and it might get you in touch with people.
I totally agree with this. I enrolled in martial arts one year after moving to a new city, and they've become a great circle of friends. The camaraderie you build with martial arts folks is a special one.
Similarly, a sports team or another group engaged in relatively challenging physical activities (such as hiking and backpacking, especially in CO this would be a lot of fun).
I actually have a buddy who's into Tai Chi and also recommended this to me as a way to meet new people when i first came out here. This completely escaped me since. Thanks for the suggestion!
Hey, put an email to contact you with in your bio page. I'd have emailed you to hang, but there is nothing to contact you by.
Hey, Thanks for the offer! I just updated my bio with email.
I've been feeling the same way since moving to Portland... been here a year and my closest friends here are still the 2 guys that I went to college with who happen to be local.
I've also been thinking of taking a martial arts courses, but am also looking at local community groups like Neighborhood Emergency Teams for emergency management.
I moved to Portland a few years ago as well and also don't know too many people here. Let's hang out! My profile should be showing my email.
I do work in a team but don't like to mix work and real friends. I am thinking about working at a coffee place or bar just for fun and social interaction. The money is ridiculous still I think I would enjoy it a lot more. Anyone doing something similar?
Would your job consider paying for a coworking space? I found it helpful for meeting new people in a new town while working remotely.
For anyone interested in (or worried about) this I strongly suggest to read A Philosophy of Loneliness by Lars Svendsen.
This book analyzes loneliness (and solitude, the more positive counterpart) to a great detail, and offers some constructive and positive suggestions on how to transform the former into the latter.
What I found most interesting was how the essay explores the different meanings of loneliness. I don't think of myself as a lonely person because I've been living with people all my life.
It's hard to admit but I don't have anybody I'd consider a close friend. Saying this might hurt the people I'm close to, and sure it's all a matter of degree. But still I find myself trapped in the "no emotion" zone I've grown into. And getting out of this is hard, particularly when I must assume that the people around me have been similarly socialized.
Start slow. Pick a friend you want to get to know better, share some light shared domain related concern or fear with them (work related, hobby related, etc), and see how it is received. If they are empathetic and supportive then you can open up more over time as you build trust. If they aren't serious or brush you off then you haven't really lost much social capital and you can move on to someone else.
I really wish for a news source that published articles on topics such as these that forewent the overwritten "few paragraphs on a quirky introduction, obligatory 'case study' anecdote referenced throughout, etc" article recipe and just stuck with the relevant statistics and a brief commentary for the author's thoughts on the topic.
I suppose I should've been around for /.'s heyday, it seems like that was its thing.
You seem to misunderstand, this was an essay, not a news article.
It's meant to be written in long form and inform, but not necessarily about anything as immediate as what you'd consider news.
Yeah, what surprises me is that it seems there are a substantial group of us that would consume such a product, but no one has really delivered. I think the market is ripe.
Would you be interested in editing this essay down to the article you're proposing?
Not particularly, even though somehow even being asked caused a slight twinge of guilt in me. To be honest I didn't even read the article till after I made that comment, as I was mostly replying to the other commenter on a much more general subject than this particular article. It's a subject I've thought about quite a bit actually, so seeing the GP comment I replied on that basis.
For example, I think the twitterization of information has been bad in the sense that it reduces information in it's deepness, I think part of the reason for the success of twitter is that in the modern age we have more and more things competing for our attention, and therefor less time to dedicate to various pursuits. Twitter answered this problem by placing a hard limit on characters... which reduced time needed to consume, but failed to provide mechanisms that provided good content, in favor of short content.
The tldr being a better form that fills this niche, perhaps, would be the kind of thing that would assist those of us who value content quality but still don't want to spend too much time on something that is of unknown quality. Medium did something interesting in this regard by giving readers time to read estimates. They still lack quality indicators, as do most information outlets. Some of my ideas for solutions would be machine ratings of strength of logic, or argument-map generation. So I'm coming at the issue in a more abstract way.
All that said, and despite my original no, I will give my version of the tldr.
Loneliness is an issue that seems to disproportionately affect men, but it shouldn't be confused with social isolation. One can feel isolated and lonely despite social connectedness. For the most part it boils down to a lack of trust, and therefore intimacy in conversation and other actions which are failing to meet emotional needs of men. While most indicators show that a relationship such as marriage often meets the emotional needs through a partner, they also show that once in a relationship where emotional needs are met social isolation increases. Hope is not lost though, there are techniques that can be used, such as reframing or CBT, to help lonely people get out of that rut, and much of it will need to be not just singular but cultural. If you're lonely, just know you aren't the only one, and the situation can improve, and knowing others often feel the same way despite hiding it (like you hide yourself) is likely to be a threshold that can help you overcome the fear needed to make the positive moves needed to progress.
