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Loneliness in tech

thatonejakeb profile image Jacob Baker ・2 min read

I'll preface this with a quick bit about me: I've been a remote worker for just over 5 years now, typically I'll try to go to the office once a week. This is certainly something I have had to deal with.

With recent world events looking to increase the number of people working from home, particularly with the added difficulty of lockdowns reducing opportunities for social interaction, this is a topic worth discussing.

I'll list a couple of things I've done over the years to help with loneliness, but I'm really interested in hearing what tips and advice the community has to offer.

Join online communities

I mean actively; not passively lurking. Be it Twitter, Reddit, dev.to, Slack, Discord, or anywhere. Start the conversation or join in. You're here, reading this! Drop something in the comments.

Get some fresh air

I appreciate the irony in this. Usually my advice would be to seek out places you could work outside of a home office occasionally, e.g. co-working space or coffee shop; however, this becomes much more difficult where everything but essential travel is restricted.

Even if you have a garden space, no matter how small, it can help to get out and take in that fresh air. Even if it is just an open window.

Favour video rather than audio only

Seems like a no-brainer but for the longest time meetings and informal chats were always audio only for me.


What advice do you have for dealing with loneliness? What experiences have you had?


I'm more than happy to have a natter on Twitter with anyone, about anything @thatonejakeb.

Discussion (36)

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jakesweb profile image
Jacob Colborn

It's interesting for me since I work in an office, but I work doing technical support for servers and networking. I feel very isolated from programming circles. I try to join with communities but struggle with social anxiety which makes it difficult for me to engage with people at all. But, even with social anxiety, I still really want to make those connections. They are good for your mental health and career.

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Jacob Baker Author

Do you find it easier to socialise online rather than in person? Or does the social anxiety hit regardless?

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Jacob Colborn

For me, it's actually a bit worse online. My particular anxiety centers around are trying to be very aware of what I am saying and how I am saying it. A lot of times online I get to hyper-analyze this while I type and edit. I sit there and read it over and over making sure it sounds perfect. Sometimes I'll decide that the input I have doesn't even matter or fit in and erase the whole thing and just stay isolated. In-person, if I have to get something out I don't have as much leeway with analysis.

I have been trying to get better about this, hence why I posted here haha, but it can be a long road and it is important to try not giving up.

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Jacob Baker Author

Oh that’s interesting! Is it because it is difficult to convey tone of voice through text as well?

Keep it up πŸ˜πŸ™Œ

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jakesweb profile image
Jacob Colborn

That's definitely part of it. I think the bigger thing is, in the back of my mind, I keep thinking this could be someone to connect with and that just puts the pressure on for me.

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Anzelika • Edited

Heya! A wild Anzelika appeared. I just dropped in to say that it's impossible to offend me, so you can perhaps loosen up those rewriting gears :) I know a thing or two about social anxiety so if you want to network or banter with a front end newbie, I'm here!

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nataliedeweerd profile image
𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐚π₯𝐒𝐞 𝐝𝐞 π–πžπžπ«π

Quite poignant at the moment, given how so many people will now be working from home for the first time! It's certainly the first time I'll be working from home for a prolonged period of time.

Husband and I have decided that we'll start walking the dog every lunch time - this will get us out of the house, give us some exercise, and give us some interaction with the outside world.

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Jacob Baker Author

Yes! My dog certainly has loved having me home, she gets an extra mid-morning walk. Having your partner work from home as well I'm sure will help, mine is a veterinary nurse at a referral hospital so won't be joining me unless things are really bad.

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Lisa Armstrong • Edited

Good point about getting outside.
I've worked from home for over 15 years, and make it a point to do my 'sanity' walk every day.
Social isolation doesn't mean you have to stay on the house. A walk in nature is allowed as long as you're not close to people.

I find a fitness app helps motivate me.
Making social interaction a priority is a good idea too.

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Jacob Baker Author

I used to like that running app game that was based around a zombie apocalypse. Think it was "Zombies, run!" or something like that. Perhaps not appropriate at the moment though...

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πŸ¦„N BπŸ›‘ • Edited

Perhaps not appropriate at the moment though...

Or perhaps all the more entertaining.

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Vinicius LagΓͺdo

Me and my squad agreed to have a telepresence room. The concept is to be there actively independent of meetings, sometimes subjects about TV shows or movies appear. And that is helping a lot with loneliness. Today even a part of the team lunches together virtually.

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Jacob Baker Author

That’s a really neat idea! Just passively having a video chat on the go could emulate that group work environment. I like the idea of lunches together. I said to my family we might have to have Skype Sunday lunch as the lockdowns go on!

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skuzzymiglet

Thanks! I usually make myself run/walk/cycle to start the day - a bit of cold to wake up, and the excersise. The storms earlier this year prevented me from going outside, and now the virus will halt my morning bike ride to school for a while.

Luckily, I have quite a few friends and I chat on Riot and Discord. Hopefully I won't get too lonely

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Jacob Baker Author

I’m useless at exercising in the morning, always makes me feel super nauseous!

Drop me a DM anytime if you want to chat πŸ™‚

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Dana Ottaviani

I agree with the online community one. I'm constantly invited to join discord or slack groups in tech or other interests of mine but I'm concerned of feeling the need to keep up with all the conversations happening (maybe this is just me?).

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Jacob Baker Author

It's a tough one! Personally I dip in and out every so often, that goes for Twitter and here on dev.to as well.

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Muhammad

Teach others what you have learned, really helps the lonliness

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Jacob Baker Author

Teaching is also a great way to solidify your own learning!

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Muhammad

Exactly you benefit more... and yet you contribute as well

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πŸ¦„N BπŸ›‘

Favour video rather than audio only

This seems tough for many of the people I work with.

I try to set an example with turning on my video even when I'm not the most photogenic, or have forgotten in which direction to orient the coffee mug.

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Dominic Lapitan

I only started working remotely last December 2019. And I must say it's really hard adjusting my lifestyle and increasing my discipline to work remotely, hahaha especially I came from an office environment for about 1.5 years πŸ˜… thank you for this post! Appreciate it! πŸ‘

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Jacob Baker Author

Discipline is tough. I’ve also found it really easy to burnout because you don’t get those interruptions through the day so I find I end up working a lot more!

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James Becker • Edited

As a remote worker of 2+ years, I agree with most of your points.

Discord has been especially helpful for me to feel more connected and to engage in fascinating conversations I otherwise would never have.

On a very informal level, video chats are ok, but I hate video meetings. I think phone calls and audio teleconferencing are far more productive. I don't understand why anyone would need to be staring at my face during a meeting. I certainly don't care to have to make fake eye contact with a computer screen. I (and I hope, other attendees) am usually more interested in the subject of conversation, be it data reports, codebases, or mockups.

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Abdullah Atta

Couldn't agree more. Humans are social beings and should interact and mingle. That's how we survive. Thank you for opening this up.

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Jacob Baker Author

Totally! Online can't always replace socialising in person but it certainly can help.

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Ben Sinclair

waves in twitter

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Jacob Baker Author

So I totally forgot hashtag in markdown makes it a title...

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yokotobe

Giving you a hug

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AgileTech Vietnam

Thank you so much. When first seeing your title, it's boom in my mind. There are many ways to treat yourself better as well as growing career!

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Jacob Baker Author

Take care of yourself πŸ™Œ

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Mohammad Fazel

Great article but expected to see more details and some useful instructions.

Thank you!

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Jacob Baker Author

It's a discussion post, so I'm after just that! Do you have any advice or tips to offer? Is it something you're struggling with?

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Jordan Engstrom

This is great advice! I especially love the bit about the garden. My bonsai trees definitely help me.