The Plague of Loneliness

Move over, bird flu, it turns out that the real problem in America is the loneliness epidemic.

Today’s WaPo column by Sebastian Mallaby discusses how as the average American has expanded his network through email, blogging, and so forth, the network has far less depth than in previous years. The lack of deep friendships and increasing isolation causes health problems ranging from depression to stress as people don’t have confidants to help them through tough times.

Mallaby’s proposed solution to this problem? You guessed it, carpooling. Huh? What? You didn’t automatically think of carpooling? That, my friend, is why Mallaby is making the big bucks as a columnist whilst you isolate yourself in the blogosphere!

All joking aside, I’m not sure I agree with Mallaby’s conclusion. Carpooling seems like it would foster the same type of casual acquaintance type friendships that people already have. I’m also not sure that it’s the government’s job (or anyone’s job, for that matter) to create programs to foster deep friendships.

How about you? How many real deep friendships do you have? The article defines that level of friend as being someone to whom you confide your deepest thoughts, needs, and problems. I tend to spread those things out to different people. That way, no one gets overwhelmed with me. 🙂 The only person who really gets the whole shebang is Josh, because he has to love me. 🙂 I guess subconsciously I think if I only confide partially in any one person, if that person rejects me or does something awful I won’t feel so burned.

I’m not sure if my method is what Mallaby would recommend, but it’s got to beat carpooling anyway!

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