THE GUARDIAN – There’s an ailment linked to increased heart attacks, depression, diabetes, crime and premature death in the US, and it’s impacting people no matter where they live or who they are: loneliness.
US surgeon general Vivek Murthy released an advisory on loneliness and isolation on Tuesday and urged people and public officials to treat the matter with the same urgency as other serious conditions such as obesity or drug abuse as it continues to surge, affecting approximately half of the people living in the US.
“Right now, millions of people are telling us through their stories and statistics that their tank is running on empty when it comes to social connection,” he said.
The study showed that 35% Gen Z respondents spend over two hours on social media daily.
“So bottom line is this has to be a public health priority that we consider on par with tobacco, with substance use disorders, with obesity and other issues that we know profoundly impacted people’s lives.”
Murthy, who has written about his own personal experience with loneliness and feeling isolated for several years, said the pandemic has brought the disruption of social cohesion to the forefront.
But as the advisory points out, the issue had been ticking up since the 1970s for a myriad of reasons, including changes in social norms, built environments and, of course, technology.
The advisory cites polls from the 1970s in which 45% of Americans said they could reliably trust other Americans. That dropped to roughly 30% by 2016. Between 2003 and 2020, the time Americans spent alone increased by 24 hours a month, and time with friends in person decreased by 10 hours a month.
Teenagers and adults reported being online “almost constantly” but across all ages had fewer friends and in-person interactions.
These changes, coupled with the influx of home delivery and other changes that limit personal interactions can leave people feeling disconnected.
“It’s a normal part of the human experience and loneliness, in many ways, is like hunger or thirst,” Murthy said … READ MORE.