Living In Isolation, Surrounded By Technology

self portrait van goghRecently, I’ve seen numerous commercials for “Petolon”. From what I can gather, you stand in front of a screen or mirror in your home, and you workout. If this is new to you – have a peek here.

I used to be a gym rat. I loved to workout but there was a strong social aspect to going to the gym as well. There was community there and I was part of it. I was in the early-morning workout group. I’d hop on a cross-trainer and talk to Denis, the doctor from Cameroon.

My son, Vidroid, was heavily into gaming from the time he was seven years old. By the time he was a teenager, the majority of people he called friends, were people in the gaming community, strewn around the world. I’d see sim standing in front of the tv, zoned out, oblivious, chatting into his mic, completely absorbed in the game. I’m sure you can imagine.

The tunnel vision scared me.  The dogs would try to signal him, they needed to go out and pee. He was oblivious.  His energetic life force was not really in the room.

Vid was saved by a flesh and blood girl. Yep. He met a woman and that was that. No more time for gaming! These days his life take place in the (real) 3-D world with all it’s messes, textures and smells.  Whew! But this stuff is still out there and people so, so lonely.

You hear a lot about how people never turn off their phones. It’s easy to see why.  If you turn off the device, you’re alone. It’s possible for years to pass, with all your attention given to the machine. Meanwhile your (real life) social skills degrade.

Depression probably figures here.  Why clean the house? No one is coming over. You can swipe people away and guess what? They swipe you away as well. I really hate this.

I hate it enough to do something about it. I have found people like myself who really want to be connected. I maintain relationships in real life and I try to do more, not less.

My husband and I teach a class with twenty-three 10-12 year old kids, every Sunday.  Recently, we started having a 16 year old boy come over – he like to play guitar with my husband.  My husband actually taught him to play, two years ago. He’s got a lot of talent and he’s taken off.

Thing is the boy’s mother brings him to our house and she stays to visit with me.  She has three other kids; sometimes they come over as well.  These visits are at least two hours long, maybe twice that. I don’t have to go to any real trouble, but I do have to have the house clean… and there goes our weekends!  But at least we in life.

My husband and I, the boy and his mother, were sitting around the table, this last Saturday. We were chatting during a break in the music.  We were all popping almonds into our mouths, eating scones, and talking about life. We were also making plans for the future.

I’m writing this out because I think this socializing thing is a lost art, for many.  When I look around, I see people in technology bubbles.  What we see in our bubble is tightly controlled.

It’s gotten so bad, it’s hard to find points of commonality.  My bubble and yours, connect briefly. It’s like a twitter-length communication and that’s all we have.  Worst of all, it’s boring.

Like I said, I hate this so I’m actively looking for people who want a real, rather than a virtual life.  There are a lot of them out there but you’re not going to see them unless you put down your phone and whatever other kind of fake armor you’re wearing.

If you feel your life is missing something, I hope this spurs you to seek real connection. Somehow, somewhere.

Are you becoming more (or less) isolated?

34 thoughts on “Living In Isolation, Surrounded By Technology”

  1. Great example of isolation versus the messy real. I was visited by Coyotes, real ones, this morning while re-reading a post I had written on my blog, viewing it on our new-to-us Iphone… among other things, the blog described my walk on the Coyote trails … real ones. My husband and I are in between living here and moving somewhere. The needs of our real world does for sure include being with real people who see us as real and messy with needs and offerings. We’re working on a real hook-up chat later this week for conversation and connection. There will be gives and takes and all the between. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. Scares the sh*t out of me; ‘what if I screw this up?’ The other side of this is ‘what if I don’t try and depend ONLY on my virtual connection?’
    It’s a Wild World and I’m lucky to have a partner Wild and Virgo to ride the otherside of this see-saw at 72. Thanks for laying this out like this.

    1. You may have to train yourself to not go out in the world, looking for something to photograph or record, to put on social media…

      I am not sure how hard this might be for some but I am sure, nothing satisfies like sitting with another human being and having a real conversation.

  2. I tried, real hard, some years ago, to make an in-the-flesh life and circle of friends. It wobbled and failed.

    I am now in a new location, miles away, starting over, again. I am once again trying. There have been many failures again, but I think something has finally shifted and my current and future attempts might actually succeed.

    I have one new, very recent, prospect in its early stages. I think this one will be a winner. So far, so good…

  3. As a psych student, we read numerous studies, one being how depression can be lessened by exercise, but in group setting allowing a social component to exist.
    While trotting around campus between classes, a shoulder bump many students (on purpose as well), because they walk while on their phones all the time. It’s at an alarming rate to where I wanna do a study on it.
    I recently read about “Hikimori”, a Japanese term for those who live in isolation and communicate only thru technology, and most have depression-like symptoms, terrible diets, lack of vitamin D etc. However some help has been surfacing for the Hikimori community, which is nice but it doesn’t outperform the lack of physical interaction, in person.

