Many humans feel that no one loves, cares, or understands them. They deserve a better future. I believe that transhumanists need to annihilate the sad, estranged, socially-disconnected emotion of loneliness by creating an abundance of cures.
First we must discard the notion that loneliness is an unavoidable sorrow. Writers like Thomas Wolfe who defined "Loneliness (as) the central and inevitable fact of human existence" need to be categorized as woefully pessimistic. Far better to examine the vision of Kurt Vonnegut who strived in novels such as Cat’s Cradle and Slapstick to "create communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured." Martha Beck of O Magazine also regards loneliness as "completely curable."
The desire to exterminate loneliness isn’t 21st century — both the radio and the telephone were heralded as inventions that would destroy isolation. In 1991, the New Democracy Party of Sweden trumpeted "abolition of loneliness" on its election platform, and Christopher Hitchens recently praised the internet for its success in combating the pitiful plague. But still, forecasters fear that the increasing numbers of people who live alone will inevitably produce a rise of loneliness.
Nobody wants that to happen, so I’ve put together a list of seven possible solutions:
Artificial Families: As birth rates in developed nations have plummeted, the huge clan assemblies of bygone eras have dwindled to tiny Christmas dinners. Familial bonds that homo sapiens require can no longer be provided by the genetically-linked. To alleviate this, we need to create large, serious, pseudo-family units with holiday and birthday gift obligations, assigned familial roles (maternal, filial, fraternal, etc.) financial obligations and encounter group intimacy. (Vonnegut illustrated this elixir in his "karass" team structure.) My opinion? Meatbag gatherings must be mandated and regularly-scheduled for "AFs" to succeed.
Robots: This enormous category can provide every type of companion, from Kama Sutra sex-droids to cute cuddly kitty-bots, to academic bicker-cyborgs that you can debate every topic with… and always win. Variations in-between will also proliferate, such as furry intellectuals that purr when petted, provide oral sex, and pontificate on post-nuclear issues. Perhaps all humans will choose to eternally link themselves with a "daemon" companion, like those that Philip Pullman’s characters enjoyed in his Dark Materials trilogy.
Flash Mobs: Spontaneously merging into large like-minded posses is a fabulous way to vanquish the solitary blues. I predict an explosion of future flash mobs, allowing everyone multiple choices throughout the day… i.e., Tuesday 7:30 pm, Political Rally at City Hall? Dance Jam on the Bridge? Food Fight at the intersection of First & Main? Look for an increase in late night activities, because that’s when many are loneliest, a condition that an orgy in a park might alleviate. Quiet mobs will also be popular: reading, attending films, hiking together.
Genetic Therapy: Scientists recognize that predisposition to loneliness is partially inherited. Lonely people also usually marry lonely people, thus amplifying the isolation risk in their offspring. In 10-20 years, the loneliness DNA could be located and surgically disposed in operations similar to the elimination of other maladies such as Parkinson’s. Another possibility is that our stock — a remnant from interdependent tribals that ate, slept and foraged together — could be "modernized" for post-Paleolithic life by lessening our need for extensive relationships.
Hologram Connection: Cell phones, emails, Skype — technology is assisting closer contact between far-away friends. The next step is Mutual Hologram Connection: people interacting as holograms, sharing space and mingling colors. Many people have "separation loneliness" — the the people they love most are physically unavailable. Hologram friendships would create togetherness as "light beings" that pantomime the distant meatbags. They could sleep together (non-tactile, of course). They could watch each other eat and masturbate. All in all, a huge upgrade in intimacy, especially for people who give "bad phone" and are awkward with two-dimensional Skype.
Insta-Art: Many people channel their loneliness into art. Music, poetry, and visual mediums are excellent ways to communicate, but… where’s the audience? Creative loners need an online community where their expression can be posted, with guaranteed immediate feedback… just a simple "I know where you’re coming from" would be helpful. There’s nothing sadder than a lonely painter painting lonely paintings alone that are seldom seen by anyone. Just ask Vincent van Gogh.
Chocolate and other Drugs: Raw chocolate (cacao) and dark chocolate are well-recognized as medicines that relieve "loneliness anxiety." Phenylethylamine (PEA) has been pinpointed as the crucial chemical. This antidote for lonely emotions needs to be advertised and ingested, along with other hormones and nootropics that provide us with a feeling of interspecies-camaraderie. Safe and effective varietals of presently illegal "social drugs" should also be created.
The massive sickness of loneliness can only be overthrown by a concerted societal effort. My suggestions are short, measly, skeletal, incomplete. Dear readers, if you’ve got any ideas - please participate by posting your cures in the Comment section below. If nobody does this, if my request is ignored, it will make me feel isolated, and well, you know…
Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Interim Managing Director and Fundraiser. He was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.
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