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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

Look at all the lonely people

Loneliness s a highly charged and emotive term.

In so being, such a term of relativity has been instrumental in some of the most celebrated songs within our pop culture; such this title being borrowed from the [1965] Beatles song Eleanor Rigby. Just sticking with this band, just 2 years later and the theme is inserted right into the title of their most successful experimental release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [1967].

On the cusp of what is widely regarded as a most revolutionary decade of the 20th Century, Alan Sillitoe released the novel The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner [1959]. A plethora of other artistic works also centre largely around a focus on isolation. Due to the concept of loneliness being deemed as such a pejorative term, it automatically becomes so loaded. Never has it felt more prevalent than in terms of the calamitous way in which we are being governed through the current pandemic of COVID-19. The unprecedented levels of physical along with mental health effects that are being inflicted upon people, I commit my atheist’s prayer in the hope that we could be once more on the cusp of future aspiration for us all.

Unlike solitude, the connotations of “loneliness” are exclusively negative. It is almost inevitable that under the capitalist vision that we are all –however subconsciously – fed, conceives of loneliness in itself as being something of an indication of at least personal failure. In so being, I think that it is a reality to which we almost by default are encouraged to shy away from. There is so much discomfort in so acknowledging yourself as “lonely” that we can feel so obliged to, that I would almost bet (in all of the audacity of ignorance) to assume that it is tucked away at the brunt of so many conditions that are classified. It may not be accounted for, but despondency inevitably is a contributing factor in causing the eventual demise of so many people’s eventual death; morbid.

Whilst it could be argued that experiencing true loneliness can only ever be as a consequence of having experiencing a sense of having experienced some (in however localised or refined such showings may be) notion of popularity. If you fail to gauge the pleasures of enjoying company, how can you feel at any loss without access to the thing that you are missing? Though I’m sure that as a craving for company and validation is so programmed into us all, it is far more intrinsic to us homo-sapiens as a species to be reliant upon company; for almost all of us at least. I work for a homeless charity and it is as depressing as it is revealing, that such a large proportion of our clients have a history devoid of any solid stability and I I understand any person in such a predicament for turning to excessive amounts of alcohol, which often seems to be used as something exchangeable with crack or heroin.

Having always experienced and enjoyed being surrounded by a healthy support network is something that I – as I’m sure are the majority of people within one – was always guilty of taking for granted, in just accepting as the norm. In reality, it is what I think that I owe any achievement that I have made without even mentioning any sanity that I possess.

With loneliness in itself being so open to such derision, as with so many other emotions, it is momentously subjective and henceforth difficult to ever go about levelling in terms of quantities. The perceived shame that can be conjured through exposing yourself as open to it cannot be ignored. In light of the levels of it, this is a shameful reflection upon our society. As with anything, feeling lonely can easily be cast aside as something that can so easily be ignored and even dismissed as a complaint to be taken seriously enough.

When I worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation between 2013 and 2014, there was an inspirationally lead Comeliness Project and one of the painful realities of this that I recall is how loneliness is so prevalent. In being so widespread, it becomes something so intrinsically preventable. This in the sense that if there is such a large pool of lonely people, there has to be a common interest that we can only properly address once people start to act upon fueling the notion that we all need to be more emphatic and tolerant with one another in addressing the quest for us to be united. My simple solution for us to go towards achieving this, is to just suggest that we should all just make the effort to talk to each other more. Communication is never something that can be overrated. So a bit more talking and loads more listening has to be the healthiest way forward; especially within a time so challenging as the current health pandemic.

Discomfort in terms of a lockdown on all levels from fear of the intangible beast [germs] and what can feel like irrevocable isolation. Personal improvement goals in leisure activities is something as one of the healthiest ways to put my time to the best use in allowing yourself to get back to setting yourself challenges that you know are achievable (thank you Strava running app!) to afford you at least some level of fulfillment. Even just going on a walk does my bio rhythms’ so much positive. This places me in the position of being able to properly acknowledge how I am lucky in comparison to so many others.

There is always an ease moaning about everything; especially in contrast to actually talking about what you find to be positive in situations and how we can all work to compromise in reaching an outcome that works for us all. COVID-19 has been flung at us all and we’ve all got a way that we feel most comfortable at dealing with it. As I frequently say about everything, nothing is so black and white; what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts. In this, I do not feel in any position to be definitive about my views on many of lockdown measures. Arbitrary measures accounting for anything has always been something making me feel a sense of discomfort; situations are all so unique.

Anyway, in an almost dangerous sense, I’m allowing myself to be optimistic. There may be hard times ahead for us all, but I just hope that we can use this as an experience to do more than launch verbal diarrhea around. Cosseted social media must be a foot fall of all of this. Far from claiming any real innocence in all of this facet of society with the potential for as much good as evil, all that I’m really trying to claim is that we surely need to start focusing on things that unite us as opposed to divide us. There are always far more. This piece will end as it started; on the title of a Beatles song: Come Together [1969] people.

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