I like solitude, I live alone and I like my privacy. Yet, I can't deny feeling lonely now and then... These are excerpts (edited for clarity) of an interesting article by Jill Lepore (who quotes Vivek Murthy, John Cacioppo and others): "The History of Loneliness"
[quote]Primates need to belong to an intimate social group, a family or a band, in order to survive; this is especially true for humans (humans you don’t know might very well kill you, which is a problem not shared by most other primates). Separated from the group — either finding yourself alone or finding yourself among a group of people who do not know and understand you — triggers a fight-or-flight response. Your body understands being alone, or being with strangers, as an emergency. Over millennia, this hypervigilance in response to isolation became embedded in our nervous system to produce the anxiety we associate with loneliness. We breathe fast, our heart races, our blood pressure rises, we don’t sleep. We act fearful, defensive, and self-involved, all of which drive away people who might actually want to help, and tend to stop lonely people from doing what would benefit them most: reaching out to others.[/quote]
[quote]To belong is to feel at home. To be at home is to be known. Home can be anywhere. Human societies are so intricate that people have meaningful, intimate ties of all kinds, with all sorts of groups of other people, even across distances. You can feel at home with friends, or at work, or in a college dining hall, or at church, or in Yankee Stadium, or at your neighborhood bar. Loneliness is the feeling that no place is home. [/quote]
[quote]Historian Fay Bound Alberti argues that the condition really didn’t exist before the nineteenth century, at least not in a chronic form. It’s not that people—widows and widowers, in particular, and the very poor, the sick, and the outcast—weren’t lonely; it’s that, since it wasn’t possible to survive without living among other people, and without being bonded to other people, by ties of affection and loyalty and obligation, loneliness was a passing experience. For most ordinary people, daily living involved such intricate webs of dependence and exchange — and shared shelter — that to be chronically or desperately lonely was to be dying. The word “loneliness” very seldom appears in English before about 1800.[/quote]
[quote]Networked technologies of communication, beginning with the telephone’s widespread adoption, in the nineteen-fifties, helped make living alone possible. Radio, television, Internet, social media: we can feel at home online. Or not. Robert Putnam’s influential book about the decline of American community ties, “Bowling Alone,” came out in 2000, four years before the launch of Facebook, which monetized loneliness. Some people say that the success of social media was a product of an epidemic of loneliness; some people say it was a contributor to it; some people say it’s the only remedy for it. [/quote]
Full article: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/06/the-history-of-loneliness