Just been listening, from the isolation of my front room, to a fascinating lecture on loneliness. American social neuroscientist, Professor John Cacioppo, has written a book on the subject. Through studying our brains, he has researched the biological effects of loneliness (perceived or real) on human beings. He found how important social connections are, and being isolated from others increases morbidity and mortality.
Charting the period between 1984 and 2004 in America, he discovered that the number of people living alone rose to 25% (from, I think, 11%) but the social networks of these people decreased by 50% in this period. The likely outcome of this will be more isolation and perhaps consequential bad health. But it’s also interesting that loneliness is an inherent trait like hunger, thirst or pain – it’s there to protect our species by promoting vigilance against social threats. Do listen to the lecture, as there's a complicated biological argument there.
This tendency for our society to become less community-oriented and more isolationist is not good for our bodies and souls, and gives strength to the argument that loneliness on a large scale is not what nature intended for us in our pursuit for long and healthy lives.