The word independence strikes an empowering note. But that’s not it. Independence doesn’t mean that you’re powerful (although that may be part of it). It doesn’t mean that you’re better than others, and it doesn’t mean that you can get things done. All it means is that you can take care of yourself.

As far as emotional independence is concerned, what do people naturally do and why?

When people feel emotional, they have a natural tendency to depend on others. They share their problems, and as they receive advice and opinions, they learn to navigate the emotions involved. Loneliness is a big culprit for extreme reactions to emotions.

Isn’t that frustrating to think about? Why did evolution wire us to depend on others for emotional navigation, despite so many cases where others seem uninterested or unavailable? Well, the answer to that is simple: Until the very recent past, people had to be there for each other. Right from 200,000 years ago (when they needed each other to make successful kill in the wild) to the late 1990s (when they needed each other because phones and computers weren’t too advanced).

It’s only been in the last 2 decades or so that loneliness has become a realistic option because people no longer need each other like they used to. Phones and computers have made almost anything possible, even friends (think social media). Unfortunately, 100,000+ years of evolution cannot be undone in only 2 decades, and that is why people continue to depend on others for their emotional wounds. 

Now, we need to adapt

The science of going it alone hasn’t progressed very much. That’s because it’s such a recent development. There is a lobby, even today, that is trying to get people to be there for each other like the old days. But, it’s not working. The sad reality is that most people are on their phones and computers even when they’re in a crowd. Many of us, especially the younger generation, would rather chat than call or meet. Okay. Fine. We’ll just have to make our peace with that. But what does mean for our mental health? Our brains still think that we need others. It doesn’t know that we mostly have to go it alone these days. 

The official position, even today, is that everybody needs a friend. But think about this:

A child fights with their parent and then goes into their room. If technology wasn’t around, then the child would eventually have to make up with the parent and be patient while the tension lasted. But what happens today? Well, the child gets on their phone, finds someone who agrees with them and make a new best friend at the expense of their parents. Similarly, if someone wants entertainment or pleasure, they have instant access to it on the internet. This problem of instantly gratifying any desire whether that’s ego validation or entertainment only exists because of technology. It’s creating a generation of people who have endless demands, no patience and no distress tolerance.

This is causing easily strained relationships across the board, whether it’s between parent and child, between friends or between lovers, and this no-compromise attitude is only further worsening the emotional loneliness that plagues the modern world.

There have been many radical shifts in evolution’s history, and this new technology-driven individualism is one of them. We either adapt by relying only on ourselves to handle emotions or we end up with social disappointment so severe that it drives us to extreme outcomes. 

Maybe, I’m being too pessimistic. I honestly don’t think so though. I think I’m just being realistic. But, go ahead, prove me wrong. Tell me what you think in the comments below.