    So what I do is call my friends, arrange meetings and avoid online classes. There’s a real joy and intrinsic feeling I get being around people.

    1. When I look at the pictures of the exercise mirror… perfect body in perfect surroundings. But then you cut the power and you’re alone in the dark.

      What’s the use of being perfect, but untouched?

      1. I saw a Nordic Track commercial that said their technology allows the trainer to control your machine remotely. That’s scary AF! What if the trainer decides to turn it against me and the Nordic Track comes to life and kills me in my sleep? This is why I avoid exercise altogether.

  4. this is certainly a generation of gaming communities, and instagram communities and even online message board communities. It is fine, it makes people connect. But honestly if they never see eachother, it remains distance and cold. you are alone again. These online communities need to meet up. Sadly many don’t have the funds to meet up. It is very costly; they need group meetings and save up money, pool sources together for meet ups. you get to see who is who. eat with them, talk with them ect.
    there is this advertisement we saw in the movies, where gamers meet, a bunch of guys, who connected, and then met up one day and they connected. It was really nice to see them together.

    1. My son told me that his gaming friends were “real friends” and further, he convinced me this was true. I am sure it was true.

      But when this gal came along… I seriously doubt he’s played so much as one game in the last 18 months.

      But if he has kids of his own, I’m sure he’ll be back on there. But there does come a time when you really need someone who can and will, come to your home or wherever it is you are, and actually help you.

  5. Very interesting and thought provoking read. I admit I have a problem with it and I hate it, although I have cut back a lot lately because I am so bored. It’s been on my mind recently that the reason I stay connected online is because I never really accepted where I chose to reside. I moved away from family and friends down south to live up north where I knew no one except the man I married. I never really fit it. The pace is way different, I talked different, etc… i thought people were cold and inconsiderate.. I decided to isolate myself, and dream of greener pastures, especially in the first few years. Social netwroks like facebook soon became a thing so thats how I stayed in touch with people back home.

    Admittedly, it’s where I kept up appearences that everything was hunky dorey. So, no ome knew what I was actually dealing with, which was severe isolation, pain and homesickness, not to mention a very challenging relationship. So while everyone thinks everything is hunky dory, I am growing more and more isolated. Oh the evils of technology.

    Anyway, I am plotting out a way to freedom right now. I will find a way.

    1. Avatar
      lorette matodes

      Hi I was once in a situation like this ,far from family and friends,Dependant on technology for work and communication.Alone with my husband and HIS group of friends. Then my husband died and after about a year I THREW myself off that mountain and descended into real city life.I have never gone back .except for short visits.Yoy know the scene..where shutters are closed at 7 in the evening..and you wander in the streets looking for someone to TALK to .I suffered so many panic attacks.Closed in behind shutters sometimes in periods of extreme weather. But you have to TAKE that decision,no buts .. ..

      1. Oh wow, intersting, thanks for sharing. I am a lot more accepting of my cirxumstances than I used to be, but technology kindof stuck with me as it has a lot of people. Nowadays I am busy busy with school and interning, commuting all the time. I do have some friends from school who I go out with sometimes… they are all in their 20’s so thats interesting .. actually the people in that age range care LESS about social media from what Ive noticed. Anyway, things are looking better, but I am still trying to free myself from the technology trap.

  6. Toastmasters helps me with this. I have to learn how to look my audience (each person) in the eye, open up about myself or share on another topic, and listen to feedback. Plus I’m face-to-face with other members before and after the weekly meetings. It’s unnerving for me, but a lot more satisfying than simply going home to an empty apartment every night after work. Facebook and Instagram keeps me connected with family and friends—but barely. I don’t say a lot.

  7. This is where I have been. My New Years Reso was to get back up and join the REAL WORLD. It was waiting for me to get back up and I am grateful. Limited time on the computer has caused a total shift in me over the last 6 weeks.

    My real flesh and blood family and friends….gotta join em or I am gonna lose em. I’m going to lunch, and volunteering at the school, and going to the gym, and hanging out with my best girlfriend (I just love her! Cancer Sun!) and my house is clean 🙂 I’m working again too 🙂 I have lots of life left in me 🙂

    We booked our vacation for May today 🙂 and I am so excited!

    And, I have already lost 10 lbs 🙂

    I’m 60 years old. I don’t have all the time in the world left to waste on a screen that is slowly blinding me anyway…. its been refreshing, even if it is colder than a well diggers a$$ and even if the doc said…hmmm again. My doctor shocked me again… I have no time to waste!

