Antonella Baccaro (photo by Carlo Furgeri Gilbert).

    «Stand you were for a day in the life of someone who is really alone, without having anyone to call in a moment of difficulty, perhaps you would feel some pain in the stomach due to loneliness too. True and unwanted loneliness exists. I find it hard to understand who suggests social media as a possible way to feel less alone”.

    This is just one of over 20,000 messages I’ve received in three years forum of the Corriere della Sera dedicated to singles. I’m talking about the last three years because they correspond to the pandemic period, but the column has existed since 2011. Not all posts are about loneliness but all are born from the desire to feel less alone.

    Therefore, I can say that I know what a single person thinks, what they want, what they don’t want to hear, what pushes them beyond the limits of common sense, prudence and, at times, decorum and finally desperation. I sometimes talk about it here too, because mostly women write, but the most dramatic posts are male.

    Women seem to keep a hope on the one hand, a certain pragmatism on the other that keeps them anchored to reality. Often, while remaining alone, they find support in prayer, in a passion, in self-respect.

    Men are more bitter, resentful, surrendered. The post published above is by a man. Towards the end he brings back the doubt that social media can be a comfort against loneliness. I found it paradoxical that such a thought was entrusted to a forum: a message in a bottle. I replied that our social network has served this purpose over the years, and that perhaps it could work for him too.

    But then the story of the boy who committed suicide came back to me after discovering that he had been chatting for a year not with a girl who said she loved him, but with a 64-year-old man. Who in turn has now committed suicide.

    Sentiment scams: how to recognize and avoid them

    And even if all our pity rightly went to the deceived boy, I think it was two solitudes that intertwinedto which the web provided an illusory relief before plunging both into tragedy.

    Proof of the fact that social networks are only a means. The rest, life (and death), is up to us.

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