“IT IS not good for man [a human being] to be alone.” — Genesis 2:18
Last Wednesday, we have explored briefly the Adolescent Loneliness Epidemic (ALE). Adolescence is a period of psychosocial chaos because of it being a stage of transition from childhood to adulthood. They want to be adults but the heart and mind say, “Not yet.” The challenge in this stage is to stay true to oneself and one’s Christian virtues, and not be swayed by the comforting temptations being offered in some social circles.
A wrong choice of friends can be deadly as far as their future is concerned. Nevertheless, abstract thinking develops so that adolescents learn to develop a capacity for love and spiritual consciousness, which are usually more developed among adults. This increased sensitivity also leads to a subtle awareness of solitude and loneliness. Merriam-Webster has similar definitions of loneliness and solitude: “Being without company” or “Cut off from others.” Oftentimes, it is both literal and symbolic. It is so because the presence of friends provides only a brief respite from this loneliness and solitude.
Some psychologists offer an explanation for this so-called “evolutionary theory of loneliness” (ETL), proposing that loneliness constitutes an adaptive inheritance. In fact, some suggested that genes might have a role in this inherited response. However, researchers Spithoven, Cacioppo, Goossens and Cacioppo, as reported in the Perspectives on Psychological Science (2019), found no genetic connection for loneliness, and instead attributed it to environmental factors.
Conversely, biblical literature appears to demonstrate that loneliness and solitude can be traced as far back to the creation of the first human being. In Chapter 2 in the book of Genesis, God created the first human. However, even if surrounded by many creatures, he felt the gnawing solitude. The first human being was among many creatures but essentially alone.
This solitude and loneliness rise up in humans during their adolescence and, since then, never leaves adult men and women. In fact, it may be reasonable to conclude that God created the first human being at its adolescent stage of development because the emergence of solitude came after human creation. You will seldom find a lonely child. Loneliness is not yet in the mind of the child; bored, maybe, but not lonely.
In his “Theology of the Body,” Pope St. John Paul II called this the “original solitude.” An adolescent has a gnawing need to commune with others, which American-German psychologist Erik Erikson recognized as the resolution of the problem of identity. John Paul II also affirmed that search for identity, which led God to decide to create the first woman as companion of the first man.
However, for fallen adolescents and human beings, discretion must be prudently exercised to avoid falling into the wrong crowd.