Loneliness is an affliction of epidemic proportions, a visual essay by Alvin Chang

28 September 2023

Twenty-four hours in an invisible epidemic is an especially poignant edition of visual essay magazine, The Pudding, produced by New York City based journalist Alvin Chang.

The epidemic in question is not Covid-19, though the lockdowns triggered by the pandemic have aggravated another malady: loneliness.

The pandemic exacerbated social isolation, and we’re still not back to pre-pandemic levels. Being alone isn’t necessarily the same as being lonely. But according to a meta-analysis of studies, more people have reported feeling lonely every year since 1976. In short, there really is a loneliness epidemic.

This is case study, Chang looks at the profiles of seventy-two fictitious persons, one of whom is probably similar to you. But look at the profiles of the people who differ from you. Some people are truly living in isolation, and their only interactions — for want of a better word — with others in the course of a day may only be a visit to the supermarket.

I know a number of these people will be introverts, and possibly not so bothered by social isolation, but think of those who are not. This cannot be easy on them.

For another perspective see The Loneliness Project, and also Why You Are Lonely and How to Make Friends, which offers some solutions, by Kurzgesagt.


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