Loneliness: Would we exist if no-one noticed us?

21 May 2021

3.3 MINS

i am a person, who is going through some hard times. my thoughts are beyond me. i just want to get noticed …

Thus is one of the recent trending discussions on Reddit.

I just want to get noticed.

This is actually a need more than ever that young people are yearning for — to be noticed.

And yet, more than ever young people are being noticed and noticing each other via the proliferation of social media.

Most young people have a social media account, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat where they publish continual commentary and pictures about their lives, just so that they are noticed.

This highlights something tragic. Young people are feeling more isolated, anxious and unnoticed despite the most sophisticated technological tools to connect, not just to close friends and family, but to the entire world.

Come to Me.

This comment on Quora is very perceptive:

I think it’s a universal need. Would we exist if no one noticed us?
We desperately scramble for validity. Social media seems to satisfy the need to be noticed.

Would we exist if no one noticed us? I don’t think so.

Social media seems to satisfy the need to be noticed, but not really.

Come to Me.

The reason I don’t think we could exist if no-one noticed us is because being unnoticed is an indicator of loneliness and isolation. And loneliness and isolation kill people.

According to research, feeling lonely can pose a bigger risk for premature death than smoking or obesity.

And this:

There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators … Many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic’.

Come to Me.

According to the above report from VicHealth, loneliness is more common among two key groups: the elderly over 75 years and young people 15-25 years. We occasionally hear horrendous stories of our elderly dying from loneliness, and more so during the COVID-19 crisis, but we hardly hear anything about our young people. Not the headlines of the mainstream media at least. An article in Eternity News recently brings to light in our current context. A representative from the Salvation Army Youth Services in Melbourne reports:

Isolation is a major problem for many during COVID, but for Melbourne’s homeless youth, the situation can be life threatening.

The article explains that homeless youth are not able to have the face to face contact with support workers. There is no casual interaction and spontaneity or no-one on the street to chat to, which may be the only interaction they have for the week. In addition, they don’t have unlimited access to internet which provides some connection (yes, that social media connection that seems to satisfy the need to be noticed.)

Come to Me. I am gentle and humble of heart.

Youth living on the streets is tragic, and I can only imagine the magnified anguish of being unnoticed. As a mother, the thought of this is heart-crushing.

There are too many stories like this:

i dont really have anyone anymore and i dont feel like the people around in my life would notice or care if they knew how i felt right now …

In the prison system, solitary confinement is a form of torture, not inflicting physical pain, but the mental anguish of isolation and loneliness. It’s deadly.

Come to Me and you will find rest.

I recently heard the story of a senior man in Brisbane, who during the COVID-19 lockdowns decided to start a Facebook group to connect all the people in his street and look out for one other. This was an initiative of his local church. After not hearing from one resident to join the street Facebook group, he decided to visit and ask in person. He happened upon the resident, a young man, who was about to act on his suicide plan. This was a Divine Rescue, and the young man not only has a new friend with whom he meets weekly, but he now has mental health support.

This young man would not have existed if he hadn’t been noticed.

His loneliness was crushing, his broken relationships debilitating, and his lack of meaningful connections with others, a violation of his essential nature as a relational being, made in God’s image.

Finally, the words of Jesus, the One who notices, fixes His eyes on each:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.~
~ Matthew 11:28-30

Originally published at Youth For Christ Australia.
Photo by Stefan Spassov on Unsplash.

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