Everybody feels lonely from time to time. When we have no one to sit next to at lunch, when we move to a new city, or when nobody has time for us at the weekend. But over the last few decades, this occasional feeling has become chronic for millions. In the UK, 60% of 18 to 34-year-olds
say they often feel lonely. In the US, 46% of the entire
population feel lonely regularly. We are living in the most
connected time in human history. And yet, an unprecedented number of us feel isolated. Being lonely and being alone are not the same thing. You can be filled with bliss by yourself and hate every second surrounded by friends. Loneliness is a purely subjective, individual experience. If you feel lonely, you are lonely. A common stereotype is that loneliness only happens to people who don’t know how to talk to people, or how to behave around others. But population-based studies have shown that social skills make practically no difference for adults when it comes to social connections. Loneliness can affect everybody: money, fame, power, beauty, social skills, a great personality; Nothing can protect you against loneliness because it’s part of your biology. Loneliness is a bodily function, like hunger. Hunger makes you pay attention
to your physical needs. Loneliness makes you pay attention
to your social needs. Your body cares about your social needs,
because millions of years ago it was a great
indicator of how likely you were to survive. Natural selection rewarded
our ancestors for collaboration, and for
forming connections with each other. Our brains grew and became more and more fine-tuned to recognize what others thought and felt, and to form and sustain social bonds. Being social became part of our biology. You were born into groups of 50 to 150 people which you usually stayed with for the rest of your life. Getting enough calories, staying safe and warm, or caring for offspring was practically impossible alone. Being together meant survival. Being alone meant death. So it was crucial that you got along with others. For your ancestors, the most dangerous threat to survival was not being eaten by a lion, but not getting the social vibe of
your group and being excluded. To avoid that, your body came up with ‘social pain’. Pain of this kind is an
evolutionary adaptation to rejection: a sort of early warning system to make sure
you stop behavior that would isolate you. Your ancestors who experienced rejection as more painful were more likely to change their behavior when they got rejected and thus stayed in the tribe, while those who did
not got kicked out and most likely died. That’s why rejections hurt. And even more so, why loneliness is so painful. These mechanisms for keeping us connected worked great for most of our history, until humans began building a new world for themselves. The loneliness epidemic we see today
really only started in the late Renaissance. Western culture began to focus on the individual. Intellectuals moved away from the collectivism of the Middle Ages, while the young Protestant theology stressed individual responsibility. This trend accelerated during the Industrial Revolution. People left their villages and fields to enter factories. Communities that had existed for hundreds of years began to dissolve, while cities grew. As our world rapidly became modern,
this trend sped up more and more. Today, we move vast distances for new jobs, love and education, and leave our social net behind. We meet fewer people in person, and we
meet them less often than in the past. In the US, the mean number of close friends
dropped from 3 in 1985 to 2 in 2011. Most people stumble into chronic
loneliness by accident. You reach adulthood
and become busy with work, university, romance, kids and Netflix.
There’s just not enough time. The most convenient and easy thing to sacrifice
is time with friends. Until you wake up one day and
realize that you feel isolated; that you yearn for close relationships. But it’s hard to find close connections as adults and so, loneliness can become chronic. While humans feel pretty great about
things like iPhones and spaceships, our bodies and minds are fundamentally
the same they were 50,000 years ago. We are still biologically fine-tuned
to being with each other. Large scale studies have shown that the stress that comes from chronic loneliness is among the most unhealthy things
we can experience as humans. It makes you age quicker, it makes cancer deadlier, Alzheimer’s advance faster,
your immune systems weaker. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity and
as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The most dangerous thing about it is that once it becomes chronic, it can become self-sustaining. Physical and social pain use common mechanisms in your brain. Both feel like a threat, and so, social pain leads to immediate and defensive behaviour when it’s inflicted on you. When loneliness becomes chronic,
your brain goes into self-preservation mode. It starts to see danger and hostility everywhere. But that’s not all. Some studies found that when you’re lonely, your brain is much more receptive and alert to social signals, while at the same time, it gets worse
at interpreting them correctly. You pay more attention to others but you understand them less. The part of your brain
