Modern Loneliness: Just Another Song Or The New Way Of Life?

BKavya Aggarwal 

 
Never have we been this connected. Yet, ironically, never have we felt lonelier as well. Despite being flooded by Instagram follow requests and surrounded by friends during meals, many still identify themselves as loners.  

I have felt lonely in a crowded room before. Everyone always seems to have so much to say during conversations, be it latest Tik Tok trends or celebrity intrigues…. however, as someone who is introverted and not knowledgeable in these areas, I find it difficult to contribute and feel left out even though I am surrounded by people.

Eunice, Year 1 Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information 

For the longest time, elders have been identified as the main group experiencing social seclusion. However, today, this problem isn’t just limited to them.  

With our work-life imbalance and the advent of solo living, people both young and old feel isolated and out of touch with each other. These feelings are exacerbated when one logs onto social media and sees all their friends having fun without them.   

Furthermore, for many, spending long days alone in lockdown or simply having to adapt to the unprecedented changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have made such feelings worse. 

Seeing our friends being social on Instagram can elicit feelings of isolation in comparison.  
Photo credit: Unsplash | @dancielcgold 

Ultimately, whether introverts or extroverts, humans are still social animals. We find joy in working together, immersing ourselves in shared interests and talking to one another. However, as university students who are constantly swamped with work, our back-to-back schedules may limit our social interactions with our friends. Non-academic pursuits and our passion projects seem less important in the greater scheme of things. As a result, we often neglect our emotional and social well-being.   

Is trying to balance our social lives with academic pursuits all but a lost cause? Well, quite the opposite, actually! As long as you are willing to leave your comfort zone and meet new people, there are always avenues for you to explore, such as: 

  1. Project Aphrodite: 21st Century Style Dating 
Project Aphrodite utilises concepts from Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Mathematics and Computer Science to help people find an ideal partner. Photo credit: Aphrodite Project Telegram Channel 

A quick glance at the NTU Confessions page is enough to tell you that our university has many lonely souls. Perhaps due to past experiences with broken hearts or unrequited affections, quite a few have come to believe that dating is just not meant for them. To tackle this problem, two NUS students initiated ‘Project Aphrodite’.  

An ambitious undertaking, this project requires participants to fill up a quick questionnaire on their interests, value system and preferences. Afterwards, the project’s creators run an algorithm to pair up like-minded individuals. After the success of Project Aphrodite in NUS, a second island-wide run was organised this year, which saw over 2700 NTU students signing up.  

Those who are interested in receiving updates on Project Aphrodite can join their Telegram Channel here

2. Put yourself out there 

With 16 academic clubs, 3 non-academic ones and over 100 interest-based CCAs and student organisations, there is no dearth of options available to us at NTU. Whether you are a film fanatic or a music maestro, there’s a place for everyone.  

I have met a lot of new folks and made friends through WSC (Welfare Services Club) including my present girlfriend…I feel CCAs are a great way to get introduced to a bunch of new people and expand your social circle!

Rohan, Year 3 Data Science and Artificial Intelligence 
(Main Comm., Welfare Services Club) 
Joining clubs and organisations is a great way to expand your social circle.  
Photo credit: NTUSU Corporate Communications 

Joining CCAs is a great way to take a break from your coursework while meeting people from different courses.  

For me, joining a CCA has helped me to keep myself occupied with meaningful stuff and widen my professional connections, (while) connecting with like-minded individuals.

Shannon, Year 3 Material Science and Engineering
(EXCO, Engineers Without Borders-NTU) 

3. Love Thyself 

We live in a society that cares too much about superficial indicators such as Instagram likes and follower counts. Unknowingly, we start comparing ourselves with others and come to the ill-founded belief that we are not doing enough. However, it is important to know that Instagram is merely a highlight reel showcasing the glitz and glamour. It does not necessarily represent reality.  

Rather than make ourselves feel miserable by comparing ourselves with others, we should all learn how to appreciate the company that we have. This is a lifelong journey that begins with building a positive self-image and takes time and effort.   

However, some baby steps you can take include immersing yourself in hobbies or reading up on self-help content to see what methods have worked for others. Depending on the individual, the exact methods will vary. But the end goal is the same, which is to pursue what interests and rejuvenates you! 

Taking time to appreciate your own company is important in cultivating a positive self-image.  
Photo credit: Unsplash | @jakemelara 

In life, all of us will experience lows when we feel unwanted. However, dwelling on them for too long will not do us good. Rather, taking these feelings in our stride will make all the difference. For example, being ready to explore new interests and going beyond what is familiar, might just lead us to building exciting new relationships and ridding ourselves of modern loneliness.