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How London Can Make You Feel: Lonely

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

Cover photo by: Tom Eversley (check his site and his ISO Republic for more)

London is an amazing and breath-taking city, known the world over and immortalised in film, folklore and literature for centuries, celebrated for its diversity and famed for its dynamism.

Indeed, there’s a quote from Samuel Johnson:

"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

I’m sure this is not the sum total of his musings, but his is a phrase often repeated, emblazoned across posters and merchandise galore, as a testament to the notion that London’s magnetism pulls you in and doesn’t let you go.

But for all its intrigue, its interminable stimuli, and its constant reimagining of itself, one point I think that gets lost in all this is the admission in the quote that London can become a place which does create a will to leave, and that those who do may very well be tired of life-that is, London Life.

London’s magnetism draws you in like a Star Trek tracking-beam, sticks you on a rollercoaster or conveyor belt, feeding you into the machine parts, and can make it feel like you’ve been chewed up and spat out by its demands and undercurrents. London can be attritional, and with phrases like ‘the daily grind’ or ‘going back to the coalface’ still being part of our phraseology, it can certainly point to something perhaps being ‘a little off’ in the work-life balance, and after fulfilling the necessities London asks of you, you realise that a large chunk of your rewards for doing so need to go back towards the necessities London has of you… but what about you?

You can feel, at times, ‘like butter spread over too much bread’ in the words of Bilbo Baggins, physically and emotionally, and then finding the time, space and energy to do things can be quite the challenge-what to do, where to go, who am I going to have to deal with whilst I’m there, etc. It can sometimes be easier to just cocoon one’s self and hibernate instead of trying to navigate the intricacies of a city of ~8 million people, which can make you feel isolated. With the kaleidoscopic array of options, it can be daunting and at times, overwhelming.

London can be cold, with minimal conversation in public and most communication between strangers (who aren’t tourists looking for directions) tend to be small gestures accompanied by a deafening silence, perhaps interrupted by the almost-embarrassed ‘sorry’ or the surprised ‘thank you’ when something happens that wasn’t expected.

It’s these that are the glimpses of humanity that are still permitted: giving up your seat on public transport, helping someone with a pram up the stairs, opening or holding doors for people, a wave of acknowledgement when getting off a bus or crossing a road, a smile and a mouth-mimed ‘thanks’. Any more conversations with strangers rarely happen unless Children are involved to break the monotony of our metropolitan robotics.

This leaves us with a vibe that life in London is “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." The problem is that this quote from Hobbes' work 'Leviathan' is talking about the life of mankind in a state of War, which is quite a worrying parallel to draw, worse-so if it seems to ring true.

It’s because of this that we try to throw on our armour as often as possible to survive this rough and tumble, yet try to find those elements of humanity we have reflected in others-the issue sometimes we can’t see who is similarly human under all that armour, and thus meaningful connection with people just being people is hard to come by. Pretense, convention, angst, worry, uncertainty-we all have to work with/around those elements far too often.

Hence, we at crowdFixr are creating events and experiences where both we the team and our wonderful people who we’ve crowdFixd know what it feels like and want to rebalance it all, creating a safe space where we can all leave our armour at the door and connect not just with whatever the event is, but with the fellow diverse humans like who are there too. :)

Come and check out what we've got going on by clicking the link here!