Simone Weil wrote, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” By this definition, our relationships to the world, and to one another, and to ourselves, are becoming increasingly miserly. Most of the time, most people are not crying in public, but everyone is always in need of something that another person can give, be it undivided attention, a kind word or deep empathy. There is no better use of a life than to be attentive to such needs. There are as many ways to do this as there are kinds of loneliness, but all of them require attentiveness, all of them require the hard work of emotional computation and corporeal compassion. attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. — Jonathan Foer

 

 

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+not+to+be+lonely&qpvt=images+not+to+be+lonely&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=55F36F872546A2F3EB6AEF516E4307C6E588590D&selectedIndex=154

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+not+to+be+lonely&qpvt=images+not+to+be+lonely&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=2A6404B583CFFDFEF08435244C0C98144A95338A&selectedIndex=10

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+not+to+be+lonely&qpvt=images+not+to+be+lonely&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=0713B0589520F3CE94FB46D619F242711F18153C&selectedIndex=136

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+not+to+be+lonely&qpvt=images+not+to+be+lonely&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=AFC20414A48BC26129CD7ED10D5158B347622A2B&selectedIndex=51

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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/how-not-to-be-alone.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=opinion

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How not to be lonesome

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Psychologists who study empathy and compassion are finding that unlike our almost instantaneous responses to physical pain, it takes time for the brain to comprehend the psychological and moral dimensions of a situation. The more distracted we become, and the more emphasis we place on speed at the expense of depth, the less likely and able we are to care.

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Most of our communication technologies began as diminished substitutes for an impossible activity. We couldn’t always see one another face to face, so the telephone made it possible to keep in touch at a distance. One is not always home, so the answering machine made a kind of interaction possible without the person being near his phone. Online communication originated as a substitute for telephonic communication, which was considered, for whatever reasons, too burdensome or inconvenient. And then texting, which facilitated yet faster, and more mobile, messaging. These inventions were not created to be improvements upon face-to-face communication, but a declension of acceptable, if diminished, substitutes for it.

But then a funny thing happened: we began to prefer the diminished substitutes. It’s easier to make a phone call than to schlep to see someone in person. Leaving a message on someone’s machine is easier than having a phone conversation — you can say what you need to say without a response; hard news is easier to leave; it’s easier to check in without becoming entangled. So we began calling when we knew no one would pick up.

Shooting off an e-mail is easier, still, because one can hide behind the absence of vocal inflection, and of course there’s no chance of accidentally catching someone. And texting is even easier, as the expectation for articulateness is further reduced, and another shell is offered to hide in. Each step “forward” has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.

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THE problem with accepting — with preferring — diminished substitutes is that over time, we, too, become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little.

 

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