loneliness is a social construct

I used to think there were worse things than feeling lonely such as being stuck in an unfulfilling relationship in order to escape loneliness. This was my logic before I met M. That feeling lonely was some kind of privilege those in relationships (this R word was like a death sentence to me) sacrificed. How silly my assumptions were back then! Everyone can feel lonely. But feeling alone, is something different alltogether. Loneliness is like a yearning, a pang for someone or something. Feeling alone is more like despair. Although I have problems differentiating betwen lonely and alone all of a sudden.

My trusty friend, the Wikipedia defines loneliness in the following way: "Loneliness is a state of feeling cut off from and longing for others, due to lack of contact (physically, emotionally, etc.) with people (whether acquaintances, friends, or loved ones). Loneliness is not to be confused with solitude (where a person may appreciate the time to think and reflect without distraction.)"

and Alone(from Princeton wordnet): alone(p): isolated from others; "could be alone in a crowded room"; "was alone with her thoughts"; "I want to be alone"
alone(p): lacking companions or companionship; "he was alone when we met him"; "she is alone much of the time"; "the lone skier on the mountain"; "a lonely fisherman stood on a tuft of gravel"; "a lonely soul"; "a solitary traveler"

It seems to me looking at these definitions that loneliness is a state of being while alone can be a physical or emotional isolation.

I don't feel either state very often anymore. Because M is always with me in some way and then there's my kitty who isn't so kitty anymore.

What I am beginning to understand is that loneliness acts a kind of social construct whereby single people are made to feel bad about themselves because they don't have someone to share their life/days/moments/whatevers with. It isn't enough that one might have great friends, a supportive family and a rich fulfilling job/career/hobby. If one doesn't have another person, a partner/lover then one is lonely, meaning empty. So what do lonely people need? This shirt or this perfume or this thing to make one attractive. Who goes to shopping centers? Lonely women in search of something. In Meghan Morris' essay "Things to do with Shopping Centres," she writes about "the vision of shoppingtown as Eden, or paradise: the shopping centre is figured as, if not exactly utopian, then a mirror to utopian desire, the desire of fallen creatures nostalgic for the primal garden, yet aware that their paradise is now an illusion"(397).

I don't mean to suggest that people do not feel lonely or that loneliness is not also material but so much outside of the self works to create a space/place for this loneliness. Think of how many films and other cultural texts create a need to "couple." Films where the girl is "alone" meaning without a mate and all her married friends try to "fix her up" with someone. Themes like this appear in quite clever ways in Sex and the City . Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie, questions the move from singlehood to couplehood. She calls into question the materiality of loneliness.

Loneliness is not a new construct by any means and I'm just starting to work some ideas out here so bear with me. And perhaps this is quite cynical of me but I see how this move is economic. If people partner up then there are dual incomes which means there's more money to spend, more debt to accrue, more ways to make sure each person is contributing to the economic machine. In addition, if society pushes a heteronormative agenda then it is sure to sustain itself through reproductive means. Although homosexual couples are often dual income no kids which means there's more money to spend, there's still a push to have/adopt kids.

Religion is just another way to push the agenda. Morality is created, manufactured. And I was going to go on about cloning but I think I"ll stop here and breathe and try to make more sense of this later.