    I am not living my life on the computer anymore…what there is left of it. It goes SO FAST. There are people I love with all my heart that I want to spend time with. I have things to tell them, I have things to do with them… its important.

    My favorite 80’s singer passed away today. He was only 66. There are wake up calls all around us if we listen. (RIP James Ingram) Just like that…its over 🙁

  8. Opalina…I think of you every day! I am praying for you. You keep hanging in there. Sending you love and strength. You have a heart of gold…hang on my Scorpio friend. You are stronger than you think! xoxoxoxoxo You can do this. We always do the heavy lifting even when it hurts so bad we cant see… giant hugs from me to you!!

  9. Very real actually. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When I was young, my parents had people over all the time. It seems that got lost nowadays, not just with my generation but with theirs as well and I hate that.

  10. Avatar
    the laughing goat

    I’ve become more isolated but not because of technology… because of people. The last few years 2015-18 were so very difficult with people – Saturn in and Sag 10/11H. Every time I turned around a new asshole would appear to challenge me, my boundaries. Has eased up a lot since Saturn went in to Cap and only a few weeks left in the 11H. What and/or who is left was meant to be there. Now on to the 12H which is likely more isolation but I am ok with that… cleaning out the cobwebs my closets. 😉

  11. I really notice this because I talk to so many people (on the job). One person is completely ate up with a certain idea or theme or meme. They think there are great numbers of people who are with them. Chances are they’re standing in a container, where their views are constantly reflected back at them.

    It’s so weird. The Internet allows us to communicate with people around the world. Instead we’re in these little bubbles.

    I warned about this, long ago, with Saturn in Virgo. Keep control of your mind. I don’t think very many people listened.

    But now Jupiter is in Sagittarius. This really opens doors which is great. But if the animal won’t leave the cage, even though the door has been flung open, what can you do?

    Anyway. I ask clients sometimes, “Have you ever heard of X?”

    It will be something that is being HAMMERED in a certain quarter. The person is oblivious. But they’re not oblivious to what is going on in their (virtual) world.

    The thing is, in the real world… well it’s like this mother or her son or my husband and I. We just want to do something good. Learn and have a good time. Improve ourselves. Hang out.

    These are real things and when I mentioned this, as we were all sitting at the table, the 16 year old boy, nodded emphatically.

    The mother doesn’t make him come here. He waits all week to come here. Because it’s a real thing that happens here. His life is changing and it’s changing via the choices he’s making. Like learning guitar.

    A lot of kids came to that guitar class. Several really wanted to learn but only one, went home and practiced his ass off. Only one became determined to leave where he was and who he was and become someone who could play guitar…. anywhere, anytime, with anyone. There was an opportunity and he took it.

    I can’t stand to see people squander their talent and pass on opportunities to do whatever. To do GOOD, for example.

    You can do something good, you know you can, but you choose not to or even to do something bad or ugly. Eventually you become bad and ugly and no one should be surprised.

  12. This is relevant in my life right now. My inner curiosity wonders why you included the part with “Denis” because ironically I open a gym every morning and the one old guy that I talk to every morning is name Denis too.
    It’s hard for me to put into words what I want to say about this. My phone has been broke for a week, I got a new one yesterday, but this past week has opened my eyes in a big way. I actually survived without my phone. I didn’t die. I didn’t get lost. I truly had these fears. It made me realize how big of an illusion this world is and how our brains are conditioned. I actually had more real world interactions and it felt good. now that I have somewhat cut the cord to my phone.. and built a new cord to living in the present moment. this new phone feels useless. I almost don’t even want it. “Almost” doesn’t really matter.. I still have it. But I have a new perspective about it.. which is freeing.

  13. My phone isn’t working lately and I sometimes go places only with a notebook and pen (no book even..) I always had messy handwriting and now I notice my handwriting is even worse.. my hand is weaker.. and I don’t know how to fill my time or what to say when I don’t have a little fun box at my beck to fill my head with music or podcasts or reading or compulsive internet use..
    But I try.. it’s easy to get used to having a phone and it’s a bit harder to get used to not having one.. but not having a book is annoying.. truth is I can’t get that same sense of satisfaction from one book cause maybe it’s not the one I’m in the mood for.. I bought a book that’s a play cause it fits in my purse.. but it’s not what I’m in the mood to read.. on the internet it’s easy to root around for something that can sate you.

    I’m having my Moon Saturn transit so I’m isolated. But, I didn’t always have internet and don’t play video games..

  14. This is relevant now on a many levels!

    Over the last few months I’ve gotten so sick and tired of things I’ve been reading on social media. So I’ve backed off – on and off. Unfollowed some that I don’t necessarily dislike, but like to back up what I read with my own research, so I see holes in their presentations. We can control who we follow on social media while having to compromise over the tv programs with the real people we live with ?

