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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Loneliness: The ultimate superpower

Bianca Oppedisano
Lonely Man rips one of his shirts open. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff.

“Ground control to Major Tom. Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong. Can you hear me, Major Tom?” 

Yes. He can hear you loud and clear. Major Tom is simply ignoring all incoming transmissions, vibing in the solitary confinement of his tin can, far above the world. The Earth now appears as nothing more than an isolated speck, left at the altar by the creative forces of the Big Bang and ghosted on Tinder by the bright embrace of the sun. Tom peers down at the 8 billion bleeding hearts going through their days worrying incessantly over obtaining the thing that he no longer has access to: love. And yes, he thinks to himself, the planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing he can do—but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

It’s been 1,754 years since the untimely demise of one mister Saint Valentine, who was beheaded by the Roman government for doing the righteous thing in helping happy couples tie the knot. While in the end, he may not have had a head, as our modern society celebrates the anniversary of his death, you may be lucky enough to get some. However, suppose you’re like the majority of people. In that case, the only kind of head you’ll be getting is that of the pounding variety, derived through drowning your sorrows in a concoction of tears and cheap booze while spending a sad night alone craving the warm touch of human intimacy that will never come. Behold, loneliness: God’s greatest gift to the world.   

It may seem absurd, portraying loneliness as anything other than the soul-devouring creature from the black lagoon we all know it to be, but imagine, for a moment, a world in which you were truly happy. A world where you woke up every morning to the person you loved. A world where you had the luxury of braving the uncertain waters of life alongside the one person who understood you better than anyone. A world where you never had to spend another Valentine’s Day alone. 

But even if you somehow obtained such a fantasy, what next? What are you going to do, sit around and be happy for the rest of your life, perfectly content in a healthy, stable relationship where you feel loved and appreciated? Mission accomplished? Loneliness vanquished? Have you ever stopped to think about how your loneliness might feel about being ditched for some new, peppier emotion? Without loneliness, would you even be yourself? Where would you draw your inspiration from if not the constantly nagging fear that you’ll spend the rest of your days by yourself and utterly unloved? As great as happiness is, it’s probably the least productive of emotions.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time writing about existential lighthouses and depressed trolls, it’s that as a creative, happy is the worst thing you can be, next to financially secure. As terrible as it feels, loneliness is a pretty effective catalyst for producing good quality work and accomplishing goals. If you had a significant other, do you really think you would have taught yourself to play the spoons? Probably not. On the other hand, if you didn’t long for the significant other, the thought of teaching yourself to play the spoons to win their affection probably never would have struck you. It’s a delicate balance. 

Look, I realize that presenting loneliness as some sort of superpower is a pretty hot take and that actively seeking loneliness seems like some kind of elaborate self-sabotage. Of course, this is true, as actively seeking loneliness doesn’t make you lonely, it just makes you weird. For loneliness to be an effective tool, you have to not want it. It’s your desperate grasp for the romantic spark that lies just beyond reach that fuels you. It’s the way your heart does a triple somersault when that special someone walks into the room, giving you the sudden urge to move to Alaska, live in a broken-down bus and eat any old potato-like plant you find in the forest, edible or not. 

So, while some are having candlelit dinners surrounded by white doves, cherubs and trash-flavored chocolates, you’ll be spending another Valentine’s Day cooped up in your room, taking advantage of that beautiful loneliness and drinking yourself into a mindless stupor. Who knows what you’ll accomplish? Maybe you’ll send some strongly worded, ill-conceived texts to an ex-lover. Maybe you’ll break the record for the longest projectile vomit—27 feet. Maybe you’ll invent a perpetual motion machine that will solve the world’s energy crisis and make oil obsolete. 

You may even—if you’ve done more than drink—drift out into space and bump into Major Tom. By this point, he’s floated all the way over to that lonely, little red planet where he used extensive knowledge of gardening and his feces to grow and harvest his own potato-like plant that probably isn’t edible. And if the story of Chris McCandless is anything to go off of, old Tommy boy has just guaranteed himself an all-you-can-eat pass to the finest buffet in the halls of loneliness Valhalla. The last place anyone wants to be, and rightfully so. Sulk hard, friends.    

About the Contributors
Joe DiPersio, Humor Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator