The Soul on Starvation Rations

Our online support networks help us foster identities that leave us partially nourished, existentially, spiritually, or, at least, malnourished but not starving, so that we can survive with fewer contacts and a more threadbare community in the real world. 

But that isn’t enough, these fleeting exchanges; glancing jousts in forest glades with chance-met knights; brief flings, and misty, perpetually-dissolving alliances. They always leave us alone in the end.

We are social creatures and crave society. A large part of our identity resides in being recognised by another living, breathing person whose judgement we trust because they have seen a much fuller version of us than the edited highlights we allow online. They were with us, doubled up with laughter, when we puked outside The Prince of Wales; they’ve heard us burp and say the dimmest things. We must be worth something if they still want to be friends with us. 

Maybe the anger of the internet warriors is driven by this frustration: the lack of genuine relationships. Perhaps they need the passion and intensity to substitute for actual, physical companionship, “Just being with another guy”, as Crooks calls it, in Of Mice and Men, which is really a study of loneliness[1]. People go a bit weird when they’re starving. I should know. 

[1] John Steinbeck (originally 1937), Penguin Red Classics, 2006,

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