“Work in Progress” It is now recognized by psychology professionals that loneliness has become a pandemic, with ever increasing segments of the world’s population who describe themselves as ‘lonely’. This despite the numerous ways in which social media has facilitated ‘connecting’ us with one another. While it is ironic, it is not mysterious. The ability to connect with other people - for work, for friendship, for love, is a deeply personal interaction between two people involving a complex interplay of cognitive and sensory faculties that must be negotiated in person. But the laws of attraction have become subverted by the internet Siren’s hollow promise of connection via virtual relationships that are ultimately no more satisfying to our emotional hunger than staring at a picture of food is to a starving person. And the more people become slaves to their electronic devices, the more degraded their interpersonal skills become. The more time spent trying to ‘connect’ electronically, the less chance of connecting at all. It’s a self-defeating cycle the result of which has become, not surprisingly, an epidemic of loneliness. This photo, taken in the subway tunnel in downtown Hong Kong, epitomizes this dilemma. Two youths, potential friends or even lovers, absorbed in their devices, perhaps not so much unaware of each other as subtly but actively avoidant, even their stances at slight angles away from one another. But while the e-world may seem safe, it is isolating. Real relationships require face-to-face interaction, a necessary but admittedly frightening leap into the unknown, made palatable because of an implicit shared understanding that each relationship is always a work in progress, a continuing series of iterations towards common goals, be it work, friendship, or love. Electronic connectivity has become a false prophet of satisfaction whose instant gratification nullifies the desire to do the hard work of interacting in person, which many people now find too frightening to undertake. But the cost of avoiding this work is high - an emotional and physical divide.
#PhotoJournalism #HongKong #Loneliness #Depression #Relationships #Love