How a Twitter account captures this generation’s so-called loneliness epidemic

How a Twitter account captures this generation’s so-called loneliness epidemic

Like @kasamangkumain, we all just want somebody to sit down and have a meal with

Mitski’s most popular track on Spotify is Nobody, a song that opens after six counts with a line so cutting, you’ll feel it to your core: “My god, I’m so lonely.” 

A little over a week ago, I came across a tweet from an account called @kasamangkumain. No caption, just a screenshot of the Genius video where Mitski explains the meaning behind Nobody, except after that first line, the user has added, “Sana may / Kasama / Akong kumain.” The tweet has garnered over 600 retweets and 3,000 likes — it appears to be the first post to get this much attention from an account that has existed since August. 

It’s kind of a no-brainer why people can relate to the song, or the account affectionately making light of it. A May 2018 survey held by Cigna, a healthcare company, found that out of 20,000 American respondents aged 18 and over, 46 percent sometimes or always feel alone, with 43 percent feeling like they don’t have meaningful personal relationships. The survey also found that members of Generation Z are “the loneliest generation” — a result echoed by another survey by market research company YouGov, which found that 30 percent of millennials feel lonely, compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers and 15 percent of Baby Boomers.

It’s easy to blame social media, which feels like we’re interacting with the people in our lives but doesn’t really work as a substitute for physical companionship. It’s even easier to blame late-stage capitalism, which puts an emphasis on productivity and the commodification of your time. Jobs have become extra demanding. Commuting takes so much longer than it used to. The “end” in weekend now seems more like a decoration than anything. 

All of this also points to an increase in eating as a solitary activity: more of us are living alone, daily routines have become more complicated than the fabled nine-to-five, and it’s just more — you guessed it — productive. 

There’s always been this subtle stigma against eating solo, making it out to be sad and rather undignified. Meals are rituals after all; communal experiences, quality time. Now that people eat alone more frequently, we can acknowledge that there can be a quiet comfort in it, a sense of security — but sometimes you can’t help but want someone to share it with, just to fill the silence, just because it’s nice. 

The best Twitter accounts tend to have one bit and stick to it with a careful balance of dedication, consistency, and a lot of personality. Think @ProBirdRights, @BulbaGanda, @plsfindmeagf: you need a persona that’s interesting but easy to relate to (or far-fetched and ridiculous but also somehow empathically human), an approach that’s tongue-in-cheek and irreverent but also honest. It’s essentially a single joke over and over, but it never feels redundant and it’s applicable to whatever meme is popular at the moment. Self-sustainable, the gift that keeps on giving. That’s exactly what @kasamangkumain is.

Its whole deal is that it’s a “talaarawan ng isang Pilipinong nangangarap na may makasamang kumain.” It functions as a literal food log; the user takes pictures of their meal and always captions it, “Sana may kasama akong kumain.” The language is very familiar and informal, they’re always writing minute and not-so-trivial details about their day, and because of this, they actually feel like a friend. 

They also classify things and people they deem good and worthy as “kasamang kumain” — one of them being Vico Sotto when he spoke out on the Regent 23, which means they’re not above using their account to inform and express their opinions on things that matter. Their reference pool extends from Mitski to Amelie, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Japanese Breakfast, Frank Ocean, Carly Rae Jepsen, MGMT, and the hidden line in The Strokes’ Razorblade, which they also consider kasamang kumain. They attended the premiere of Dead Kids, the country’s first Netflix Original. (I was also there, and now I’m wondering if we had somehow crossed paths. We both had a lemon bar.)  

Just as Mimiyuuuh is making both high fashion and jologs culture accessible to audiences that aren’t necessarily the target demographic of each, @kasamangkumain’s appeal is that it’s got whatever it is the cool kids classify as good taste, but it’s earnest and no-pretense without taking itself too seriously — unafraid to also be “uncool” and vulnerable, especially in their open longing to just have someone to share a table with. 

 

Young people feel more alone than ever before — and, strangely enough, it’s exactly the thing that’s bringing us together.

 

Its humor is in its lack of irony; you laugh because you’ve been there yourself, and it really be like that sometimes, shrug emoticon and all.

I’m no stranger to eating alone myself. I walk up to restaurants and say, “Table for one, please,” with practiced ease. I don’t go to an office every day, but I often have to be somewhere at varying times, which sometimes means breakfast before my parents have woken up, or having lunch at 3 p.m., or dinner at a 24-hour restaurant and trying to find another way home now that the MRT has stopped operating for the night. It definitely means snack breaks in lieu of actual meals when I’m trying to get a lot of writing done.

Eating alone is certainly not a new phenomenon — it’s just that the connections we’ve made online have given us an outlet, @kasamangkumain being one of them. Sometimes they’re written off as screaming into the void, but they’ve helped us become aware that these cases of loneliness are far from isolated. We rethink our own feelings about when solace gets to be too much, we view it from both the inside looking out, and the outside looking in.

We come to realize that we’re all lonely — which, strangely enough, therefore means that we’re not alone.

Tags:
#culture #technology

Share this:

FacebookTwitterEmailGoogle+