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Discussion Starter #1
Work and the Loneliness Epidemic
https://hbr.org/cover-story/2017/09/work-and-the-loneliness-epidemic

Thoughts, discussions?

I've been out of the corporate world and been a small business owner for close to a decade now. Naturally, despite knowing I'm not alone in this, I have to fight irrational thoughts like "It feels like I'm the only one" or "I'm silently screaming...I wonder is anyone else" when it comes to feeling lonely and isolated. Of course I'm not the only one. I've seen for a long time now that loneliness in our society was on the rise; after talking with people close to me, co-workers, reading, following trends and just being a student of human behavior, its clear that loneliness is a recognized epidemic now.

"During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness." - Vivek Murthy, former U.S. surgeon general
 

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I'm a Gen-X baby and in a way, I'm glad that I grew up w/o mobile phones and internet practically throughout my formative years. It forced us to hang out with people because there was really nothing much to occupy our time at home. When we need to talk to someone, we either call or meet them. We write letters and I kinda find it romantic. When we need to buy something, we visit the store. When we're at gatherings, we chat or play games instead of staring at our phones. We actually interact. I look at my friend's daughter who's 16yo this year and she barely goes out. Her connection with her friends are through WhatsApp and face-time online. It isn't healthy, IMO. I'm also thinking... is this why more people are reporting social anxiety?

Although technology has allowed people to be easily connected on a much wider scale (which is an excellent thing), what I also see is a lot of people paying more attention to their lives online rather than in the real world. Why I say this is because I often read about people saying they're always at home, rarely hang out, don't date/don't have friends, etc... but they're online all the time. And then there's online dating... This isn't just a western society problem. IMO, the more you withdraw from people, the less likely you're gonna have friends but people tend to look at it the other way (i.e. I don't have friends that's why I don't hang out). Of course you can still feel lonely with people around when you feel that you don't click with them or that they don't understand you, but if you cut yourself off, the loneliness becomes very real. Even the most introverted individual needs some degree of human interaction unless recluse is what you're trying to achieve. We need to embrace technology but not have it take over our lives.

EDIT:
Elderly and loneliness is a different thing. I used to work in a healthcare industry and we often hear them lament about having fewer friends (passing on before them), children all grown up and moved out, etc. I don't see theirs as a problem brought on by technology.
 
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I don't have any RL friends I can meet regularly because they are too busy. Luckily I have vast network of information. Sadly it's increasingly difficult to find people to talk to there.

I'm a Gen-X baby and in a way, I'm glad that I grew up w/o mobile phones and internet practically throughout my formative years. It forced us to hang out with people because there was really nothing much to occupy our time at home. When we need to talk to someone, we either call or meet them.
I remember the times before Internet. They were horrible. Horrible loneliness.
 

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I'm an introvert with close ties to my family and significant other so the rise of the internet and technology has been almost an unmitigated positive for me. That said, I think it is very bad for society at large, especially those extroverts out there who are getting a "fix" from social media. It will never replace the real thing.

Video games and other types of activities used for long distance bonding are a god send for busy schedules and lives that move in different directions though! It's great to be able to meet people who really see eye to eye with you instead of being stuck interacting with a community that may not share your interests or values. (Of course this leads to echo chambers and a culture of never compromising anything, but you know, everything is a double edged sword)
 
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And that's because you grew up in a remote place with no friends around? Or you don't like meeting people?
People aren't 100% available in high school. It only got worse later with college and work. Also, like half of people I'd meet had an obnoxious custom of inviting more people, ruining everything.
 

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Read about as much of it as I could before closing the article.

The problem is the article is focussing on work. Loneliness will continue to be a problem if one considers the workplace the solution to any aspect of the problem. In a small office, I've seen workers be close together and there's been more of a "family" atmosphere. When looking at larger offices/companies, the workplace is the problem, not the solution. There's just no incentive to connect to anyone or build meaningful relationships. If anything, it just continuously takes away from our time with family and friends (where we need to spend time). Pretty much why I preferred the places where there were only five or six of us at the "office" at any one point. I could connect more deeply with people overall. The one office where my main task was computer things was the most painful thing I've ever done and would've put me into clinical depression if I hadn't quit. Heck, I couldn't meet up with anyone and didn't even have time to even consider dating at that place. Always too exhausted with a boss "expecting" more work hours out of contract even though everyone else on the team had gone home for the day.

As for the health risks, I've seen them firsthand, and I now feel absolutely terrible now that I've heard about the woman fighting the HIV. Being sick is bad enough, but having no one that cares about you or to even talk to is borderline inhuman.
 

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^^I think he focused on work simply because that's where the majority of adults spend their time.

Y'all can keep your open plans and forced weekly lunches. It's easy [for me] to feel connected to my work, not so much the people. I can take or leave them in any work environment I've been in, so this loneliness 'epidemic' isn't that dire for me.