Slightly off-topic, but I wonder how much the chilling-effect of the surveillance society has increased this loneliness due to lack of trust (perhaps of the medium and not of the person on the other end).
We have a small group of men, mostly ex colleagues from different IT contracts that kind of acts as like a support group doing simple things like going to a driving range or bouldering or beers in London.
Drop me a line if you'd like to join sometime.
I have found great friendships at various contracting gigs. In fact most of my best friends are ex-colleagues. It's worked out really well to be honest.
Read the book "Who to win friends and influence people". This is not only a sales bible but a book that shows how to actually connect with people. Kind of lengthy read but I can really recommend it.
I read it, and it's full of platitudes. Useful platitudes, to be sure -- if the book is a revelation to the reader, the reader probably did well to pick it up.
Nevertheless, this is not the stuff that helps create the kind of deeper - vulnerable - connections that are stressed in the article.
>Nevertheless, this is not the stuff that helps create the
>kind of deeper - vulnerable - connections that are stressed
>in the article.
No probably not. That would be really surprising also. I can really imagine this guy who wrote it, an ancient American business man - he's surely not into that kind of stuff. Anyways, it's a start ;)
Great suggestion! Here a more about this great book by Dale Carnegie https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influ...
We need to begin to discuss the issues that affect men in greater proportion, like solitude and suicide. I applaud the existence of this article. Thanks for posting it.
If you want to discuss and/or fight those issues, try to find your local mens rights group. they are well connected and can offer advice on those topics.
The throngs of support for your position here speak volumes.
It's a touchy topic and I imagine people feel less comfortable discussing it than for example the latest Uber scandal.
As a feminist, I think it's important to recognize that patriarchy hurts both men and women with its pigeonholed stereotypes. There are unfortunately people who try to hijack this to push their agenda that men's problems are more important than women's problems, which complicates things. But yes, in allowing women to be strong and independent, I think we also must allow men to be weak and to ask for help if they need it.
Agreed, which is why I think patriarchy is a bad term for communicating with conservatives or people who aren't used to feminist discourse. I prefer "gender roles".
reddit.com/r/Menslib is a good subreddit on these issues
Really, "patriarchy" as a term probably shouldn't be used at all if you want to have a serious discussion about Western culture.
Patriarchy is a model whose name alone understandably offends and antagonizes an entire gender. It is clear that the people backing the model will not be effective in helping men because they are either ignorant about or do not care about the feelings of men.
> There are unfortunately people who try to hijack this to push their agenda
Hypocritically, you're using the topic to push your own agenda here. Which further shows how adopting the patriachy model will not help.
Patriarchy is a model whose name alone...
Hearing the name doesn't make you an expert. The world isn't so systematic; history and context matter. There's quite a lot of study and learning to absorb if you're inclined, but this is a stunning demonstration of arrogance from ignorance, and I can't understand why anyone would want to demonstrate that. "Boi."
You're right! History and context do matter. In this case, there's a lot of history and context around the form of argument from patriarchy in spaces where men are discussing the issues that affect us. Very little of that history or context suggests that entertaining such arguments, in such spaces, is at all helpful in finding effective ways to improve men's lives or ameliorate men's suffering.
What you're doing is, though, very effective as a derailing tactic, although I have to say you're really going above and beyond with the contempt you add to it. What are you trying to accomplish, this way? What do you imagine that you're helping? What you've said here, and the way in which you've said it, does nothing to convince anyone that the conceptual schema you advocate has any genuine value - indeed, quite the opposite. Yet this nonetheless is what you chose to say, and how you chose to say it. Why?
...there's a lot of history and context around the form of argument from patriarchy in spaces where men are discussing the issues that affect us.
There is not. This is a shortcoming born of inexperience and youth. Your context is too small, you're not perceiving things at any scale much beyond your own few personal experiences.
I have to say you're really going above and beyond with the contempt you add to it. What are you trying to accomplish, this way?
You pretend to be so reasonable, but this is tone policing, a logical fallacy, a thought-terminating cliche.