that recognises faces gets out of tune and becomes more likely to categorize neutral faces as hostile, which makes it distrustful of others. Loneliness makes you assume the worst
about others’ intentions towards you. Because of this perceived hostile world, you can become up more self-centered to protect yourself, which can make you appear more cold, unfriendly and socially awkward than you really are. If loneliness has become a strong presence in your life, the first thing you can do is to try to recognise the vicious cycle you may be trapped in. It usually goes something like this: An initial feeling of isolation leads to feelings of tension and sadness, which makes you focus your attention selectively on negative interactions with others. This makes your thoughts about
yourself and others more negative, which then changes your behavior. You begin to avoid social interaction, which leads to more feelings of isolation. This cycle becomes more severe
and harder to escape each time. Loneliness makes you sit far away from others in class, not answer the phone when friends call, decline invitations until the invitations stop. Each and every one of us has a story about ourselves, and if your story becomes that people exclude you, others pick up on that, and so the outside world can become the way you feel about it. This is often a slow creeping process that takes years, and can end in depression and a mental state that prevents connections, even if you yearn for them. The first thing you can do to escape it is to
accept that loneliness is a totally normal
feeling and nothing to be ashamed of. Literally, everybody feels lonely at some
point in their life, it’s a universal human experience. You can’t eliminate or ignore
a feeling until it goes away magically, but you can accept that you
feel it and get rid of its cause. You can self-examine what you focus
your attention on, and check if you are
selectively concentrating on negative things. Was this interaction with a colleague really negative,
or was it really neutral or even positive? What was the actual content of an interaction? What did the other person say? And did they say something bad,
or did you add extra meaning to their words? Maybe another person was not really
reacting negatively, but just short on time. Then, there are your thoughts about the world.
Are you assuming the worst about others’ intentions? Do you enter a social situation
and have already decided how it will go? Do you assume others don’t want you around? Are you trying to avoid being hurt
and not risking opening up? And, if so, can you try
to give others the benefit of the doubt? Can you just assume that they’re not against you? Can you risk being open and vulnerable again? And lastly, your behaviour. Are you avoiding opportunities to be around others?
Are you looking for excuses to decline invitations? Or are you pushing others away
preemptively to protect yourself? Are you acting as if you’re getting attacked? Are you really looking for new connections,
or have you become complacent with your situation? Of course, every person
and situation is unique and different, and just introspection alone might not be enough. If you feel unable to solve your situation by yourself, please try to reach out and get professional help.
It’s not a sign of weakness, but of courage. However we look at loneliness, as a purely individual problem that needs solving to create more personal happiness, or as a public health crisis, it is something that deserves more attention. Humans have built a world that’s nothing short of amazing, and yet, none of the shiny things we’ve made is able to satisfy or substitute our fundamental biological need for connection. Most animals get what they need from their physical surroundings. We get what we need from each other, and we need to build our
artificial human world based on that. Let’s try something together:
let’s reach out to someone today, regardless if you feel a little bit lonely,
or if you want to make someone else’s day better. Maybe write a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Call a family member who’s become estranged. Invite a work buddy for a coffee, Or just go to something you’re usually too afraid to go to or too lazy to go to, like a D&D event or a sports club. Everybody’s different,
so you know what’s a good fit for you. Maybe nothing will come of it, and that’s okay.
Don’t do this with any expectations. The goal is just to open up a bit; to exercise your connection muscles,
so they can grow stronger over time, or to help others exercise them. We want to recommend two of the books
we read while researching this video. ‘Emotional First Aid’ by Guy Winch,
a book that addresses, among other topics, how to deal with loneliness in a way that we found helpful and actionable and ‘Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection’ by John Cacioppo and William Patrick. It’s an entertaining and scientific exploration as to why we experience loneliness on a biological level, how it spread in society and what science
has to say about how to escape it. Links for both books are in the video description. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe!

