Loneliness has become a plague of our time. It is spreading rapidly from the big cities in the West to the rest of the world and probably, in the not too distant future, this planet will be inhabited by billions of lonely people who feel that something is wrong, but will never understand the roots of their suffering. Their leading scientists will spend years trying to find the cure for an "illness" which appeared when consumer culture had become a way of life which is impossible to eradicate. In a few centuries it will alter our gene pool to adapt humans to the new environment.
Nowadays in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, more than 50% of the inhabitants live alone. It is interesting to note that no Swedish government has encouraged people to marry and live together, the reason is simple: lonely people spend more money. Many lonely people are bored with everyday life and they must compensate for their emptiness with new goods which will give them a feeling of satisfaction for at least a few moments.
I remember the feeling of loneliness I felt when I first came here and moved into my own flat. I felt such an anxiety, I had nobody beside/with me, and every morning I woke up with such tension that I could not stay in my flat for a second longer. I would drive for about an hour to the refugee camp, just to be with my fellow country men who were still waiting to be housed. I returned late every/each evening for a few hours sleep and the next morning I was away again. I, who had experienced a horrible/dreadful war and seen people being beaten and tortured, was defeated by Swedish loneliness/ in Sweden by loneliness!
Today I ask myself, how did I survive all these years; some of my country men and other immigrants unfortunately did not. They were found hanged, drowned, or killed when they threw themselves from the top of their apartment block/building, but I have survived. Sometimes, I feel like an old rock which has been battered by the wind, rain and sea but still stands firm and strong, of course there are furrows and fractures in some parts, but still it stands, witness to the struggles of the past.
I remember how people laughed at me when I told them about the pain I had been feeling in my soul. They did not want to hear about such things. They were busy with buying expensive new cars, furniture, TVs, computers and other gadgets. Now, more than fourteen years later, they stop me on the street to tell me of their own pain. They believed once when they had bought everything they dreamed about, that they would be happy, but now they understand how they lived in self-delusion. They did not understand that the system itself wants to see them empty and dissatisfied, because if everyone felt complete happiness/completely happy who would be buying all these goods?
The feeling of emptiness must be compensated with something; it must be fast, simple and have an immediate effect. Buying goods is a perfect first-aid, giving instant gratification. Reading books and similar activities which demand thinking takes so much time! And we all know that we modern humans have no time at all.
Whenever I go to the supermarket I am reminded of loneliness. I have been a customer in some of them for about fourteen years but during all this time I have not talked to anyone. The only exchange of words is when I pay at the check-out saying, "Hello" to the check-out assistant and she says "Hello" in return, followed by the sum I need to pay. Sometimes I have imagined how nice it would be just to ask one of them, "Would you like to follow/come with me to the restaurant this evening?”
However, I have never heard of such an event/a thing. In this country people are not used to giving compliments to each other, even a little gesture of kindness and tenderness can be interpreted wrongly and cause embarrassment, and Swedes are more afraid of being embarrassed than of death itself. A Swede who has disgraced himself has committed a mortal sin! Sometimes, I have sympathised with a Swede, watching him or her blushing all over, in a state of a complete confusion. I knew how they were feeling and how time passed so very slowly in those moments; but the Swedes are also human, although there is a tendency to transform them into machines. Let us hope they=[?who] will never succeed.
Once again you have written a very interesting article. . . thank you for sharing it! If there are any queries please do not hesitate to ask.
It must be very nice in Sweden now that summer is approaching and the days are brighter and light. . . . and the Swedes enjoy taking a picnic by the lake in the late evenings.
Best wishes for a nice day.