There are lots of reasons why we feel alone, even in the company of others. I think one of the most prominent reasons has to do with difference. For all our fancy talk and fancier technology, humans are still animals at their core.
Whether your difference is color, creed, religion, or even the very lines of an individual's face--any EXCUSE for others to push you to the outside of the "herd" as fodder for the lions is almost gleefully used and wholly accepted.
I'm a woman. I'm Jewish. I'm handicapped: I have differences galore--and unfortunately, I've had to deal with the socio-political fall out of difference for most of my life. What never ceases to amaze is how eager others seem to be to not only point out difference, but to seize on it--to persecute for it. And what gives any other human on this planet the right to judge me as "different"? On who's authority am I "different" in the first place? There is no law, no precept, no authority--human or otherwise--that condones, supports or otherwise encourages this kind of judgement. The cliche, "Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," speaks to the crux of the problem with self-righteous judgement of others. And that's what it is--self-righteous. Someone appoints themselves judge and jury of another for their difference. As long as that kind of attitude is tolerated in society, we are ALWAYS only a moment away from CHAOS.
Every human on the planet is "different" from one another. We are a diverse species and that's what makes the human race great--our differences. Popular culture has used the Stepford Wives as a continuing example of the dangers of conformity. Arthur Miller's play and later, film adaptation,The Crucible, is another terrific example. Comic books like X-Men show that difference is not a deficiency.But though our popular culture seems to encourage difference, in larger society it is still possible (even in 2010) to feel very afraid in the midst of judgemental crowd.
I love Michael Crichton's works--Jurassic Park is one of my favorites. His chaos theorist, Malcolm, talks about how events are random hence chaos--basically, expect the unexpected. But this constant social barrage of openly encouraging and more quietly discouraging difference is not the kind of random chaos Crichton was referring to through Malcolm. That kind of social dichotomy is caused by a guilt society versus the shame society that developed during the Middle Ages.
In a shame society, a person's honor or integrity is the criteria for judgement for an individual's personal behaviors. If you show no integrity, no honor, you are shamed out of society, or shamed into retribution. In a guilt society, there is no criteria for an individual's personal behaviors. Even the law, created to keep chaos out, inevitably becomes chaos's allie by relying on concepts like circumstancial evidence, hearsay, slander, and wording like "beyond the shadow of a doubt...." With such concepts, crime is almost encouraged--basically, say or do anything you want, as long as you can get away with it. There's only an application of guilt if you're caught in the act--otherwise, there's no shame in committing a crime. In other words, as long as you have evidence you are publically an open-minded individual, whatever you do privately is accepted and acceptable. I guess I'm old-fashioned in that thought I live in a guilt society, my sensibilities tend more strongly to the shame model.
Even those who have greatly wronged me, I have compassion for. Stealing or cheating or causing another pain is wrong--but I understand there are things about that person I cannot judge.
And yet, it is tempting to judge those who have harmed us, those who have pushed us to the outside of the herd to be gobbled up by a lucky lion. And so, you don't have to be alone to feel lonely--because in this society, even if you THINK differently, those who are not strong enough to stand up for themselves or others will ALLOW you to be persecuted by the mob. Even people you thought were your friends. Even people you love. Is it disappointing? Of course. How can it not be?
No matter how isolated I am from others, no matter how lonely amongst millions, I will not bend or break in my resolve--my integrity. Because, in the absence of others with the same, integrity is all I really have.
If you feel lonely, isolated, even amongst others--know that you are not really alone. We all have to deal with our "differences" as individuals--once in awhile, you may find a rare person who accepts you fully for who you are--but don't despair if you have yet to find such a kind soul--like I said, those persons are rare indeed. Accept yourself for who you are and NEVER apologize for maintaining yourself, your integrity. Though the Tao teaches us to bend as not to break, what that means in this instance is to just accept the nature of humanity; don't break over the difficulties others who seek out your differences put you through. It can be heartbreaking, I know. My heart has been ground to dust and yet, it still manages to somehow break when this sort of thing happens. I suppose that's the miracle of my humanity. Did I just find a silver lining for loneliness? Maybe. You tell me.
Be strong in yourself--always remember who you are....