100 thoughts on “Loneliness

  1. We designed a poster on this topic as well. You can find it here: https://standard.tv/collections/in-a-nutshell/products/in-a-nutshell-loneliness-poster

  2. You guys ever have that moment when you finish a great video game or movie and you really really want to share it with someone, but you don't know who? Istg I mess with that so much. I have friends but they don't exactly share the same interests as I do. I'm a extrovert but I guess I didn't find that special someone yet w (I guess i did a couple years ago, but my unstable ass cut them off..)

  3. Irony is you are not alone being lonely.. you make your own universe of loneliness and you can not find other civilization.. need a wormhole to connect these universes…😥

  4. i'm usually scared to talk to other people because i think i'll make a fool out of myself, or i'll do something that'll cause them to hate me, or see me in a negative way. oh my god, i just lack confidence don't i?

  5. Usually your videos are solely informational, this was like a self help seminar. I'm one of the 50% that is not lonely, in fact I'd love a little more alone time. Where is the seminar for detaching?

  6. Hey bro
    It would be so lovely, it would be THE BEST if you tried to speak to someone really in such cute way as your are doing now all over the comment section !
    If the internet is liberating us , why keeping it disconnected ? Try out what you tried out already here. 🙂
    I know you fear it, bu hey, I've you seen all those loooooveeeelyyyy replies and support and upvotes and whatever reddit star ?? They're all from real people just like you… Imagine if you reached one IRL with this adorable and smart personnality that the internet helped you forge with security and Kurzgesagt hihi (thanks internet ! )
    We know what you feel bro 🙂 let's share this ! It does not have to be grounded in reason, or with a long paragraph like this one here…
    Just a small part smart part fragile part cute comment ! 😀
    I have received these type of comments IRL by really strong beautiful persons and it's such a gift (that we can all do) that it need to be shared
    enjoying and using these rare moments when you feel… well.. not down !
    looooveeee you <3

  7. One thing that comes from loneliness that is disastrous and this video may overlook is it makes people have no choice but to join organization or gang of friends who do bad things. Some people may laugh it off. "Because you are lonely, you join a gang?" Yes. Loneliness is that powerful. People join cult and gang and some perverted niche group because they need someone to talk to. When family members, workplace, don't do it for them; vulnerable people would rather be evil than be alone.

  8. My brain: Dude this friend is annoying and he/she's stealing the time u wanted to do things alone, quit being with him/her
    Me: Okay dude
    Me: (Does thing I wanted to do)
    Me: WHAT TF IS WRONG WITH U????????

  9. No matter how dangerous loneliness is, there is no cure for it; in this cruel world, you can't just make friends with a snap of a finger like you could 60 years ago. Most people are fake. It's borderline impossible to make real friends. Most people that you'd consider your friend probably don't even consider you a friend. I have never had a real friend in my 16 years of life. Most of the friends that I've had have taken advantage of me, said mean things about me, pretended to be my friend and one day just never talked to me again. None of them would ever text me first. Quite a few of my ex friends have ditched me for their other friends, one even raped me. It's a new generation and loneliness is not curable for the last of the good people in this world.

  10. "Loneliness can kill you"

    And you are saying it like it's a bad thing ? Jeez try to be more optimistic at least if you die quicker you will suffer less .. right ?

  11. im going to give advice to ppl who have been cut off bc "moving on" is easier said then done…. chances are if you are being cut off you may feel lonely and rejected. in AA and other groups that makes one better themsleves, they say to put yourself through 6 groups. as in go out and find club sports, youth groups, social events, volunteer, do bible study, help the youth. just find something to consistantly be apart of… will you meet your bestfriend? who knows but that aint the goal. the goal isnt to replace your friend but do something spontanious. meeting so many people and being apart of new groups will fill you up and help you move on and ( hopefully ) you will have fun! hope this helps 🙂

  12. I think many people watched this video but didn’t totally absorb its contents. The point isn’t to just accept that you’re lonely, but to try and change it during your everyday life. Try and reach out to someone who may be experiencing it too at work, or at school, or maybe strike up conversation. You can’t get over that anxiety and that feeling of loneliness if you don’t try. People are scary, and seeing the potential of messing up a social interaction is scary as well, but you won’t get better at it if you don’t practice. It’s like drawing, or playing music, or even online gaming. Sure, you can do the same thing for hours and be content with your progress, but sometimes you have to try new techniques, strategies, even seek help for those parts you just can’t seem to get right. You all can do it, trust me, I do believe in you.

  13. I'm in the odd class lol I love being alone and hate talking to people to the point I leave mid conversation because I get so agitated I love my job because I dont need to talk to anyone and I'm in a cell by myself 🥰

  14. I've been lonely for such a long time despite the fact I live with my two older brothers. I keep to myself and spend a lot of my time on the internet , watching TV or listening to music. I've wasted my life and really have no one to blame but myself. I would love to have a girlfriend but l never go out and expect them to come knocking on my door lol But seriously I just want to be loved and share special moments with a partner. I daydream about having a girlfriend and how great it would be.

  15. Wow, I thought i just hated being with other people, turns out I yearn for friendly social interactions, but I'm too afraid of hurting them or myself.

  16. when it's your time to share but you were disrupted by that friend, then all of the attention goes back to that friend. i really hate that feeling; reason why i love being with my gadgets than with humans.

