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How Society Is Designing Us To Be Lonely

How Society Is Designing Us To Be Lonely

Mike Colaw
How Society Is Designing Us To Be Lonely

It was 1953. Polio was tearing through society, leaving a wake of death and deep suffering. As with most historical seasons of widespread sickness, fear quickly grasped society. Physical suffering morphed into metaphysical disillusionment.

Jonas Salk A Life
Jonas Salk: A Life*

A brilliant doctor by the name of Jonas Salk had an idea that would not only revolutionize medicine, it would embolden a growing worldview that people bought into by the millions…billions.

Dr. Salk didn’t only develop a vaccine for polio, he kicked into hyperdrive the already existing idea that science would solve humanity’s problems. On the historical heels of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, the widespread belief that suffering wouldn’t be fixed by religion but by man’s sheer evolutionary advancement through the sciences caught fire. Anything that was perceived to stand against scientific advancement was quickly becoming the enemy of society.

But something happened… is happening.

Advancement isn’t fixing our broken heart, it’s revealing it.

We’ve just become more advanced as we emotionally suffer. The civil answers modern man built are collapsing under the weight of depression, loneliness, and disillusionment. A report by Making Caring Common highlights a significant loneliness crisis in the U.S., with 36% of Americans, 61% of young adults, and 51% of mothers with young children reporting serious loneliness.

Additionally, a CDC survey reveals that 63% of young adults are experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety and depression, indicating a profound impact on mental health among this group.

Do people still trust in the civil institutions and classic sciences the Modern era built? The answer hangs in the air like a dirty diaper. The institutional aroma is quite sour to many people and the number appears to be growing. As Pew Research and others have made abundantly clear, people are abandoning Modernity’s hope.

Who now trusts the government?
Less and less people.

Who now trusts big businesses?
Less and less people.

Who now trusts Ivy League schools?
Less and less people.

The postmodern era is upon us. As people give up on institutions, governments, big business, family heritage and religious practices of the past there is a new mantra showing up everywhere. From Disney movies to social media influencers the “new” (it’s not new, just regurgitated) answer is clear and clearly postmodern.

  • Trust in your own heart.
  • You do you.
  • Live your own truth.


This is postmodernity. This is society’s growing rejection of Dr. Salk’s (and others) assertions. Postmodernity is an engine for loneliness, its Achilles heel.
You now trust in your own heart, first. You do you above all others. You live your own truth. Postmodernity has an Achilles heel. In short order it’s already tripping us all up. Here is how.

Postmodernity Is Tripping Us Up

Imagine I have a room full of young musicians. They desire to play and sing. Imagine half of them are playing instruments that are out of tune to the instrument next to them. Instead of tuning to an external note they begin to fight with each other, claiming that everyone needs to accept their definition of in tune. Not only this, now they all want to play different songs. Now, some in the room decide this is dumb and want to play soccer. Others decide they want to swim, that’s their truth for the space they are in. That little world becomes a place of utter chaos. People can’t even hear their own disharmonious sound because everyone is desperately trying to play their truth over the next person. What happens?


Distance from others is the only way a lot of people can live out their own truths. I believe this is why C.S. Lewis paints hell as a place of vast separation between people by their own choice. They are angry and bitter that others won’t let them live their own truths. They are unwilling to admit that forcing others to submit to their version of truth is a rejection of the very life philosophy they hang on to white knuckled.

The god we all hate and are desperately trying to become.

When the postmodern person can’t find the space to self-actualize, what happens? The only way to stay together is by forcing your will on to others, a functional rejection of the philosophy, that everyone should live their own truth. Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch now wins the day, but only until the next Superman knocks him off his throne. Power over others becomes the hated god people are trying to become. This is a society-wide cognitive dissonance.

People want this power while screaming that they hate it. Still our hearts are broken. And still the original problem hasn’t been solved…we have a sea of hurting broken hearts. Nothing has fundamentally changed. Postmodernity also leads to loneliness and more suffering. Is there an answer to the cultural suffering that we are cultivating?

You Must Submit

Yes. You must willingly submit to a conductor. This acknowledges you are out of tune, adding to the chaos and in need of help. This submission to the conductor also gives scaffolding for something collectively beautiful to be created. I can hear it. “That’s just Nietzsche’s ‘Superman,’ right?”
Not necessarily. Actually, necessarily, no.

Here is the one key difference that produces glorious communal beauty or endless lonely suffering. The most powerful being in the universe directly addressed the very people who utterly destroyed and distorted his good world by sending His Son to win them over and relationally save them. It would have been so much easier if it was only about power. Imagine Jesus marching on the Pantheon with a legion of angels. He could have devastated Rome and obliterated sinful selfish man.

He didn’t do that.

Instead, He is embodied love and perfectly expressed it. Christ is perfect charity perfectly embodied and submission to this perfect love attunes us all into glorious forever friendships. You are designed to want real loving community and the only way to truly embody this is willingly submitting to perfect love, Jesus.

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This is a followup article based on Mike Colaw’s first piece in this series called: “You Are Being Rewired to Struggle with Friendships and Romantic Relationships“.
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Books by Mike Colaw

Understanding the Book of Ruth   Friendship Redefined   Understanding the Book of John

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