Columns

OFFLINE: PHL is home to some of the loneliest people in the planet

This little bit of news is something that the Marcos regime had better take note of, if it knows what’s good for it.

A recent survey conducted by Meta and Gallup found that the Philippines has one of the highest levels of self-reported loneliness among all of the countries of the world.

The country may not be at the very bottom of the list, but it’s close. Too close for comfort, in fact.

Said The Global State of Social Connections, a lot more than half of Filipinos say they are feeling lonely. How much more? How about 57 percent?

That’s a lot of our kababayans, huh? It is more than double the global average of 24 percent.

You all know the saying that a man is judged by the company he keeps? Well a country can also be judged the same way. In the case of the state of sadness, our Philippines is down there with the likes of Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, and Afghanistan. All ranked 50 percent and over.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m suddenly feeling very sad now. Depressed almost.

The study covered a total of 142 countries, by the way. And it seems that sadness or loneliness – is there a difference between the two? – is a worldwide phenomenon. Maybe it’s part of the human condition, or maybe it’s the modern world which is moving too fast for most of us.

I suspect too much technology may also play a part, as we have all become too dependent on our gadgets.

Imagine spending a week or even just a weekend at a desert island. No cellphones, no internet, no Facebook or X. It would drive a lot of “normal” people like you and me nuts, no?

I remember one time when I went out of town and forgot to bring my charger. It was panicville for me, folks. It was only when I was at the airport waiting for my flight home that charging stations were available. For free even.

I felt like some kind of addict in need of a fix. It was when my phone was partially charged enough that I was able to phone home, just like ET said.

In a recent TV interview, a psychologist and relational life coach said it was actually a good thing that we Pinoys acknowledge our sadness. Or loneliness. Whatever.

I have no idea what a relational life coach does except to become characters in romantic comedies (I detest the word rom-com, ok?) Didn’t Will Smith play one in a movie not too long ago? This was before he decided to show the world that he could blindside a guy much smaller than him and slapping him in the face, in full view of millions of viewers.

He’s lost much of his popularity, hasn’t he?

And all because he was supposedly defending the honor of his wife, who recently said they were, in fact, in an open marriage. Meaning she could have sex with anyone she chose, including her son’s best friend if rumors are to be believed. Not-so-good old Will could do the same thing.

Boy did I just digress, si?

Anyway, this psychologist says it’s a good thing to acknowledge and validate one’s feelings. Good for mental health and all that. Good even for Will Smith.

Incidentally, my current life partner is a licensed psychologist, so maybe she can explain to me why so many people are sad and lonely.

Now the other psychologist I refer to – the one who’s not my life partner and whom I don’t know from Eve if I ever ran into her – likewise said that a large part of the loneliness we feel is “the lack of communication with other people.”

So there. That’s why I was going crazy when I had my phone with me when I was alone in a far off city (on business) but couldn’t use it because it was zero batt.

In order to combat loneliness, says Ms. Psychologist, people should talk to others who are positive and open minded.

What about pets, I want to ask her. Can a guy just talk to his dog or cat instead? My answer is a probable yes, because pets can often be better company than hoomans.

But I shall refrain from taking part in the Dogs Are Better Than Cats debate, for the simple reason that the answer has always been dogs. As proof, I ask cat people: When was the last time your cat ever wagged its tail when you get home?

Madame Psychologist ended by stating the obvious. Kindness should always start with us, she said.

So what does the Marcos regime have to do with all this? For me and many of my friends, everything.

I remain permanently sad because I do not for one second believe that Bongbong Marcos won last year’s presidential elections fairly. I have serious doubts that he had 15 million votes more than Leni Robredo.

I can barely accept that the son of the vile dictator who took the country to the brink of ruin is now running the show. I see that he just likes to give speeches on a daily basis, even at the most inconsequential of events. In the meantime, the majority of the people are sad. And lonely.

Pardon my fantasy, but under a President Robredo the Philippines would soon hit developed world status by the time her term ended.

Instead, we have another Marcos regime which is committing the same mistakes as the first one.

And as the years pass, I honestly feel that the percentage of Filipinos who are permanently sad can only grow. Moreso if the supposed vice president-cum-education secretary succeeds Junior.

If I’m still around when that time comes, kindly look for me at the National Mental Hospital. I’ll be the one wearing a straightjacket inside a padded cell.

I hope that the straightjacket is a Versace or Versace. Even an Armani would be fine.