I do see this pattern when it comes to social media, though where societal theater is amplified.
 

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In a small office, I've seen workers be close together and there's been more of a "family" atmosphere. When looking at larger offices/companies, the workplace is the problem, not the solution. There's just no incentive to connect to anyone or build meaningful relationships. If anything, it just continuously takes away from our time with family and friends (where we need to spend time). Pretty much why I preferred the places where there were only five or six of us at the "office" at any one point. I could connect more deeply with people overall.
It's true, I also find it easier to bond in small teams. People are able to get to know one another on a deeper and more meaningful level. The HODs also play a big role in team bondings actually. They need to take the lead in building the dept culture and create platforms and opportunities for interactions.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm a Gen-X baby and in a way, I'm glad that I grew up w/o mobile phones and internet practically throughout my formative years. It forced us to hang out with people because there was really nothing much to occupy our time at home. When we need to talk to someone, we either call or meet them. We write letters and I kinda find it romantic. When we need to buy something, we visit the store. When we're at gatherings, we chat or play games instead of staring at our phones. We actually interact. I look at my friend's daughter who's 16yo this year and she barely goes out. Her connection with her friends are through WhatsApp and face-time online. It isn't healthy, IMO. I'm also thinking... is this why more people are reporting social anxiety?

Although technology has allowed people to be easily connected on a much wider scale (which is an excellent thing), what I also see is a lot of people paying more attention to their lives online rather than in the real world. Why I say this is because I often read about people saying they're always at home, rarely hang out, don't date/don't have friends, etc... but they're online all the time. And then there's online dating... This isn't just a western society problem. IMO, the more you withdraw from people, the less likely you're gonna have friends but people tend to look at it the other way (i.e. I don't have friends that's why I don't hang out). Of course you can still feel lonely with people around when you feel that you don't click with them or that they don't understand you, but if you cut yourself off, the loneliness becomes very real. Even the most introverted individual needs some degree of human interaction unless recluse is what you're trying to achieve. We need to embrace technology but not have it take over our lives.

EDIT:
Elderly and loneliness is a different thing. I used to work in a healthcare industry and we often hear them lament about having fewer friends (passing on before them), children all grown up and moved out, etc. I don't see theirs as a problem brought on by technology.
Thanks for your post. You said some very thought provoking things. I'm Gen-X too and I've thought about that too, how I'm glad I didn't grow up with too much technology in my formative years. Now 8 year olds know how to work an iPhone better than I can! I've lived in neighborhoods where there were no kids playing outside and that saddened me...I'm so glad in the neighborhood I'm in now kids are always outside laughing and playing instead of inside on their laptops.

Exactly (paying attention to their online lives than reality). Yeah we've become consumed with IG and pics and vids and FB and likes and newsfeeds etc. Its really gotten out of hand. We should have a national 'no device day' instituted soon. Its getting that bad. And yeah that's a key contributor to the rise of social anxiety I believe, is no real face time but a lot of FaceTime. Socializing just starts to come natural when you're always around people, but we probably spend more than half of our day interfacing with a flat screen and keyboard...its no wonder why we've become socially inept.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Read about as much of it as I could before closing the article.

The problem is the article is focussing on work. Loneliness will continue to be a problem if one considers the workplace the solution to any aspect of the problem. In a small office, I've seen workers be close together and there's been more of a "family" atmosphere. When looking at larger offices/companies, the workplace is the problem, not the solution. There's just no incentive to connect to anyone or build meaningful relationships. If anything, it just continuously takes away from our time with family and friends (where we need to spend time). Pretty much why I preferred the places where there were only five or six of us at the "office" at any one point. I could connect more deeply with people overall. The one office where my main task was computer things was the most painful thing I've ever done and would've put me into clinical depression if I hadn't quit. Heck, I couldn't meet up with anyone and didn't even have time to even consider dating at that place. Always too exhausted with a boss "expecting" more work hours out of contract even though everyone else on the team had gone home for the day.

As for the health risks, I've seen them firsthand, and I now feel absolutely terrible now that I've heard about the woman fighting the HIV. Being sick is bad enough, but having no one that cares about you or to even talk to is borderline inhuman.
Was the article triggering for you? My apologies, maybe I should put a triggering disclaimer at the top.

Yeah as far as work not being the problem, what ponpiri said I think is true and also he, the former surgeon general, mainly interacted with people in their workplace. I don't think he was saying the workplace is the end all be all solution, I think he added that because companies have the money and resources to get initiatives and things of that nature started. And plus yeah, adults spend most of their time at work and would probably be more motivated to take part in something like that at work.

