Loneliness is reaching epidemic levels in the US and has considerable impact on our health. Professor Marissa King reflects on the epidemic of loneliness from a network perspective.
Research referenced & other notes:
[~0:12] Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review: Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Baker, Harris, & Stephenson & Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review: Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Layton
Again, there is variability depending on how you look at the mortality risk of various traits. While the impact may not be identical the scale of impact falls in the same general range.
(Transcript may be lightly edited for clarity and ease of reading.)
We’re in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. It’s been estimated that close to 40% of adults feel lonely. And, the consequences of this are significant.
Loneliness has an effect on our health outcomes that is equivalent to obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Why are we feeling more lonely? There are a lot of reasons underlying this. People are moving about more often. Family units are less stable. People change jobs more frequently. We’re engaging more and more with technology, which is arguably creating weaker face-to-face social connections.
On average Americans spend less than 40 minutes a day socializing and this has been decreasing consistently over time.
While technology allows us to expand the number of people we keep in touch with, and make our networks bigger, the downside of this – arguably – is that the quality of our social relationships are suffering.
We are having less intimate, less meaningful, connections with one another. And really, it’s the quality of social relationships you have, not the quantity, that make you feel lonely.
In order to combat loneliness, we don’t need to know more people. Expanding the size of your network isn’t going to help. What you need to do in order to combat loneliness, is to develop more meaningful, authentic relationships.