The cultural crisis of loneliness is more acute than ever, partly due to factors like technology, and COVID-related protocols. And one researcher has identified another factor that should not be overlooked: isolation by choice.
Time spent talking to other people, Dr. Jeffrey A. Hall has argued, has declined steadily for nearly 30 years. What’s behind this trend?
“Self-care regimes focus on cultivation of a mindful, inwardly focused life,” he wrote. “There are increasing efforts to cut out other people in the name of removing toxicity. And all these tendencies are pushed forward by frictionless technologies that remove social obligations to leave home, talk to others and engage in our community.”
In response, Hall suggests that we develop a “social regimen that trains our atrophied muscles, even if there is some short-term discomfort, and even if it means encountering people with disagreeable or uninteresting opinions.” It doesn’t sound complicated, but it won’t be easy in a culture that rewards the opposite. There is simply no substitute for real relationships, with real people.
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