Loneliness has become an epidemic in Hong Kong. A recent study of working persons found that about a quarter of people in Hong Kong showed some form of anxiety. While one in twenty Hong Kongers exhibited symptoms of clinical depression, says Suveera, in her weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Five years ago, when I moved to Hong Kong, among other things that I took time to adjust to, was the fact that my phone never rang. It’s not that no one communicated, it’s just that texting is the norm. My new found ‘friends’ looked at me like I belonged to the medieval ages when they discovered that I did not use ‘WhatsApp’ (that is one thing that has changed now)
People would be surprised I chose to call them instead of texting. Soon I too learned the ways of the new city. No phone call, unless absolutely essential. Slowly, I too made the transition from the personal to the impersonal.
It was a major shift from my life in India in more ways than one. This was a city where there were ten apartments on one floor but we knew none of our neighbors.
Loneliness has become an epidemic in Hong Kong. A recent study of working persons found that about a quarter of people in Hong Kong showed some form of anxiety. While one in twenty Hong Kongers exhibited symptoms of clinical depression. This is alarming.
In this high tempo action oriented city, I see everyone running very fast to keep up. Maybe if we look back a part of us is left behind.
The balance in life has been forgotten. It should not be just about money and career. Caught in an endless cycle of work – home – screen, we live in a virtual world, greet our real friends over social media and hug them with emoticons. The line between humans and machines is blurred. We are living much like drones ourselves.
As the expanse of our social network online increases the depth of our relationship outside decreases. Friendships have become selfish and superficial limited to partying and drinking. Real friends and confidants are decreasing in everyone’s life. The kind of friends that are happy to kick you when they see you heading in the wrong direction. The all-weather friends whom you can call at 3 AM in the morning if you cannot sleep.
We have moved towards nuclear families with childhood friends and extended families living far away. With less and less people to share our worries with depression and mental disorder are at an all-time high.
We live in invisible cocoons scared to show and share our true selves with anyone, scared of the vulnerability that is required to truly bond with another person.
If we are not shaken out of this trance it will only get worse. Let us endeavor to get out of the matrix and meet friends and even acquaintances in 3D. Look away from that screen and smile at strangers.
Let’s not be afraid to talk about our feeling instead of happenings. Let emotions flow in person and let emoticons take a pause … once in a while. Our little ones are watching and more often than not they tend to follow what we do rather than what we say. So might as well we practice rather than preach.
So why not right now … let’s reach out for our phones and call one friend we haven’t heard from in a while or a friend we have been longing to call. Maybe they also are waiting for that phone to ring!
Photos by the author from the Internet
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Suveera Sharma is a postgraduate in English and a qualified software trainer. She is an avid reader and writer. Being the daughter of an army officer, she spent her childhood in various cantonments all over India. At present, she is settled in Hong Kong. She runs storytelling sessions for little kids and writes in her spare time.