Einstein liked “thought experiments.” Myths may be thought of as “thought stories.” Like many in our technological society, I enjoy imagining “thought theories.” None of these have historic, objective “reality”, but they can be informative anyway. Useful just-so tales to make us think in new ways.
In that spirit, I wonder if loneliness is an evolved survival trait. Humans are a very social species. One person alone in the world is vulnerable. Even if successful, such an outlaw is considered a bad, useless, dangerous hermit or wild beast. A fair target for any tribe.
Loneliness, then, may be the inner instinct to find others to bond with. Maybe it helps in both individual and species survival. Making one nervous and depressed when isolated from groups of people could possibly be useful.
Of course they must be the right people. Just anyone in a mob will not do. Loneliness must be dispelled by at least a basic tribal relationship. Trust, shared goals, Mutual support.
In our complicated world, tribes come and go, most of them fleeting. Temporary, and easily changed. As we grow cynical of any relationships, loneliness is one outcome.
Perhaps that is why virtual reality is of so little use when we are truly lonely.