Do we live in the age of loneliness?

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If you have to define the age in which we are currently living, what would you say about 21st century? It’s not the age of discovery, not the time of radical changes or revolutions. What is it then? Some people would say that it is the time of radical development and technological innovations, they might be right or not. The thing that can’t stop bothering me is the fact how our interpersonal relationships are changing in equal proportion of that. Can we claim that we are fully satisfied with our life, this is not a utopia some might argue, but how much closer we are to being lonely rather than happy? Marina Keegan started her essay “The opposite of loneliness” like this : “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want from life”. Her words echo in my head every time. Couldn’t she be more right, is that we all want from life and sometimes we struggle to achieve?

First of all, let’s face some facts.

In his book “How did we get into this mess? “ George Monbiot states that our society today is overwhelmed by loneliness. He says that, for instance, that Britain is one of the loneliness capitals in EU where many people suffer from the lack of friendship or a person on whom they can truly rely on. Another statistical analysis indicates that loneliness is as much detrimental as obesity, triggering major health problems such as high blood pressure, weakening the immune system and causing depression. If these are not warning sights, I don’t know what it is. Moreover, there is 14% increase in death causes due to loneliness alone while that from poverty figure is 19%. Something tells me that this might be just the begging of it if we are not bothered to do something about it.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Measuring National Wellbeing programme, in the section relating to support in need in relation with personal matter the three countries on the top are : Slovakia, Lithuania and Spain respectively, while the last three are UK, Denmark and France. However, in the section “Feel close to people in the local area” the first top is held by Cyprus(81%) ,Romania (80%) and Croatia (78%) and the bottom line belongs to Finland (62%) , UK (59%) and Germany (58%) . As you can see there are a lot of discrepencies in the data analysis, but most importantly even a country with a boost economy can’t guarantee the safety and the level of well-being to its citizens.

There many factors which can contribute to this state of not well-being. Among them are the fierce competitiveness which surrounds us, from personal life to our career path. All of the stress, the pressure and the demand for achievements at work can isolate us and make us more self- cautious and precautious in a rather negative way. We always draw comparisons between our colleagues, especially if we are in the team of the high-achievers. I am not saying that to be ambitious is not a good thing, but sometimes we forget to draw the line. On the top of that, the media promotes certain images and standards that need to be achieved in order we can be “successful”. What happens when we don’t adhere to these standards then? Do we fail ourselves as individuals or are we becoming unproductive numbers within the social fabric?

Finally, let’s not ignore the fact that loneliness does not relate to the number of friends we have, but rather to the quality of these relations with them. So, the quality is once again a deciding factor over the quantity. Let’s connect with one another instead of loosing ourselves in the crowd.

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