I have been reading about loneliness and it seems we don't know much about it. I am reading a book called 'the lonely city' by Olivia Laing which discusses specifically art and loneliness.
I haven't progressed far into the book but she has discussed how loneliness isn't a subject that has been explored especially by psychologists - until perhaps very recently.
A lot of people will tell you how useful loneliness is and can be in that once you transcend the need for others and make peace with yourself you can become extremely productive. I guess if you are alone, there is no one to interrupt your work. And that is great if you can make peace with yourself and move into a productive place.
I know people who have turned to work or some art form as a result of loneliness and gained a sense of purposefulness, while others turned to other addictions. I guess it depends on the nurture you received when you were young to figure out how to deal with the demons that inhabit your soul.
I think some loneliness can be dealt with by physical touch. As Simon and Garfunkel aptly put:
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
I don't know how this works for lonely women... or how prostitutes deal with their clients with COVID-19. But casual sex must be now extremely difficult to deal with right now.
In Japan you could rent a friend if you needed some company, where customers sometimes cry when they shake hands because no one has touched them for so long. But these articles are from before COVID-19. We in the west are much more embarrassed to admit the weakness of being alone. Instead we had psychologists and fortune tellers for those lonely for company to talk to, if you have money. But politicians know you can buy popularity by paying people to attend their rallies.
On both sides of the Pacific money can buy you friendship I guess.
But I think touch is the shortcut root to connection, whether it is sex or genuine affection. (I think sex is a substitute for genuine affection, as a lot of people equate 'a lot of sex' with a healthy marriage because sex can provide intimacy, because it's not masculine to need affection or intimacy - it is acceptable for men to have sex though - despite the consequences for the woman.) We humans need affection - and I think affection is confused with sex for a lot of adults (men) - and also there is an embargo on physical touch in our society because of that confusion. I think this is why men say kids and others are 'asking for it' when the kid just wants affection (Yes, you can touch and be affectionate non-sexually, although google doesn't think so, although this article suggests getting massages, and haircuts, among other things. Perhaps loneliness is why some people visit the doctor regularly?).
It's a mess. Is this why some men grope women? Perhaps they should get a pet, if they can learn to pet it rather than ... - I don't want to think about it.
But they have done research to prove it's a thing, apparently NBA teams that touch more, win more. And these are guys who don't go around having sex in public.
Anyway the confusion surrounding touch, I think, contributes to loneliness. Although touch isn't helping those trapped at home lonely with COVID-19. I do know we all need each other and we all need to be needed and that can be expressed in so many ways - whether it is by being active politically or being part of an online community. There are other ways of sating loneliness.