Your position is contemptible and no one owes you good manners over it. Do better. Step up your game. Make an actual argument to persuade me - to persuade anyone - that you actually have a clue what you're talking about.
...said someone who resorted to ad hominem and then complained about "tone policing", because just chucking random insults at one's interlocutors qualifies as good-faith discussion, but calling out those insults as such is unreasonable. Okay.
"Patriarchy is a model whose name alone..." is ad hominem. Tone policing ("...you're really going above and beyond with the contempt...") is ad hominem. In the sense that both shift focus to the speaker rather than the subject.
Pointing out that neither of those things are valid arguments is not ad hominem.
I haven't insulted you; pointing out that you're ignorant and inexperienced is giving you the benefit of the doubt. Those things are curable.
Personal attacks, name-calling, and flamewars will get your account banned here. Please don't post like this again.
I'll try, I guess.
Respectfully suggest you consider the root comment here with these guidelines ("name-calling") in mind.
Four days and you're still on this? Four days and this is the best you can bring?
Would you please not engage in petty spats, flamewars, or incivility on Hacker News?
Yeah, I know better. I'll bear it more firmly in mind going forward. In the meantime, sorry to've put you to the trouble.
Did you miss that I agreed with
aurelianito? That I said, yes, absolutely, there needs to be attention paid to men's issues?
I'm baffled what people are finding offensive enough to downvote here. Did you see the words "feminist" and "patriarchy" and stop reading?
I haven't voted in this article either way, but my take on why people might be downvoting you are twofold:
1) You've come into a thread that is specifically looking at men's problems, and made it about feminism and your own highly female-oriented viewpoints: "As a feminist", the (justifiable) fear that people make this out as "men's problems are more important than women's problems", "allowing women to be strong and independent, I think we also must allow men to be weak and to ask for help if they need it.".
If people came into a thread about sexism in the work place and explained an opinion with similar words with flipped gender, they would be criticised.
2) For the worse, the terms you pick out yourself have been coopted by an unfortunate group who use them to push their own agenda, who go around with mugs marked "Male Tears", gleeful in the support of a minority of people abusing the term and the quiet tolerance of many more. They don't represent feminism or progressive values. But they do use the words most loudly, and that develops unfortunate connotations.
Overall, your points may be valid, but your expression of them alienates the people this article is about and addresses.
Thanks for the response. What I was trying to convey is that I agree with Aurelianito. There does need to be attention paid to men's issues. I framed it the way I did because I think this is often portrayed as an anti-feminist argument, by people on both sides, and I disagree with them; I think it's important for feminists to care about men's issues, and it's important for feminists to say that precisely because of the people you mention in #2, to counterbalance them and demonstrate that they don't speak for all of us.
But some people don't want to see a reasonable counterbalance. They see a word they don't like and downvote without reading; they actually get angry when others fail to live down to their stereotypes. Going in the other direction, I've seen liberal feminists get confused and angry when they meet a conservative who supports GLBT rights. It makes people uncomfortable when folks don't stay in their pigeonholes. It's frustrating.
See, though, this is the thing. It's great that you're not being all "lol male tears", have a cookie, but you're putting a lot more effort into defending your conception of feminism, and into drawing a distinction between yourself and "lol male tears" and making sure we all know you're not like that, than into addressing the topic at hand. That's what is getting you downvoted, not some imaginary knee-jerk reaction to a word.
It's not accepted to derail a women-centered discussion with "but patriarchy hurts men too!"; why do you expect anything less in derailing a men-centered discussion with "but feminism is for men too!"? Granted you're not being That Guy in the usual direction. But you're no less being That Guy for it. Maybe consider not being That Guy.
I downvoted because I _knew_ the words patriarchy and feminism would derail the conversation and hoped to bury your post before it could.
Just like it's annoying for someone to chime in with "what about men's XYZ!" in a conversation explicitly about women, it's annoying for the inverse to happen.
While you're 100% right and gender roles (patriarchy) mean we're actually having the same conversation I would love to be able to have those two conversations independently without descending in to whattaboutism and explicitly gendered language.
I actually didn't downvote you, but I found your comment mildly offensive with respect to this topic because of the line
> But yes, in allowing women to be strong and independent, I think we also must allow men to be weak and to ask for help if they need it.
Men have this problem precisely because they are "strong and independent". Not pressuring men to work constantly to the point of isolation is not the same as "allowing men to be weak".
The root epidemics is of people only focusing on themselves.
