dating-lonliness-phonesIt is 2015.

We are lonely.

This is not a statement I am deducing on my own, or that I am projecting onto all of you from my own bedfellowing with loneliness. Recent study after study has shown that social networking and this strange new ability to stay digitally connected to other people at all times of the day or night are making us (as individuals within a society) far more lonely than we ever have been in all of history.

For example… I went bowling a little while back with three friends. I hate bowling. I just suck at it. I can’t not throw the ball twenty feet in the air when I bowl. I’m guessing it’s because of my humongous stature and my glorious gorilla arms. But, these three friends wanted to go, so I swallowed my hatred for the sport, and away to the bowling alley we went. These were good friends. Really good friends, actually. And they were also friends I hadn’t hung out with in quite some time so I was pretty excited about seeing them.

About half way through the game, a miracle happened. The heavens opened, light shone down around our lane, some invisible force carried my bowling ball after I gorilla-arm lobbed it through the air, and… a STRIKE! I couldn’t believe it! I realized I might actually break 50 points on that game (if you don’t bowl, that ain’t good, trust me)!

I turned around with hands raised high in the air, ready to receive a first-rate barrage of high-fives just as I had previously been giving to my buddies for every strike knocked down in our game thus far. Instead, all three friends had their faces buried in their phones. No one had seen my strike. No one saw me standing with arms stretched high. Eventually I dropped my arms and kicked one friend in the shoe as I told him, “your turn.”

I was there that night with three close friends. And you know what? I was lonely in that moment. I was lonely most of that night. I am sure all of you have had similar moments recently. I am sure I have been the one buried in my own phone making other people feel lonely while I was absorbed in the far away digital world.

My friends, we are failing to remember the very real people sitting, and laughing, and doing things with us. We have an addiction which makes us chase that which isn’t real while negating that which most definitely is. We feel some sort of amazing rush when 10 people we barely know hit like or comment on pictures of what we’re doing with the people we’re with, than we are with actually doing what we’re doing and enjoying those people while we’re with them! I am not preaching here. I have done it as much as anyone else.

And nowhere is this as prevalent as it is in the dating world right now.

That rush we get with social networking? That validation we receive? That dopamine spike we experience when other people like or comment on our stuff? It all becomes greatly amplified in the dating world because in the dating world we’re getting likes and comments, but those likes and comments specifically are playing leapfrog with the more lonely parts of our minds. The lonelier we feel, the more it feels so good to have a constant barrage of strangers flirt back, or show interest, or like the photos we have posted, or comment on our dating profiles. We find ourselves constantly checking the inboxes of our dating websites and apps, even when we have no one we’re particularly interested in hearing from. We find ourselves giddy when a notification pops up on our phones after something (anything) has happened inside these things.

And because of that, dating has so quickly become so muddled, and so tricky, and so lonely, that we have to do something, and we have to do something fast, if we are going to save it.

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Dan Pearce is an American born writer, photographer, and artist. His books include "The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man" and "The Real Dad Rules." He is best known for his blog (and supporting Facebook page) "Single Dad Laughing," with 2 million followers as of 2018.