Loneliness in a Digital World


“New Year’s resolution time, best way to make your body healthier.”

We live in a world which communication is simpler and easier. We send a family member a “Hey, how are yah?” text because we have to wait for the girl behind the counter to make our cappuccino.

We don’t have the time to order two of them and stop at Mom’s house to surprise her anymore — or do we? Could you spare fifteen extra minutes?

So maybe it’s not your Mom. Maybe it’s your brother, sister or just a friend that you could surprise. Stop in unexpectedly!

What if I told you, you have a magic pill in your pocket and you could make both your friend and yourself feel incredible for a whole day. What if I told you the magic pill could save both you and your friend’s lives?

The Chemicals


Here’s what happens, you’re getting ready to order your coffee and you think of your friend. You smile and your brain instantly releases a chemical called dopamine, it feels good. As you walk out of the coffee shop with your two cups of coffee, you have a spring in your step.

You get into your car and as soon you turn down your friends street: bam, another shot of dopamine is released. You get out of your car and you get another hit! Your brain’s anticipation of making someone feel good is making you feel amazing! Dopamine!

The door opens, and your friend is blown away by seeing you and by the kindness of a hot cup of coffee. They reach out to you and give you a big hug — now oxytocin steps in!! Oxytocin is another chemical your brain releases it is also called the “cuddle drug.” (I like the name ?)

Dopamine and Oxytocin are two chemicals we require as humans to live a healthier life.


Oxytocin cannot be found by scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or just sending friendly text messages to your friends. (And no, just because you put a smiley face with a heart doesn’t make it a face to face conversation or a hug.)

Dopamine, on the other hand, you can get online. It gets a little more dangerous though.

Dopamine has highs and lows, and that’s why they call it “a shot of dopamine.” Dopamine is addictive- just like alcohol and gambling.

Do you ever wonder why when you get on Instagram, it doesn’t immediately show how many likes and new follows you have? It takes several seconds, like a slot machine. When it does pop up, you get a shot of dopamine.

Same thing with Facebook: the more the likes you get, the more hits of the feel-good drug. Just like the the other releases of dopamine (gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc.,) once you take a break, you can’t stop thinking about the next hit. You pick up your phone, and once again fall victim to this vicious cycle.

All of these media companies do little things to keep you addicted. The more time you spend on their platform, the more ad money they make. Former Google employee Tristan Harris can tell you his story.

Your Turn

Going back, I said that you have a magic pill that could save your life and your friend’s.

The magic pill is you! It’s all of us! We need to put away our phones and make face to face interactions. Without these two chemicals properly functioning, daily loneliness sets in and depression starts. If depression doesn’t lead to alcoholism or drugs, it will lead to autoimmune diseases, possibly leading to cancer.

Loneliness is becoming an epidemic at a 45% ratio for dying earlier. Look at that compared to excessive drinking being 30%, obesity 20% and air pollution 5%.

My challenge to you for 2019 is to get offline more and visit family and friends more – face to face!

Take that extra 15 minutes and $3 to share that cup of coffee with your friend, to send a hand written note to a loved one, or even just share an extra kind word with someone.

It may have a bigger impact than you think!

Happy New Year!

Rita Jane

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