In particular, overstating the problem can make it harder to make sure we are focusing on the people who need help the most. When Britain announced its new ministry, officials insisted that everyone, young or old, was at risk of loneliness. Yet the research tells us something more specific. In places like the United States and Britain, it’s the poor, unemployed, displaced and migrant populations that stand to suffer most from loneliness and isolation. Their lives are unstable, and so are their relationships. When they get lonely, they are the least able to get adequate social or medical support.
I don’t believe we have a loneliness epidemic. But millions of people are suffering from social disconnection. Whether or not they have a minister for loneliness, they deserve more attention and help than we’re offering today.
Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at New York University and the author of “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” doesn’t thing there’s an epidemic of loneliness, but then from the title of his book, he may not be open to exploring otherwise. The NYTimes might want to publish a rebuttal piece and let readers make up their own minds.
Four days after having been published on the New York Times website, this article is still trending. What does that tell you?