There are 7 billion people on this planet, and not a single one of them is thinking about you right now. You’re alone. And that can be depressing. And if you ever tell someone that you feel lonely, they’ll advise you to go out and meet people, completely ignoring the fact that they’re a person and could therefore help you. “Go out and meet people” is a polite way to say, “I don’t have time for you, but maybe you could find some loser to put up with you.” Fighting loneliness is hopeless.
Fortunately, you can mitigate the feeling of loneliness. You’ll still be lonely, but you don’t have to feel lonely. Here’s how to keep from feeling lonely.
Stop trying so hard to not be lonely. Best case scenario, you hang out with some idiots for a while, have a few good laughs, and then return to your original state of loneliness. Only it’s worse this time because now you’ve tasted camaraderie and will go through social withdrawals. Worst case scenario, you fail miserably, proving that you’re not only lonely but too lame to even deserve human interaction.
What you want to do is accept it. You’re lonely, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Once you accept it, you don’t have to keep trying to fix the problem because you’ll come to realize it’s not really a problem, just a neutral state of existence. Look at not being lonely as a “premium feature” life offers. You’re not simply entitled to it. Once you understand that, you won’t have the added depression and/or anger that comes from the frustration of not getting what you want.
Even if you accept that you’re lonely, feelings of loneliness will inevitably surface. People want attention and validation. Since you’re lonely, you’re going to have quite the deficiency of those. Luckily, you live in 2012 and that means you have social media out the Yin-Yang.
You have to be careful here, though. Remember the first trick about accepting your loneliness. If you approach social media attempting to cure your loneliness, you’ll be disappointed. It’s all too easy to obsessively watch Twitter, just waiting for someone to retweet your ingenious observation. This is counter-productive. Do not obsess!
Instead, casually engage in social media. Pick something that suits your interests, so that even without any attention or validation from it, you still enjoy the time. For instance, you look at funny Internet memes on Reddit, which can be entertaining on its own. Or if you like learning, maybe Quora is a good place to waste the night away. Once you find a site that works for you, participate. Leave comments on Reddit. Answer Quora questions. Reply to tweets. Post a Facebook status. Enjoy writing? Write a blog post.
Now, you’ll start to get the attention and validation that feels so good. And since you didn’t set out looking for it, it feels extra sweet. Notifications will pop up sporadically. The more you participate, the more you’ll get. Still, be careful not to become addicted. (This is very tricky since you’re looking at a variable interval reinforcement schedule, for all you psychology majors out there.) “I’m just browsing Reddit for the hilarious pictures of cats. Wait, what’s this? Oh, somebody replied to my comment! I’m having a conversation!”
Avoid Going Out in Public
People are the worst thing for loneliness. Every single one of them represents an opportunity that you’re missing out on. You should avoid going out in public as much as possible. Of course, you still need to go to school or work, unfortunately. If you can somehow swing a work-from-home deal, cherish it.
Keep the excursions to a minimum. You don’t want any more reminders than necessary that there are other people on this planet.
Now, this might seem unusual. Common sense would tell you that being among people would help with loneliness. Well, that’s completely wrong. What are you going to do with those people, huh? People in public are not your friends. They’re glorified ambiance. If you knew how to interact with them in a meaningful way, you wouldn’t be lonely, would you? The best you could hope for would be some awkward eye-contact on the subway. You don’t need to be reminded of just how many people will never care about you. Nothing makes you feel more alone than being lonely in a sea of people.
The good news is people on television care. And they’re usually pretty reliable. These people are your new best friends. They’ll visit you often.
Don’t channel surf. We’re not looking to just pass the time here. Find yourself a good TV show to invest in, something with a good ensemble cast works best. You’ll want to immerse yourself in the characters’ lives. So, find something that’s serial, where the story evolves with each episode. Now you can enjoy having company without having to know anyone, be interesting or have a cool place. Everything you can get from real friends, you can get from TV characters. Almost.
You’ll still need physical contact. Buy pillows, lots of pillows. You should sleep with at least five pillows. Standard size, body pillows, memory foam….whatever feels right, but not dakimakura. Don’t be a creep.
The pillows are meant to be a substitute for physical contact, not actual people. So, I’m not talking about crazy delusions here. The pillows are just pillows. But you can hug them. They’ll lie next to you while you sleep and give you a shoulder to cry on when you need one. I know what you’re thinking, and no. Don’t have sex with them. Pillows can’t consent.