“Thirty-five percent of Americans over forty-five are chronically lonely.
Only eight percent of Americans report having important conversations with their neighbors in a given year.
In 1950, less than 10 percent of households were single-person households; now nearly 30 percent are. The majority of children born to women under thirty are born into single parent households. These are symptoms of general detachment.
The fastest growing political group is unaffiliated. The fastest growing religious group is unaffiliated.
Researchers in Britain asked pastors to describe the most common issue they have to address with their parishioners. Seventy-six percent said loneliness and mental health.
Former surgeon general Vivek Murthy wrote in the Harvard Business Review, ‘During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.’
The psychological, social, and moral toll caused by this detachment is horrific.
Since 1999, the U.S. suicide rate has risen by 30 percent. The plague hit the young hard. Between 2006 and 2016, suicide rates for those between age ten and seventeen rose by 70 percent. Roughly forty-five thousand Americans kill themselves every year, and suicide is largely a proxy for loneliness. Opioids kill an additional seventy-two thousand Americans every year. And opioid addiction is just slow-motion suicide.
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the life span of the average American had declined for the third consecutive year. This is an absolutely stunning trend. In affluent, cohesive societies, life spans get gradually longer as a matter of course. The last time the American life span contracted for this length of time was 1915 to 1918, when the country was enduring a world war and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans.
The reason American lives are shorter today is the increase in the so-called deaths of despair – suicide, drug overdose, liver problems, and so on. And those, in turn, are caused by the social isolation that is all around us.
Excerpts from David Brooks new book, The Second Mountain. The Quest for a Moral Life. The Washington Post: “One of the most prominent public intellectuals of our time explores what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world.”
Wikipedia: David Brooks (born August 11, 1961) is a Canadian-born American conservative political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times. He has worked as a film critic for The Washington Times, a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek, and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR and the PBS NewsHour.