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New York City
See a Problem?
You die alone. Indeed, her choice to leave home and wander a foreign city is itself a rich metaphor for the paradoxical nature of loneliness, animated by equal parts restlessness and stupor, capable of turning one into a voluntary vagabond and a catatonic recluse all at once, yet somehow a vitalizing laboratory for self-discovery. There were things that burned away at me, not only as a private individual, but also as a citizen of our century, our pixelated age. What does it mean to be lonely? Is sex a cure for loneliness, and if it is, what happens if our body or sexuality is considered deviant or damaged, if we are ill or unblessed with beauty? And is technology helping with these things? Does it draw us closer together, or trap us behind screens? Bedeviled by this acute emotional anguish, Laing seeks consolation in the great patron saints of loneliness in twentieth-century creative culture.
Deep down, we all know other people's lives aren't as fabulous as they may appear to be on social media. Still, it can be hard to remember this when we're flicking through Instagram Stories, watching people have fun, and subsequently feeling lonely and isolated. In cities especially —where the majority of us live today—feelings of loneliness can be compounded by the fact that we're surrounded by millions of people who all seem to be having a great time with one another, while we're at home alone, binge-watching Netflix until it asks us if we're still there. Research has shown that loneliness is an important mental health issue and a potentially bigger public health risk than smoking and obesity. The UK government recently appointed a minister for loneliness to help fix a problem that affects around 9 million British people, young and old. Breaking out of a cycle of loneliness can be hard because the fewer people you speak to, the sooner you'll feel like you're the only person in the world dealing with it—which is why many campaign groups are pushing for a more open, society-wide discussion about the issue. VICE Netherlands spoke to five international students who moved away from their friends and family to Amsterdam, to start what they hoped would be a thrilling new chapter of their lives. Instead, they found that making new connections in a strange city is a lot harder than they'd anticipated and that their loneliness affects every aspect of their lives. But the reality just isn't as exciting as I had hoped. I spend all my time working and don't have many friends.
Molly Guy, creative director of Stone Fox Bride, responds to queries about relationships, love, weddings, and everything in between. Send your questions to dearmolly stonefoxbride. I moved to Austin, Texas, from L. I am starting a new job that I am stoked for on Monday.