In really interesting news, the United Kingdom has appointed a Minister for loneliness. Yes; you read that right. Never before have human beings been so connected, and yet, never before have we faced loneliness of this magnitude.
Reuters reports that the new role exists to address the rife problem of social isolation, which has been linked with dementia, early mortality and high blood pressure.
Loneliness has also been associated with higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more.
Loneliness Knows You By Name
This isn’t a problem that is peculiar to the UK. All over the world, as more people embrace smartphones and social networking, the rate of loneliness grows.
This “fact” tweet says that “due to jobs, kids, the Internet, hobbies and home responsibilities, the average married couple spends just 4 minutes a day alone together”. I cannot verify the accuracy of that, but it can’t be too far from the truth. Even marriage may not necessarily solve the loneliness problem any more.
Is Digital Media To Blame?
No; I do not necessarily think that the spread of mobile and digital technologies is directly responsible for the increase in loneliness. Not in the least bit. So how do we explain the fact that never before has human civilization so connected, thanks to mobile phones and social media, yet social isolation is at its highest ever?
I believe that people keep getting busier and busier to meet up with expectations at work and to foot the bills, and then turn to mobile phones and social media as the primary means of keeping in touch. This is in contrast to time spent together in traditional physical meetups as the primary way we have always interacted with those closest to us.
But it isn’t working. Facebook tags, Instagram likes, and Twitter bants have proven useless at fixing the need for human company. Even video calls do not fix the problem. Human beings need to literally be in touch. But how do we pull that off?
Dolls…sorry…Robots To The Rescue?
Perhaps it will happen when dolls….sorry…I meant robots take over most human tasks and then we shall have more time to spend with family and friends? Just perhaps. But then, dolls might just solve the problem in a very different way.
But until then, the majority of humans are caught in the rat race to acquire as much as possible and maintain it. For now, that means, longer work hours, more work days, and less time with family and friends. Expect to see more countries take initiatives to address the problem of loneliness, for loneliness remains a sad reality of modern civilization.