Do voluntary jobs with sick and old people. Replacing your problems with other people's problems makes you think better.
Yeah - I was just thinking "jeez all these people sure like talking about themselves" while scrolling through this thread. Self focus is a great way to push people away and a terrible way to be happy.
I appreciate the attempt; but I feel like "boys don't cry enough" (sorry, I know this is oversimplified) is the wrong place to look. The reason why I think this is the case, is that loneliness has been increasing while it has become more socially acceptable for boys and men to be open about their emotions. I have never, in my life as a boy and (hopefully) now a man, been told unironically that boys and men shouldn't cry, or that I in particular shouldn't cry. I don't think it would have any effect on my behaviour.
From my perspective it really must be something else.
Anecdotally I am a very lonely person right now. For the last six months or so, I could be described as about a 32 on the UCLA scale. I am nonetheless a very emotionally open person. I address emotional problems honestly, it just seems that I can not address loneliness the same way.
I think the activity that is required to build deep friendships, is to attempt to build many shallow ones, and see who sticks around. That has had the most success for me. I think the final bit of motivation for this is the research on health outcomes (though, granted, it could be a bit biased since unhealthy people are also more likely to be lonely).
Also regarding “But to paraphrase University of Missouri researchers Barbara Bank and Suzanne Hansford, men have power, but are not well.”; I don't know what on earth they are talking about. What power do men have? Surely some men are powerful, and there are more powerful men than powerful women, but men as a whole are not powerful in any way I could recognize (in NA).
Regarding “A man should never reveal worries to others.”, I think this is more a statement of strategic fact than an opinion. Nobody cares about men, especially not other men; so unless you have good reason to believe you will be helped rather than exploited, showing vulnerability to others is strategically suicidal.
As for the “no homo” stuff, it is essential. If you can't tell whether somebody is trying to befriend you or seduce you , you can not be at ease; you can't tell if you're just being a good friend, or leading them on. This connects directly with the later mention of "A lot of men don’t cultivate emotional intimacy when they are not in partnership with a significant other.". When you are in a relationship, making friends becomes more straightforward, since more variables are known to both parties.
Maybe I should go get coffee with Steven, we share a city after all.
i know a thing or two about loneliness. there have been periods of my life during which, i am now sure, i experienced some of the deepest loneliness that a person might ever experience outside of being marooned on a small island.
i guess i wont go into detail but i was completely alone for four years. during that time i developed mental health problems and negative habits that, at the time, i did not realize were due to loneliness. this was compounded by super bad stress from other things in my life. i reached profoundly low states of mental well-being -- looking back i actually am astonished. there is no doubt in my mind that whatever i encounter later in terms of loneliness, it will never come close to that.
after four years i met a girl and we lived together for another three years. the article hits the nail on the head about married couples -- having an so is the number one solution for loneliness. it turned my whole situation around and has left me off much better even though the relationship came to a sad end. if any of you guys are stuck being super lonely, i would recommend getting a girlfriend no matter the cost. also, i would recommend taking a complete multivitamin. something in those things makes my depression a lot better. good luck.
I can't really go along here. Sure, getting into a relationship with someone who's reasonably compatible with you will do a lot to ameliorate loneliness. But getting into a relationship "no matter the cost" is not a good way to find someone reasonably compatible with yourself, and being distracted from feeling lonely by the many other problems such a person can bring is not really the same as no longer feeling lonely. You just end up lonely and miserable.
Counterpoint: the only time I ever felt really lonely was during my first marriage. Being married to the wrong person can be lonelier than being alone.
On the subject of vitamins, I've found fish oil seems to improve mood, if one has an otherwise fish-free diet.
> i guess i wont go into detail but i was completely alone for four years.
As someone who craves solitude, how did you manage this ? I can't even go a day without seeing another human being, let alone 4 years. How do you get food, income, housing ?
I'm sure you can get a few tips from this guy:
I wish. I live in a small and very densely populated country. There is no woodland or anything even resembling it here.
while close friendships increase your longevity by up to 22 percent
Any anyone find the reference for this in the linked study.
The PDF is quite long and my CTRL-F Fu is failing me.
It cites http://jech.bmj.com/content/59/7/574
Quoting the abstract:
Main results: After controlling for a range of demographic, health, and lifestyle variables, greater networks with friends were protective against mortality in the 10 year follow up period. The hazard ratio for participants in the highest tertile of friends networks compared with participants in the lowest group was 0.78 (95%CI 0.65 to 0.92)
I assume that 0.78 is where the 100-78 = 22 % number comes from? (Although it doesn't really match the phrasing "increases your longevity by up to", it seems to be the closest?)
