I've been lonely before.

It's a scary thing, being lonely. It's funny, sometimes, knowing that people on TikTok are called 'thirsty'. It's an appropriate metaphor. Most people haven't experienced true thirst. They have no idea what it means. They use the term, but they've never needed water so bad it was killing them. Not in America, at least.

Thank goodness.

When people who want attention are called thirsty, it is the same vague and weak desire that motivates people to drink. They don't know true thirst, where they'd drink anything, even water they know is unsafe, so fast they spill it all over themselves, wasting the very thing they so desperately need.

No, everybody needs attention. Those people online aren't thirsty, they just are moved more by that need than most. It isn't the extreme lack and desperation you'd see in real loneliness. True loneliness has a hopeless feeling. Those people don't have TikTok accounts, or don't know how to use it well enough to get an audience. Because loneliness does that too. It makes everything less calibrated and comfortable, making the problem worse in a way that every lonely person has noticed.

It's important to remember all of this, when we feel lonely, or when we see someone else who's lonely. But it's also important to remember when we think of how lonely many other people are, or how little we know about why. This isn't a small problem, and I'm going to better to help people who are precisely where I've been. It's not a great place, and maybe a friend could help them out of it.