Loneliness in London sounds like a heinous oxymoron. The centre of almighty Britain, home to over nine million people, has been hailed by countless critics as a socialite's playpen, a place where anything is possible, and the streets are paved with gold. The luckiest of Londoners can treat themselves to cuisine as far as exotic obscurity can stretch, entertaining their taste buds with dishes from Indonesia, their eyes with jaw droppingly inventive theatre, and their ears with every musical genre under the sun. To anyone who has explored our magnificent metropolis, it is undeniable that London has it all. So why then, as I sit sandwiched between my fellow droopy-faced commuters, do I spy an advertisement stating that London has the highest level of single people in the entire country?
The tagline found on the datingrepublic.com says, 'the rise of Facebook means we now have an average of around 200 'friends', which makes it even harder to focus on the relationships that matter, so finding a new one is just too tricky.' The overbearing influence of the internet and our ever expanding reliance upon it to communicate is breeding a monster that spurns traditional romance. Internet dating is becoming more and more ubiquitously relied upon in digitalised society, a self perpetuating paradigm shift that pulls us together whilst pushing us apart.
London is home to a multitude of cultures which are housed side by side, and thus the reasoning behind city solidarity should not be generalised. Yet there are several overlying, reoccurring ideas attached to the issue that could be defined as multi relational.
The first is the pace of life that London facilitates. Walking through the labyrinthine tunnels towards the northern line south bound exit on a Tuesday morning at half past eight, whilst wearing white canvas shoes, is a clear indicator of this. We stamp and scramble over one another, whilst pretending that there is nobody there.
There is gusto behind an argument which cites that George Orwell's essay, The Lion and the Unicorn unveils the true characteristics of Britons who peek around one another politely with lips pursed. He states that 'the gentleness of the English civilization is perhaps its most marked characteristic,' alongside saying, 'here one comes upon an all-important English trait: the respect for constitutionalism.' To the man who permanently imprinted his ideas on British cultural memory, Orwell correctly suggests a few reasons why we as British women and men often struggle to coalesce.
Rather than turning to the attractive girl sitting next to you on the tube, you sit in contemplative silence and enjoy the moments of vapid inactivity that a busy schedule lacks. We are so busy hurrying to work, to the theatre, to that elitist restaurant that nobody can get a table at, or to the bar for drinks with clients, that we don't have time to do anything other than clamber up the ladder of success with our eyes squinted against the wind. As a cultural and financial hub of wealth and opportunity, London shines and attracts a sundry mass of graduates who are all hunting wide eyed and eager for their lucky break. Due to the down turn in job prospects, with unemployment rocketing, the workplace for fresh graduates, rather than being a nest of security, has become a pin cushion which engulfs one's confidence and quashes one's dreams. Finding your dream job suddenly seems impossible, so instead you do admin or waitressing, and file/wipe away your ambition. Such a heavy helping of disillusionment disintegrates self confidence, extinguishing the confident spark in a person's constitution that would otherwise enhance their appeal.
London offers Londoners the world, the crème de la crème of lifestyle modes, a potential that can facilitate stress, exhaustion and loneliness. Like Tantalus ravenous in hell for eternity, when juicy treats are on display, we are forever reaching above our heads. We see a pair of shoes in a shop window, and although they are a perfect fit with a good sole and versatile in style, the shoe laces are a touch too thick, so we put them back on the shelf, because we are sure we can find a more perfect pair somewhere else. We trudge around the streets with steadily threadbare shoes and our soles finally harden as the hunt perpetuates.