Blame the "Loneliness Epidemic" for the Well-being Crisis - The Hill
At a time when people are more connected than ever thanks to technology and social media, rates of social isolation are rising at alarming rates. According to John T. Cacciopo, the late University of Chicago psychologist and loneliness researcher, about 20 percent of people consider loneliness a “major source of unhappiness in their lives” — and one third of Americans 45 and older say they are lonely.
In response to figures like these, the United Kingdom recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address the problem of disconnection — and last year, former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, declared that the United States is facing a “loneliness epidemic,” which will have dire health consequences.
Though the problem of loneliness is getting more attention, what often gets left out of the discussion is why feeling alone can be so crippling. The problem is not simply a social one — it’s an existential one, too. There is a direct connection between how alone people feel and how meaningful they judge their lives to be. In surveys, we list our close relationships as our most important sources of meaning. And research shows that people who are lonely and isolated feel like their lives are less meaningful.
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