Dramatic Question: What if solitude was the cure for loneliness?
Premise: The more inter-connected we become, the lonelier we are
Story Message: Failure to spend quality time with yourself means having little to offer anyone else
We live in the age of distraction. New and faster methods of communication have made us feel more connected to those around us, but these connections have become more superficial. Instead of sharing a meal with a friend, we take a picture of our meal and blast it to everyone we ever met on social media. Instead of breaking up with our partner through a heart-felt conversation, we dump them by text message. Instead of phoning someone to discuss a delicate issue, we spend a half-hour crafting a clever email and then turn our backs on them. This allows us to manage our relationships on our own terms, when it's most convenient. It is a process of streamlining and reduction. In short, all our relationships have become asynchronous.
All the while, our technology remains seductive. We have everything we could ever want at our fingertips: obscure information, support groups, fan clubs, same-day delivery. It is an online world of instant gratification. Whatever we can imagine, someone else has already turned into a Kickstarter project. What couldn't be attempted for lack of funds or interest can now be crowdsourced. With so much stimulation and choice on offer, we should be experiencing a euphoria. Instead, depression is on the rise. Increasingly, people feel overwhelmed and complain of not having enough hours in the day.
When everything is available all the time, we suffer a crisis of imagination and expect to be entertained. When we are bombarded by images of violence and pornography, we become desensitised. When we are forced to maintain hundreds of friendships simultaneously, our attention is divided, and we choose the path of least resistance with the lowest common denominator. When we rely upon social media to be our window to the world, we end up in an echo chamber, reading the same things as everyone else, watching the same clips on YouTube, recycling the same social posts. Like a celebrity, we become less an individual and more of a public figure - concerned about opinion polls and ratings.
They say that sharing is caring, but we over-share, everything. Privacy is no longer precious. Is what we share coming from a sense of civic duty, a deep desire for a meaningful exchange, or simply to get people to notice? Sharing has become a selfish act - something we do to provoke a response.
It is ironic that the more selfish we become, the more of ourselves we lose in the process - for it is through meaningful interactions with other people that we define ourselves. But, in order to have those meaningful interactions, we need to spend quality time with ourselves, otherwise we will have little to offer anybody else.
When we give ourselves time to reflect, we learn what it is we want and to form honest opinions. When we give ourselves over to other people without trying to control the conversation, we let them teach us something new.
We must give ourselves time for reflection - a self-imposed amount of sensory deprivation in order to let our imaginations regenerate. We don't need validation from other people; we need validation from ourselves. In order to do that, we need time to think, to wonder and to dream, without being concerned about other people looking over our shoulder.