Yeah, it's sad. But I just find relations with people exhausting and disappointing. Romantic relationships and careers use you up, not build you up. They are about what other people can get from you and rarely the reverse. I think I prefer animals.
I thought I was a sociopath but I think you've got me beat.
As a writer I enjoy very much says, you're not a sociopath, just a garden-variety narcissist.
Another related submission that includes also pointers to support groups: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15002351
It’s good that this issue is being addressed, but I wish there was an equal amount of attention for people like me with the opposite problem: too much social interaction and no way to escape it.
I've felt that way at times. I no longer do, and don't expect I will again. I didn't realize how well off I was. Is it possible you don't, too?
Is this... a thing?
Surely you can escape it by just not going?
I have to go to work to have an income, I have to go to a supermarket to get food. You can’t even order stuff online without getting a mailman at the door.
I would be fine if I could limiti it to a couple of hours of human contact a month, but society forces me to have social interactions all day every day. It’s making me seriously depressed and super anxious.
That's a different thing from what it sounded like when I wrote my earlier comment.
I can see not wanting to go outside but not even seeing a mailman (was going to suggest grocery delivering)? Not sure there's anything you can do - even remote working requires some interaction with people.
I don't think social interaction is making you anxious; instead your anxiety causes you to construct a model of reality where social interactions are bad.
You need to imagine your life from a third-person perspective, and realize that the way you feel resides entirely within your own brain, and is mutable.
When you look at the world, you're seeing a stream of photons. Photons transport light, not emotion.
> I don't think social interaction is making you anxious; instead your anxiety causes you to construct a model of reality where social interactions are bad.
Imagine having a live grenade in your pocket. The grenade is just powerful enough to seriously hurt you but not kill you. It's also unstable and will randomly go off once or twice a year (and will be replaced with a new one when it does). Now imagine if you were required to carry this grenade around every time you have to interact with humans.
This is similar to what social interaction feels like to me. I am autistic and have trouble with nonverbal communication and reading between the lines. Any and all social interactions can lead to this 'grenade' exploding in my face. It can be something relatively harmless as being embarrassed or people getting angry with me to the point where I almost got into legal trouble for following instructions that were 'obviously' not supposed to be followed literally.
Next to that, it's also super exhausting because none of it comes natural to me. If you want to walk to the other side of the room, you just will it and your legs move. Imagine if you couldn't do that and had to consciously tense and release each muscle in your legs to walk. Social interaction is like that to me. Everything is a conscious action, from trying to fake eye contact (and for how long), to posture, to choosing my words, to watching the other person's face/body and trying to figure out what that is saying.
And last but not least, none of it is rewarding to me. When a 'normal' person has social interactions, this is supposedly pleasurable for them, which motivates them to seek it out and take risks while doing so. None of that works for me.
I don't think it's strange that something that is exhausting, randomly hurtful and not in any way rewarding causes me anxiety. Having to do that 8 hours a day, just to be able to afford food and a roof over my head makes it even worse.
Clearly you have a solid understanding of the English language. Have you ever tried expressing your thoughts (provided that you can avoid being offensive) to someone in person? Like if the mailman is trying to make conversation, say "Sorry, I'm terrible at social stuff." If you follow directions too literally, say "Sorry, I'm a bit autistic." If you're really embarrassed, say "That was so embarrassing."
Talking about your inner experience gives you something to talk about, and leaves the other person with a better understanding of the situation.
I'm not actually sure if these are good ideas (I'm probably a bit autistic myself), but given that avoiding contact leaves you with no reputation whatsoever, having a reputation as a weird person isn't really any worse.
When I was younger I would go to the supermarket, get what I needed and pay without saying a word. I knew some kind of interaction was expected, but I couldn't make it up on the spot. By now, I have developed what can best be described as a large set of scripts in my head. I can go to the supermarket, the cheese shop, the butcher, etc. I can place my order, make smalltalk and appear as any normal person. The problems start when things go off-script, it's like mentally tripping over a loose tile. Worse even are situations that are new/unfamiliar.
