Did You Inherit Loneliness?
Or do you just suck on your own?
Do you ever feel alone? Like, really, truly alone? And not just in those moments when you are by yourself, but even when you are surrounded by other people, sometimes while you are in the middle of a conversation, perhaps during moments of great intimacy? Are you overcome by a wave of sadness and separateness so sharp that it’s all you can do to turn your face away for fear that someone might see you cry, not that they’d understand, since you’re probably the only one who feels that way and there’s no one who can help you anyway?
Loneliness is linked to poor physical and mental health, and is an even more accurate predictor of early death than obesity. To better understand who is at risk, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted the first genome-wide association study for loneliness — as a life-long trait, not a temporary state. They discovered that risk for feeling lonely is partially due to genetics, but environment plays a bigger role.
So this is good for everyone who needs another reason to pin their problems on their lousy genes and those of you who look at your outgoing parents, with their strong ties and large group of friends, and wonder what went wrong with your own life, why you aren’t able to get even a few people around you to help stave off the agony and dejection that surround you in your solitude. It’s not just that you’re a sad, unlovable monster whose sorry social skills seem to drive others way, it’s also that you’re looking at how pathetic and pitiable your life is through a lens of perceived isolation. Either way, you’re all alone. Fortunately, capitalism is on the case:
If you’ve got the money, you can now Rent-a-Friend, pay for cuddles, or dine with strangers. Our reaction to these services tends to vary, in keeping with how intimate they are — cuddle parties seem weirder than dinner parties — but the basic trade-off of cash for connection is the same in each case.
And if you don’t have the money? Well, by the rules of the society in which we live, that’s your fault, genetics or environment be damned. You deserve to be alone. Better get used to it now, because you’re going to be by yourself for a long, long time until you’re finally welcomed into the companionship of the grave. Loser.