“What do we call this present age,” asked George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian (The age of loneliness is killing us, October 14, 2014). Looking at increasing trends toward social isolation, he suggests we are now entering the Age of Loneliness.
This is hugely destructive (for example, loneliness has the same impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day) because, Monbiot argues, “we were social creatures from the start, mammalian bees, who depended entirely on each other. The hominins of east Africa could not have survived one night alone. We are shaped, to a greater extent than almost any other species, by contact with others. The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before.”
Yes, factories have closed, people travel by car instead of buses, use YouTube rather than the cinema. But these shifts alone fail to explain the speed of our social collapse. These structural changes have been accompanied by a life-denying ideology, which enforces and celebrates our social isolation. The war of every man against every man – competition and individualism, in other words – is the religion of our time….
See The Great Affluence Fallacy for some thoughts on how to counter this trend.