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Orson Welles once wrote: "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone." In addition to our daily intellectual discussions, Braincrave.com is also a dating website for people who like to think. We recognize that those who like to think often feel isolated because of their ideas or what drives them. In other words, we know that thinkers often feel lonely. Through social networking, it's as if the technology age has allowed us to put up invisible, electronic walls - creating faux friendships where we are connected to everyone, yet evermore alone. The days pass with reduced, meaningful relationships, and all of a sudden we find ourselves depressed from our physical and mental solitude.

Psychologists know that solitary confinement can make a person crazy. Loneliness can even lead to serious illness (including cancer). Animals get lonely. You might say that plants use positive allelopathy to solve their loneliness. Heck, even bacteria get lonely. For some, loneliness is so painful that they will do just about anything to get rid of the feeling, from creating imaginary friends by turning on the TV to marrying someone they don't love or even suicide. Companionship is so important to people. The Beatles wrote their famous Eleanor Rigby song about it. Why is it so important to us? Is loneliness an evolutionary feeling that encourages people to come together in order to better survive? How do you solve an individual's persistent loneliness? Are there any benefits to solitude? Should society be doing more to reduce loneliness?


Loneliness, Cacioppo argues, isn't some personality defect or sign of weakness - it's a survival impulse like hunger or thirst, a trigger pushing us toward the nourishment of human companionship. Furthermore, he writes, "people who get stuck in loneliness have not done anything wrong. None of us is immune to feelings of isolation, any more than we are immune to feelings of hunger or physical pain."

Being lonely isn't the same as being alone, Cacioppo is careful to clarify. Lonely people can be surrounded by coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family. They're no less attractive or intelligent or popular. What sets the lonely apart is a sense that their relationships do not meet their social needs.

That uneasy feeling goes back aeons. Loneliness was, Cacioppo believes, a powerful evolutionary force binding prehistoric people to those they relied on for food, shelter, and protection, to help them raise their young and carry on their genetic legacy. Cacioppo also points to the long years children spend utterly dependent on their parents. "It's a good decade before they're going to be able to survive on their own," he says. Small wonder that isolation makes people feel not only unhappy but also unsafe...

Twenty percent of Americans, about 60 million people, Cacioppo estimates, suffer from loneliness that is chronic and severe enough to be a major source of unhappiness. One study, for instance, asked respondents to list the number of confidants they had. In 1985 the most frequent answer was three. In 2004, when researchers repeated the survey, the number had dropped to zero. One-fourth of participants, drawn from a cross section of the American public, reported having no one to talk to intimately.

The reasons for this rise in social isolation are well documented: American life is less rooted and more hectic now than in the past. Jobs and friendships are transitory; rates of divorce and single parenting are high. More people move away from home, and more people live alone - that number has increased by 30 percent in the past 30 years, Cacioppo says.

Onto this landscape, social media - Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn - erupted, exerting an influence more complicated, Cacioppo says, than some people might think. People who use the Internet to generate or enhance in-person relationships benefit, he says. But when online connections substitute for face-to-face ones, users become lonelier and more depressed. Lonely people are likely to use the Internet as a crutch, the nonlonely as a leverage. "So," Cacioppo says, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Lonely Together


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Mar 3, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=490

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We all admire beauty, but the mind ultimately must be stimulated for maximum arousal. Longevity in relationships cannot occur without a meeting of the minds. And that is what Braincrave is: a dating venue where minds meet. Learn about the thoughts of your potential match on deeper topics... topics that spawn your own insights around what you think, the choices you make, and the actions you take.

We are a community of men and women who seek beauty and stimulation through our minds. We find ideas, education, and self-improvement sexy. We think intelligence is hot. But Braincrave is more than brains and I.Q. alone. We are curious. We have common sense. We value and offer wisdom. We experiment. We have great imaginations. We devour literacy. We are intellectually honest. We support and encourage each other to be better.

You might be lonely but you aren't alone.

Sep, 2017 update: Although Braincrave resulted in two confirmed marriages, the venture didn't meet financial targets. Rather than updating our outdated code base, we've removed all previous dating profiles and retained the articles that continue to generate interest. Moving to valME.io's platform supports dating profiles (which you are welcome to post) but won't allow typical date-matching functionality (e.g., location proximity, attribute similarity).

The Braincrave.com discussion group on Second Life was a twice-daily intellectual group discussions typically held at 12:00 PM SLT (PST) and 7:00 PM SLT. The discussions took place in Second Life group chat but are no longer formally scheduled or managed. The daily articles were used to encourage the discussions.

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