    My phone’s battery is sucking ridiculously lately. It needs a constant lifeline, even after I’ve done everything I can to tweak it. So I take it with me less often. It’s useless when it drops precipitously to 7% ?

    My gym had been making changes over the last year, ones made me decide to make my own home gym to supplement the equipment they’d gotten rid of. So part of my workout was at home (alone) and part was at my gym. My gym was bought out by Planet Fitness a couple weeks ago. I’d been going to that place for 13 years and met lots of people. It was the kind of place, as Elsa mentioned, where you’d chat with people. If you didn’t see someone for a while you wondered how they were. PF doesn’t meet my needs and I canceled so I had to say goodbye to many people who were staying there. It was sad! So while many are moving with me to the other gym, I will miss seeing other familiar faces. It was community.

    So yes, we need varying degrees of connectedness. So far, for me, it’s all been within my control. I do love the idea of connecting with others around the world but it’s not always a replacement for another person’s energy or the important communication of body language and facial expression in person.

  15. So funny! I just retired and am loving doing nothing, seeing nobody, reading ebooks & checking social media! (I do have family in the area, so am not totally isolated.) I know I’ll get bored at some point, but right at the moment I’m absolutely wallowing in the freedom from society. Saturn is hovering over my sun, probably when he moves on I’ll be inclined to get back out there. Great post though!

  16. Elsa,

    Well, I am an introvert and love my own company. But I have an itchy adventurous side. Something that has been positive for me since the advent of the internet is that after making friends online, I go visit them – in another country or state. I have made so many interesting friends that I originally met online, talked to for months or years and then visited. It has expanded my world.

    I am not so isolated, but I also do intentionally practice the art of conversation and social behaviors.

    1. Elskede,
      Great example of making positive use of the internet connections you began. I too have made friends via the internet, and blogging, to create a different version of real and virtual conversations. The work of being ingenious about taking parts of this and that to make something yet to be is my innate talent. Reading your story make me smile on the inside. Introvert Ingenuity for the IT World. Thumbs Up!

      1. Elksed, I have done this too in the past. Most have been very positive-went to London for a big group meet up (had a blast!) and have met up with one woman, when she’s in the area, who has become a dear friend. But One turned our poorly. Albeit was supposed to be a romantic meet up it did not turn out well. I flew across the country three times! I did enjoy my London trip though and am glad you are able to meet your on line folks and make new friends too!

  17. I feel more isolated and out-of-touch because I deliberately have not jumped on the IPhone wagon. No data availability on my 2012 model Samsung cell phone! I am endlessly harassed by my kids and friends about not being “plugged in.” Then, again, Taurus rules my 3H; yeah, I’m pretty stubborn about communication changes. I still have a landline telephone!

  18. Yes! I teach high school theatre and in our productions all phones are locked up for the rehearsal period, whether 30 minutes or 6 hours. The kids struggle at first, but they begin to talk between scenes, listen to the action onstage, engage in real and imaginary life in person and no don’t even argue when I take up the phones. Almost a sense of relief!

  19. My isolation started when I moved out of the City with my then boyfriend, to my old County, about 27 miles away, in 1990. I didn’t have a cell phone until 1999. They were just a curiosity to me. Once I got one, I only used it for calls and photos. But I still was in isolation as I was not aware of forums and texting and such until about 2005. Once I joined an online group, it felt social, innocent and fun plus I discovered it at a bad and lonely juncture in my marriage. Well it I met folks alright and it turned into a shit show because I was an online/tech virgin and gullible. My marriage dissolved when Saturn reached my Moon/Pluto conj and I regret socializing on line ever since. Now I just do Pinterest and comment here but block any people who message me on Pinterest and try to make real life friends but they are all too busy with their phone and online life to give a f**k I guess, to bother to go out for an afternoon. Oh well. I still have my work friends, my grumpy and neurotic ex and the movies! I do see old friends but have to fly to other states to visit. I think technology is a conundrum and paradox- we were ok without it but now folks can’t seem to remember what life was before (just fine in my book) and the new generations will never know. I’m in IT and I wish it never was invented.

  20. I miss writing letters but my writing has degraded. Emails are convenient but cold somehow. I saved letters from old friends and love I can hold them and know they wrote it by hand, took the time to do it and go mail it. I write my Aunt who is 96. It’s a sweet exchange. So I am fairly isolated but I guess nothing new since my late 20’s. I’m 61 now.

  21. My newer comment to Elksed is after remembering all was not bad but I still just stick to emailing folks one on one. Much nicer.

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