Thursday, December 03, 2009

Loneliness Virus

Read this story on Live Science about loneliness being like a virus that spreads and found myself wondering if I have seen any evidence of this in my surroundings. Folks that I know who do not care to socialize much (or at all) are friends with like minded people. They would cringe at the thought of hanging out those who are unlike them.

The part that did not register with me right away was the contagious aspect of loneliness. Say Person A is lonely and naturally gravitates toward Person B who is also a loner. The pair becomes lonelier together as they feed off of each other's sense of isolation. What are the chances of Person A (or B) reaching out to Person C who is highly social and outgoing and transferring the loneliness virus to them. Suddenly Person C turns introverted and withdraws social contact.

That scenario does not make as much sense at first. The phenomenon is explained thusly :

Over time, lonely individuals become lonelier and transmit such feelings to others before severing ties. "People with few friends are more likely to become lonelier over time, which then makes it less likely that they will attract or try to form new social ties," they write. Such friendless individuals ended up on the outskirts of their social networks.

Now, that is quite fascinating to consider. In inverse of this scenario would be a lonely person coming into contact with an very friendly individual and being infected by the social virus. They may remain on the fringes of this new person's vibrant social network, but the energy emanating from this large, dynamic and friendly organism could be enough to ease the loneliness a little. Wonder if the antidote to loneliness would be then to latch on to the networks of those who are not quite as lonely and hope the salutary effects transmit over.

1 comment:


The last paragraph was interesting. That set me thinking what exactly is loneliness, is that a state of mind or.....?