Explaining it has never really helped, people simply fail to understand. 99% of the time, I'm indistinguishable from a normal person. The problem with that is that people don't really see me as any different, and thus place the same expectations on me as they would on any other person. Even knowing that I'm autistic doesn't change this one bit. I've lost friends over misunderstandings where I failed to pick up 'obvious' subtext and they just refused to believe that I didn't see it.
The worst part is where people get angry out of the blue and I have no idea why or what I did wrong.
Hm, well I've been going to the same supermarket for 10 years, without saying much more than "pretty good... thanks."
Recently I started adding "how are you?" which made things a bit more interesting. But I'm pretty good at improvising jokes and scientific observations, so that helps keep some words flowing. If you want to have a longer conversation, then finding places to insert questions can be useful.
Looking at your karma, writing comments on HN rewarding to you. Is that much different in the end than talking with human being (except it's more difficult for you)?
The main difference is that there is no direct human contact and the conversation is asynchronous. I'm way better at communication if I have some time to think over my answers and I don't have to come up with them up the spot. Basically, when I do not have to spend so many CPU cycles on all the non-verbal stuff (eye contact, posture, reading their face) I can actually focus on the content.
If someone wants to actually get close to me, IM would be the way to do it.
Yeah, I was going to do something like this, then I thought "you know, I don't know dude's life at all, no reason to assume anything in my experience would be at all useful, let me just step back a minute before I insist on myself and try to help out without knowing how to be effective about it." Turns out that was a good idea.
Its like trying to losing weight by just eat less. Sure, technically you are correct but damn hard to do.
i assumed it's at work
It’s everywhere and all the time.
I think the point is you can have lots of social interaction but still have superficial relationships and little support network. Not saying that's your situation of course.
What about getting a dog?
"Perhaps you want to say that men just like it that way. Perhaps you want to say, like Geoffrey Grief, writing in Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, “Men are more comfortable with shoulder-to-shoulder friendships while women prefer face-to-face friendships, which are more emotionally expressive.” Shoulder-to-shoulder meaning: engaging in a shared activity, like playing a game of pick-up basketball, as opposed to confiding face-to-face and being emotionally vulnerable. This may be true for some men, who, like some women, need less intimacy than others. But when asked, men say we wish we had more intimacy in our friendships with other men."
Oh, the irony.
We just wrapped up another round of the "women in technology" discussions, where one of the primary arguments was, "they would prefer not to work here."
So the argument here is what? That increasing the proportion of women in specific technical fields will have some beneficial effect on the ability of men to become emotionally intimate in their friendships with one another? That doesn't seem to me to follow, but I suspect I must be misgathering your point here in any case, not least because you've approached it in the vaguest of terms. Will you make plain what you're trying to say, so that it's possible to sustain a discussion around it instead of ending up talking past one another as I feel we're at risk of doing right now?
Irony: "a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result."
The parallel construction strikes me as amusing.
The parallel to which you refer is far from obvious. Is it meaningful enough to share, or are you here just to say that you have a private joke? I mean, I have no idea what you're trying to put across here, and to whatever extent anyone beyond the two of us continues to look at this thread on a Sunday, I confide I cannot be alone in this difficulty. If you have something substantive to say, it would be awesome if you went ahead and said it.
The point I inferred from the comment was that "it is OK for the article to state that biological differences in men and women lead to certain pre-dispositions in how friendships are formed, but it was not OK to suggest that biological differences might influence suitability/pre-disposition for certain kinds of work." I'm not backing that claim or taking a stance on it, but that is what I understood the source of the irony to be.
> bodies were stored in refrigerated meat-packing trucks.
Wat? Wouldn't it be better to pump that refrigeration into said 49 degrees C appartments instead, where the alive but dying people are?
Loneliness is a problem AI will fix. 100s of personalities that can be virtual and in humanoid robot form.
But why is loneliness a problem? Because evolution; being apart from the tribe was not a good survival strategy so we have developed an intuitive "feel bad when cut off" mechanism. Same with fear of ostracism; being cast out from the tribe was a death sentence. You can to a very limited extent "hack" it - why people carry around photos of loved ones in their wallets and look at them to trigger the recognition response - but a chatbot that could operate at that level would be indistinguishable from a sentient being in its own right, in which case why not make real friends with it?
Because with bot you can just shut them down when they don't behave like you expected or when you dont need them.
Because with bot you can just shut them down when they don't behave like you expected or when you dont need them.
I don't think that knowing you can do this and successfully fooling your internal anti-loneliness mechanisms are compatible. You simply won't get the full range of emotional stimuli.