The first question you may ask yourself is; why is not joining a club effective? More people (66%) were able to recognize that self-help books and websites are not effective treatments either. Ironically one of things that makes self-help books ineffective is the same thing that makes joining a club ineffective. The problem has to do with particular individual traits that a chronically lonely person has. Someone who is chronically lonely, is lonely regardless of the situation that they are in. They are lonely when they are by themselves, and they are lonely when surrounded by others. There are ebbs and flows to stronger feelings of loneliness, but if you were to ask someone who is chronically lonely, they will admit that loneliness is always in the background, like a shadow, always there following their every move. Depending upon the situation, sometimes you are aware of it more than other times, but it is always there.
Chronically lonely individuals have a vicious, cyclical pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that keep them trapped in their feelings of loneliness. Perhaps they think that they will always be rejected in social situations, perhaps they are very shy or suffer from social anxiety, or perhaps they have trouble trusting others. Regardless of the specific reason, these types of thoughts/feelings create barriers to establishing friendships. Thus, if you have trouble trusting others, you would be unable to get close to them and deepen a friendship. If you are socially anxious, you probably avoid social situations altogether. So, what happens when you take a chronically lonely individual and you throw them into a social group, like a club or a class? Not much. Like anyone else, they reproduce their personality patterns in the group. If they were shy before, pushing them into a club won't make them less shy, they will still withdraw from others.
When it comes to things like chronic loneliness, self-help books have a hard time actually changing people for the better. This is because these patterns of thinking/feelings/behaving are deeply ingrained in the psyche, and it becomes almost impossible for a person to heal themselves. Very much like if you get injured in a car accident, you cannot heal yourself, you need others to help you. Most people who answered the Lonely Quiz seems to have understood this, but at the same time, thought that just being around others with help relieve the loneliness. Again, if you are injured in a car accident, just because there are others around, doesn't mean that they can help with your injuries. The best person to do that would be a medical professional. You need someone who will be able to 1. focus on your injuries and 2. have some knowledge of how to treat your injuries. Similarly, if you are chronically lonely, you need someone who can serve as that medical professional. It may be a therapist, but it may also be someone who has been through chronic loneliness and understands it.
What I'm trying to understand is why so many people think that simply joining a club will effectively deal with chronic loneliness. One simple explanation is that people didn't read or understand what I meant by chronically lonely. Joining a club, in fact, can be very effective for someone with transient loneliness - who experiences loneliness a lot less frequently and less intensely. People with transient loneliness are better able to overcome their feelings of loneliness and move on. Their feelings of loneliness stem from the situation they are in, rather than any personality characteristics. So perhaps, some people got it wrong because they were thinking about transient loneliness as opposed to chronic loneliness.
But surely, not everyone made that mistake. It seems like chronically lonely people would know that joining a club can be ineffective. However, perhaps some chronically lonely people may think that the entire problem lies outside of them and in the environment. Therefore the reason they are lonely is because they haven't found the right set of people to connect with - if they joined the right group, then their loneliness would go away. They are merely victims of circumstance. This mindset is comforting, you can effectively blame the situation around you for your feelings of loneliness. It relieves the chronically lonely person of any responsibility for having the change, "I'm lonely because everyone else sucks!" Under these circumstances, it is understandable that a chronically lonely person may think that joining (the right) club would be an effective treatment for loneliness.
What about individuals that aren't chronically lonely? Why would they think this would be effective for chronically lonely folks? I think part of the reason has to do with the often nonchalant attitude the average person has about loneliness. Loneliness is often not seen as a big problem, the cause seems pretty simple (you have no one around to make friends with) as does the solution (go join a club, meet some people, and make some friends). It ignores the deep-seated roots of chronic loneliness, often in childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect. Lonely people aren't losers because they can't do something as simple as making some friends. Making friends can be very difficult to do, especially if your past has taught you that anyone you love will hurt you. Just dismissing it by saying, go join a club, is actually a rather insulting, crass thing to say to someone who has been dealing with loneliness for years. If it were that simple, I think they wouldn't be lonely today.
Chronic loneliness takes years to form, and by extension, I also feel it takes years to dismantle. There are no simple solutions for this complex problem.