Great article, jennypenny, thanks for sharing!
I'm almost never lonely when I'm actually alone. It's when I'm around other people - physically or virtually - that I sometimes feel lonely. And when that happens, it's usually because I somehow feel left out, or that I'm missing out. Over time, I've come to realize that's my insecurity talking. It's really nothing to do with where I am, who I'm with or what I'm doing.
I read a quote from a psychologist once who said, "Some people mistakenly believe that their loneliness is the product of another person's absence." It took me a week to really comprehend the truth of that message.
My favorite quote from this article:
"Not only must we contend with the social bounty of others; we must foster the appearance of our own social bounty."
I agree. I don't think Facebook creates loneliness, but I think it will exacerbate loneliness and discontent where it already exists because people disproportionately post the positive things that occur in their lives on Facebook, and sometimes when you're going through a rough patch in your own life it makes you feel like everyone else has it together and you're the only one who doesn't. It can also create jealousy and/or discontent, and I believe the posters do that intentionally sometimes. I have a couple of Facebook friends from whom I have unsubscribed because every single post seems to have an underlying message of, "I'm now telling all you Muppets - again - how wonderful my life is. As my Facebook friend, it's your job to comment below on how cool my activity of the day is, and how jealous you are, and then to ask me to describe the whole experience in more graphic detail below so you can emulate it/me. FYI."
As to living more IRL and narcissism, I am much happier when I take time to serve others. It's so easy when you're in the rat race, raising a family, to get to a point where your life and your problems are the only thing on your radar. Volunteering is great for reminding yourself that you are not the center of the universe, that other people are hurting and in need, and that you are vitally necessary because you have time, talents and in some cases money to give. I don't serve anywhere near as much as I should, and frequently get lost in the sea of my own complaints. Reminds me of that George Bernard Shaw quote:
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clot of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."