HEALTH BLOG

Loneliness Epidemic 31 May 2019

by Eva Guo

This May 2019 Forbes article discusses the devastating numbers of loneliness - how a recent survey showed that nearly half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone or left out; how that loneliness isn't just a U.S. phenomenon, that a third of Britons said that they often or very often feel lonely; how half of Britons over 65 consider the TV or a pet their main companion; and how in Japan, more than half a million under 40 haven't left their homes or interacted with anyone for at least half a year. What?!

 

It's happening in Australia and many other places in the world too. Johann Hari in his new book, Lost Connections, also wrote about this epidemic. A few years ago, Sebastian Junger in his book, Tribe, wondered if soldiers wanted to go back to war zones not because they were suffering from PTSD or too damaged, but it was because society is sick and sickness-inducing and something about the connections made in war zones drew them back.

 

I absolutely am one of those severely lonely people, who often have no one to talk to, and I absolutely agree that loneliness can kill. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Marin County where I'm a short drive from some of the most spectacularly breath-taking natural wonders of the world, and where I'm surrounded by so many people that traffic is often atrocious. Yet, I have found it difficult to connect with people in the ways that make one not lonely. When I do go out to Mt. Tamalpais or Tennessee Valley to be with the redwoods and the butterflies, though, I often feel better. But it definitely would be nice if I had a hiking companion or companions more often. If you're lonely, come to one of our movement classes or come hiking with me or one of our team.

I think it's going to take a seismic shift in our current state of materialism and consumerism and a massive collective effort to check this epidemic.