Xavier Toby

Men get lonely. So what? Tell someone who cares

While clinical depression is a serious condition not to be treated lightly, Xavier Toby thinks a recent report about “lonely men losing friends when they’re busy” is just another media beat up.

 

“Hey you. If you’ve got a problem, do something about it. Don’t talk about it. Nobody cares.”

As a man, I’ve heard this before. All the time actually, and in several different ways. After a girlfriend cheated on me, when I was shattered and expressed a need to discuss it, a friend told me:

“You need to stop talking and thinking about it right now. Nobody cares.”

When I was having a particularly hard time while performing at a comedy festival a female friend said:

“Nobody likes the sad guy. Stop being the sad guy.”

When I asked a family member for advice, he said:

“You’ve never asked before. So why ask now? Actually, the best advice I can give you is to figure it out for yourself.”

When I wanted some career advice from a manager at work I was told:

“A man’s job is to provide. You want a family? You won’t have time for feelings or any of that shit.”

I caught up with a friend to “talk”. He said,

“You wanted to talk? So start talking. I’m watching the footy.”

A study has just been released, which has found that “lonely men lose friends when life gets busy”. Apparently as work, family and other commitments eat up their time, men have less time for friends.

Here’s a survey question I’d like to ask:

“Where’s the survey that doesn’t just state the blindingly obvious while pretending it’s actually important?”

Then here’s a rule for newspapers:

“No more telling us common sense things as if they’re news. Unless you also tell us something worth knowing.”

According to this survey, one in four Australian men between 30 and 65 years of age have few or no social connections, and loneliness and isolation are common.

My response?

SO WHAT? BIG DEAL! NOBODY CARES.

Every one of my friends, male or female, has mostly or completely disappeared as they’ve settled into long-term relationships, started families, moved away, etc.

You only have so many hours in a day, and as your commitments increase, your time for friends whittles away to almost zero.

I don’t understand how this is news.

I’m not sure if it’s more a problem for men or women. I am a man, and I’ve noticed it happening to me. It’s called life.

So apparently this is an epidemic. Yes, life is an epidemic. It affects every one of us. The only cure is death.

Look, I’m sure some men are depressed and could do with more friends. So go and find someone to hang out with.

You’re sad and lonely? Go outside, go somewhere, do something, and keep trying until you stop feeling sad and lonely.

If you’ve got a problem, go and fix it. Stop whining about it. Seriously, there are so many bigger, harder and more challenging problems in the world than the combination of your loneliness and laziness that has led to you feeling sorry for yourself.

Go and talk to a professional if you want. No shame in it.

Simply put, refer to statement one, as above. It’s been told to me for a reason  it’s spot on. Here it is again:

If you’ve got a problem, do something about it. Don’t talk about it. Nobody cares.

 

Xavier Toby

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. His debut comedic non-fiction book about six months on a mining site 'Mining My Own Business' is available through UWA Publishing (http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/mining-my-own-business). For more writing, upcoming performance details and some embarrassing photos check out his website.

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6 Comments

  1. Xavier Toby said:

    Hey everyone, thanks for taking the time to read my piece. Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, I don’t usually reply to comments on my pieces.

    I agree that clinical depression is a serious issue. That’s not what this post is about. The only time it is mentioned is in the editors note at the top of the above article, stating what a serious thing it is and not to be taken lightly.

  2. Guest said:

    It might be intended as satirical, but I don’t think it really comes across that way in the end, there’s not nearly enough nods to the readers’ intelligence at seeing through the facade. Maybe that’s the fault of us readers, maybe we didn’t get it, who knows? Satire has a humourous obviousness about it usually, an ‘oh that’s so daft it must be a joke that goes to the core of humanity wah wah wah’ element, whereas this just comes across as a bit mean spirited – not so much sharing the love/hate as sharing the ‘fuck off I’ve got no time for you, you whiner’. I don’t write perfectly, and I often do it in an emotional, knee-jerk state, so ignore me at will (if you even got this far through the comment), but there it is.

  3. Akira Lasker said:

    This article is a bit misinformed. You say that you have empathy and share a concern for clinical depression in our society but you don’t particularly show it in this article. You see, the report about lonely men isn’t just some poor news item but is an important epidemiological fact as a lack of social connections is a significant risk factor for the very condition you show initial concern in.

    This is why this article is particularly concerning because this oversight is significant as it downplays the spiral effect that occurs with clinical depression: the lack of social networks creates an emotional state of anxiety and/or depression which inhibits ones ability to ‘just go out’ that continues to further inhibit their ability to do said solution. The lack of empathy that this article shows greatly contributes to this cycle as the individual feels pressured to not share because he will not be given the support he needs. Instead, he is given the rather callous response that he SHOULD be able to go out and fix the problem because he doesn’t have time to talk about the cognitive distortions that inhibit his ability to do this. Clients require breathing space and TIME to fix the problem, not arbitrary deadlines that more often then not create despair instead of motivation for such individuals

    Now, I used the word ‘cognitive distortion’ very specifically as this refers to the irrational state of mind that depressed (or the socially anxious for that matter) individuals experience. Yes, in an ideal environment your statement that you should just go out is indeed quite helpful but the depressed or one who is developing depression cannot see any wisdom in such advice or see any irrationality in their own actions (the fact that they object to being isolated whilst actually isolating themselves). These people NEED to be able to talk about the problem, talk through the thoughts, before they can ‘do’ and ‘fix it.’ This goes the same for the deadline: although one should fix a problem as quickly as possible before it develops, the depressed or socially anxious individual is more likely to see this conclusion as a reason to give up because they cannot possibly do anything about their problem! Or so it seems to them anyways until they can talk through the thoughts.

    The only way I agree with your article is if your statement is amended to include the need to speak to a GP, psychologist or psychiatrist. I have no respect for those who clearly know that something is wrong with their mental health and refuse to see professional help about it.. yet I remain empathetic to their situation and nonetheless help them take this vital step… to talk about it.. because talking about it IS doing something.

    [unless this article is indeed a form of satire, I have to conclude that this is quite the bit of click baitarino]

    [all of this coming from someone who studies psychology from his university library, has experienced clinical depression + dysthymia/social anxiety disorder as diagnosed and corroborated by THREE psychiatrists, has overcome said conditions and knows people with other scary conditions such as bipolar and schizo-affective depression]

  4. Troy Alexander said:

    Basically what I wanted to say.

    Perhaps it’s supposed to be satirical though?

  5. Lachlan R. Dale said:

    This article is concerning.

    Xavier, you recall an experience where you received little to no sympathy from family or friends regarding a heart-rending break-up.

    Your answer seems to be to perpetuate that same sense of heartlessness and lack of empathy toward other affected people.

    The way your friends and family handled that situation is not to be commended, nor repeated.

    The problem with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety is that their pull is so great that people cannot just simply ‘go do something about it.’ It is not an issue of ‘being lazy.’

    Consider the more extreme cases here. An average of seven people commit suicide in Australia every single day. Is your callous advice likely to do them any good? The accusatory tone? The rejection of empathy from friends and family?

    I understand the gender norms which say that men should repress and reject their emotions – and I know that such repression can manifest in psychological illness. These norms must be confronted and challenged; not unquestioningly accepted, as you seem to.

    I note the research you speak of was funded by beyondblue, an organisation I have high respect for.

    Having lost multiple friends to suicide, and having seen the devastation of mental illness first hand, I feel your article is irresponsible and unreflective. Often it is the variable of a strong support network that helps people pull through their blackest periods.

    Do you actually believe this is an example of responsible writing? Am I perhaps awarding your piece a level of seriousness you did not intend?

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