First get a handle on safety, hunger and health. Then deal with loneliness.
Because if you can solve loneliness after knocking out the first three, what more do you really need? “Love” you may say. “Meaning” you may say. “Purpose” you may say.
I say those are just manifestations of anti-loneliness. Take love for instance. Take a single moment. If you really, truly feel loved in that moment, can you feel lonely? I say “no.”
Given that robust example, we move forward to the next, obvious step in this logic: the best thing you can do for another person after assisting with safety, hunger and health is assisting with loneliness.
Great news: loneliness assistance is the easiest of the four to deliver; you can deliver it every single day without spending a single cent.
So forget about charity for the time being and think instead about the minutes (or hours) in your day when you have social credibility.
so·cial cred·i·bil·i·ty/ˈsōSHəl kredəˈbilədē/ the power to include another person without risking one’s reputation
Social credibility usually ebbs and flows. Maybe you have it on the football field but not in the science classroom. Maybe you have it with your family but not with your in-laws.
In The Way, Way Back, Owen (Sam Rockwell) definitely had social credibility at Water Wizz. The thing about social credibility is that you don’t have to use it to help others because having it means that you are probably “cool,” and thus you don’t need to include anyone to achieve status – the upside appears limited. Furthermore, it’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have full social credibility, that including someone could hurt your reputation, so most social credibility goes unused in the fight against loneliness.
Which is tragic. Because social credibility is one of the most powerful anti-loneliness forces.
Thankfully, Owen had no problem employing it. The result was nothing short of life-saving for Duncan (Liam James). That may be literally true – nobody would have been surprised if Duncan committed suicide. It’s most certainly figuratively true as Owen’s social credibility opened up a world of love and purpose for Duncan.
The important thing to remember is that while Owen may be particularly charming, confident, thoughtful and hilarious, he doesn’t possess some unobtainable genetic gift – almost everyone has social credibility at some point during a day.