Tolstoy, Smith, and the Perils of Loneliness

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Richard Gunderman

“There is reason to suppose that, even though we enjoy greater connectivity than any human beings who have ever lived, we inhabit an age of loneliness. In his 2000 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam details the growing disconnection of Americans from family, neighbors, and the structures of democratic life. In his 2020 book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection, United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy catalogs the health costs of an epidemic of loneliness, including increased risks of heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and premature death. For many, the widespread practices of quarantine, isolation, and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic have only magnified these problems. Further compounding the physical, mental, and emotional tolls of isolation is the fact that many lonely people feel ashamed, fearing they may be unlovable.” (04/29/22)