Last month, Slate.com posted an article by Jessica Olien entitled Dangers of Loneliness: Social Isolation is Deadlier than Obesity. In it, Olien explores the irony of feeling less connected in an increasingly virtually connected world and cites numerous studies on loneliness and its damaging effects:
- The Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago and researchers at The Ohio State University found that “social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease.”
- “A recent study of Facebook users found that the amount of time you spend on the social network is inversely related to how happy you feel throughout the day.”
- “Evolutionary psychologists speculate that loneliness triggers our basic, fight vs. flight survival mechanisms, and we stick to the periphery, away from people we do not know if we can trust.”
Adding to the difficulty of feeling loneliness is the stigma and shame that go along with admitting you are indeed lonely, which inevitably exacerbate the problem. This is very different from they ways in which we deal with obesity, which has become a health issue that is being addressed on a national level. But how do we as individuals and communities deal with the prevention of, or healing from loneliness?
How do you stay connected?