Being Alone vs. Loneliness

Just came across an article in the Wall Street Journal titled When Being Alone Turns Into Loneliness, There Are Ways to Fight Back.  I think the title oversells the article a bit.  The ways to fight back it offers are modest and nothing new. However, I’m pleased to see the issue of loneliness addressed in so prominent a place as the Wall Street Journal.

The stats about the health risks of loneliness sound ominous. Here’s the quote –

“Researchers at Brigham Young University studying the correlation between social relationships and mortality did a 2010 meta-analysis of 148 studies encompassing more than 300,000 participants. They found loneliness was as strong a predictor of early death as was alcoholism or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it was a stronger predictor than obesity or a sedentary lifestyle.”

Seems a bit like piling on, as if the lonely don’t feel bad enough already.  Now researchers say their misery is worse than smoking! Thanks a lot science – go discover some endangered otter or something and leave them lonely folks be! I suppose in the long run such bad news is helpful in illustrating the seriousness of loneliness. Though I’d like to have more info before accepting that it’s a greater health hazard than 15 cigarettes a day.

It doesn’t surprise me that loneliness is on the rise. More folks living alone, more folks living far from other family members, etc.  I suspect there’s more nuance to the differences in loneliness between men and women than the article had space to explore.  There was a non-boring book about loneliness published in the last few years, Lonely: A Memoir. I found it appealing because it was personal, rather than clinical. It was a bit heavy handed in a “society must DO something about this crisis” way, but interesting nonetheless. Worth a borrow if your library has it.

Anyway, given the topic of my last two story posts, I thought folks would find the WSJ article interesting.

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