All The Lonely People, Where Do They All Belong?

We all have a desire to belong somewhere. But, where we think we belong has changed.Eleanorfinal1nobordera

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong…

“Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles

In ages past, people tended to identify themselves by family, tribe, religion or class status. “I am Tom’s mother.” “I am a Catholic.” “I am a New Yorker.” These used to help form a picture of a person’s identity.

Populations are now on the move. The idea of the nation or place of residence as an identity is not as strong as it once was. There is a growing social stigma against all religions. Families break up, reform, break up again. Indeed, many people are choosing to be childless, so they are not going to find themselves in their progeny.

In the past, shows like “Friends” and “How I met Your Mother” were shows where friends met on a daily basis well past their school years. The popularity of these shows was based on our desire to belong to a group that wants our company. These were unrealistic scenarios as most people have hectic schedules. Also, the fact that people move around a great deal make it difficult to continue school friendships beyond graduation. And while we have social media, such as Facebook, these are a poor substitute for the physical human contact friendship provides.

Populations are aging, people are alone more hours of the day. I recently read an article that most adolescents spend more time alone on their phones and only leave the house with their parents. This is called the “atomizing of society” and it is a trend that I believe will continue to grow and be a cause of concern for the mental health of individuals for many decades to come.

These trends and the desire to belong is why many popular TV shows and books today focus on character over plot. Not knowing where to turn, we look for our identity in our stories. That is, we are looking for story characters to be the place where we fit in. We “belong” in someone else’s story. Whether that is wise or not, it is happening in our culture.

So, who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? Where do we all belong?

 

 

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The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.

 

 

 

 

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