  17. I always think that each of us has it's own world inside our mind, that's why sometimes i feel miserable or crazy thinking alone.

  18. Im lonely because i been avoiding people as to protect myself and lazinese..but i make bad assumption first when i want to get to know someone..cause at least i know whats the worse that could happen..it hurts to be lonely, but like the its hurt to be rejected and feeling isolated

  19. “Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity, and as dangerous as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day”
    What if I'm fat, smoke pack a day and lonely? Should be dead by now..

  20. Sadly, these tips don't help much. All I feel is being reminded of my mental state. Currently I feel extremely lonely and isolated, though I do still have a social circle and people who care. Though the progress shifts exactly as described in this video towards rejecting invitations, rejecting people and isolating self even more, despite yearning for relationships. Alongside develops a severe depression. In this state there is not much point to anything. Neither paid work nor volunteer work are mending, neither are weekend events. It just gets worse.

  21. A lot of time you are better off alone to be honest, not having to deal with the BS society has laid out for you is good actually.

  22. This came out 7 mos ago, one of the single darkest times of my life. I almost killed myself, repeatedly set "death dates," and felt lonelier than ever no matter what I tried. I wanted to go to sleep and just never wake up!!! But watching this one, I started to feel like learning about depression, loneliness" and mental illness, might strengthen my side of the battle against it. I am excluded, but I can find a new way to deal with it it and see where I can fit in again.

  23. People view me as a social butterfly, I can excel in many social environment. I have tons of friends, but I feel quite lonely at times. The strange thing is, I don't really care whenever I'm by myself.

  24. You know,You don't need to be lonely because literally everyone is lonely..it's actually annoying,just be truthful and stop acting lonely.If you are lonely,STOP COMMENTING,Get Help rather than do nothing.

  25. Ghosted by the one I've loved with all my heart and soul lead me to this sheer loneliness and I know I have to bear this alone…

  26. I’m not going to lie this video kinda helped, it’s made me think in a different way you know. Thanks allot this was great

  27. The worst is having friend and telling them how they make you feel unwanted and left out or how your brain (now I know is definitely me) makes you think that you are being left out by picking up social cues the wrong way.
    I'm the kind of person thatwill look for anyone that might hear me out because I hate being alone. When I'm alone all my dark thoughts and overthinking do their tricks on me and they sink me into this rabbit hole that never leads to wonderland. It sucks and it hurts. Is like being in a constant breakup and the heartache is unbearable.
    Overcoming something like that alone sucks. We are after all social animals that thrives from connecting and bonding with others. I did found a oerson like that and by being my depressing me I pushed hin away and there's no way to having that person back into my life. It feels like grieving but the worst part isthat is alive abd well but just not sharing their time with you.

  28. this is a recommended video, that have been recommended for me. huuuuhhn….im like that, but i just feel lonely, but i want to

  29. I don't matter in the eyes of the people I care about the most. The two people I feel closest to only keep in touch out of pity. We've literally hung out for 2 hours in the past 3 months. I'm probably going to relapse.

  30. My school had a speech about trying to help new kids by being their friends and speaking to them….

    Still, nobody talks to me at lunch..

  31. This video, and optimistic nihilism have been the 2 most emotionally awakening videos I have ever seen, I would have never realized how I felt about these topics if it wasn’t so beautifully explained like you guys did. I do feel lonely, and i have experienced everything that was shown in the video. It lately has become to a point where it’s becoming a literal physical pain, like I often feel this pain and pressure in my chest when I’m sad. I also seem to be thinking the worst of others, if someone says something to me I often feel like it had a double meaning, and that they were trying to tell me something bad even thou what they said wasn’t even all that. And I sometimes feel like it’s better to just seal up all these feelings, lock myself away from everything and everybody and hoping that it will fade away, it never goes away, the pain just becomes stronger until you find yourself crying and yearning so hard for a simple hug. Your heart feels empty. And I’m actually very good in social gatherings, I’m not shy, I speak and express my opinion on things, I ask questions, I participate and I show empathy, but none of that fills the void.

  32. In the beginning it's hard to deal with loneliness, but with time, you get used and became normal, unless, if you stay depressed. But, in other hand, if you have a good solitude you can even feel happy alone. 😉

  33. Absolutely spot on. I want to make friends buts it's hard putting yourself out there. As 21 year old guy at college am trying to make friends but it's damn hard

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