At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text (and shop and go on Facebook) during classes and when we’re on dates. My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done....Toward the end, she takes a completely different tack. It's not that we don't do live conversation, it's that we don't know how to be alone:
[I]n our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.If you don't need people to be really here to be with them, then you don't ever have to be alone. Almost everyone now has — without particularly trying — become the kind of person who would say things like I'm never alone when I have a book, and that used to be an oddball, a possibly admirable oddball, or an genuinely admirable intellectual. But now that it's everybody, it's a problem. Everyone's reading and writing all the time.
We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely.