Loneliness firmly on the political agenda

Since the start of the year Britain has had a ministry for loneliness. Now it has presented its first measures: doctors will be able to prescribe social activities for patients and postal workers are to keep an eye out for people who may be affected. Is one the loneliest number? And if so, why?

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Aftonbladet (SE) /

Young people govern in the land of singles

Politicians must do more to combat the problem of loneliness, Aftonbladet urges:

“Swedish politics is dominated by young people. ... In the newly elected parliament only six of the 349 members are over 65. Britain now has a minister for loneliness. You can get a prescription for social activities there. Here in Sweden the Liberals are warming to such concepts. There's a lot you can hold against them, nevertheless their MP Barbro Westerholm (85) is doing good work in insisting that municipalities should offer programmes for all age groups. We Swedes are the loneliest people in the world. Forty-one percent of our households are one-person households. As soon as we have a government it must understand that loneliness must not be overlooked. On the contrary, it must be treated as one of our biggest social problems.”

The Guardian (GB) /

See solitude as a blessing

Loneliness should not be viewed as a sickness that needs curing, sociologist Frank Furedi writes in The Guardian:

“[Philosopher Hannah] Arendt's attempt to convert loneliness through an inner dialogue into solitude offers one way of coming to terms with our estrangement from ourselves. Others, such as the writer Maya Angelou, found refuge in music. ... Still others, such as the existentialist feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir, embraced loneliness and sought to harness its creative force. What they all understood was that we can exist with loneliness through finding value in our solitude. Meaning, rather than a cure, helps us deal with the problems of existence.”

thejournal.ie (IE) /

No substitute for personal contact

Social media cannot solve the problem of loneliness, physician Keith Swanick writes in TheJournal.ie:

“The importance of personal contact and human interaction with others cannot be superseded by technology alone. We are awash with communication options – Facebook, FaceTime, Skype and Snapchat, to mention just a few – but, despite all these communication modes, people are lonelier than ever. We know from psychologists that many young people, who have incredible connectivity online, can experience incredible loneliness, in part because of the absence of meaningful personal and human contact.”

Fokus (UA) /

People lack emotional ties

Fokus's editor-in-chief Yevhen Hordechik reflects on why modern people are sealing themselves off from the outside world and its diversity:

“The world is turning out to be torn up, literally. Torn into pieces that don't even fit together for people who are close to each other. The industrial revolution, which made household technology available to practically everyone, allowed people to live for themselves, without everyday problems. The advertising revolution currently under way [personalised advertising] makes it possible for individuals to see their own personal meaning in things and no longer seek an emotional bond with their surroundings. Loneliness will become one of the key problems of the near future, together with climate change, ageing populations and overpopulation.”