I agree, in smaller offices you can get more of a family vibe going because you're only interacting with a few people day in and day out. But that can happen in a large corporation too because there's different teams and departments, but yeah it still wouldn't be as intimate because there's a lot more space and people to get to know. Good for you that you took the control and got out of that toxic work environment. Lots of people just stay there for their own reasons...but I'm like you; if its affecting my health I'm out of there quick fast and a hurry.

Yes, unfortunately those gut wrenching stories play out everyday (in regards to people in hospitals or hospice with no one). I listened to this NPR clip a while back and they had this lady on who would sit with dying patients who had no family or friends. I'll try to find the show and post it but if I remember correctly, it brought tears to my eyes while I was listening that there was someone out there who dedicated herself to an awesome work like that. She actually would sit with them and hold their hand, conscious or unconscious. Never forget that there are still good people out there.
 

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Was the article triggering for you? My apologies, maybe I should put a triggering disclaimer at the top.
Nah, it wasn't triggering. I've been ranting about how counter-productive to life the workplace is for ages now. The money's all that it's good for, it serves no other purpose. Most attempts at corporate "culture" are just trying to keep people at work and take away their opportunities to live life (and use the money they've earned). I could go on for eons longer.

That doesn't apply to EMS, police, fire, pilots, military, or the really small companies that really care for each employee. The offices where everyone helps each other out in and out of the office are exemptions to my rant. Basically the ones were going to work is like going home to a second family instead of a cubicle farm where "productivity" is plastered everywhere and you're hounded to check e-mails every minute of the day.
 

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Work is where fun goes to die- case closed.
 
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I think some people avoid connecting socially more because of the drama and ridiculous expectations. People use so much shaming and guilting tactics as well as power plays to push people to conform to something their ego isn't threatened by. It's exhausting and unpleasant. Many would rather avoid that and keep people at arm's lengths. So much internet validation is just symptomatic of how people use interactions as ego boosts... whether they do it in person or online, it's the same motivation.

People also have such a narrow range of how they're open to interacting that so much interaction is draining and not stimulating or fulfilling. Most conversation boils down to boring recounts of people's daily lives. Too much is deemed weird or taboo, so it all stays on the surface. Status is attached to everything....you must dress a certain way for an event or have your home look a certain way to have people over, etc.

There are too many silly obstacles and it's not just technology, but it's in our very psychologies and ideas of what is normal as well as motivations to interact (read: increasingly egotistical).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Nah, it wasn't triggering. I've been ranting about how counter-productive to life the workplace is for ages now. The money's all that it's good for, it serves no other purpose. Most attempts at corporate "culture" are just trying to keep people at work and take away their opportunities to live life (and use the money they've earned). I could go on for eons longer.

That doesn't apply to EMS, police, fire, pilots, military, or the really small companies that really care for each employee. The offices where everyone helps each other out in and out of the office are exemptions to my rant. Basically the ones were going to work is like going home to a second family instead of a cubicle farm where "productivity" is plastered everywhere and you're hounded to check e-mails every minute of the day.
I've been on that train of thought for years too...I was in the heart of the corporate world for about 8 years. At the end of the day, you are not your own. I don't think there exists a happy medium between the two extremes of: either you sell your soul or your soul is eventually stolen. And if you are in the middle, you're conflicted. Maybe that's just my opinion or the way I see it or have experienced it...but I've talked to a lot of people about it and the sentiment always seems to be the same. Its a slow steady process of the life force being sucked out of you and into the corporate demands for their success and profit. There are exceptions though I guess...like i.e. if you know people who can get you in and up, etc. But other than exceptions, its the same for anyone who has been funneled into it. Its the down side of capitalism.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
@Hypaspist I also meant to send this

Open offices are not just casually overrated...that's being nice...call it what it is - its evil - and office space reform needs to happen yesterday. Its the same thing as corporate and factory farming (hence the terms bullpen, office corral, etc). If reform needs to happen for animals then how much more for humans...it's evil to be tagged branded and cooped together to be drained for profit. And you're right, 'productivity' and 'interaction' are just fronts for what it all boils down to...minimized space = maximized dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Work is where fun goes to die- case closed.
I know what you're saying but work can be fun too. Work isn't supposed to be arduous, though that's how its sold. Work is a good thing and enjoyable. Just have to break free and find how to bring it back to its basics.
 

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I think some people avoid connecting socially more because of the drama and ridiculous expectations. People use so much shaming and guilting tactics as well as power plays to push people to conform to something their ego isn't threatened by. It's exhausting and unpleasant. Many would rather avoid that and keep people at arm's lengths. So much internet validation is just symptomatic of how people use interactions as ego boosts... whether they do it in person or online, it's the same motivation.

People also have such a narrow range of how they're open to interacting that so much interaction is draining and not stimulating or fulfilling. Most conversation boils down to boring recounts of people's daily lives. Too much is deemed weird or taboo, so it all stays on the surface. Status is attached to everything....you must dress a certain way for an event or have your home look a certain way to have people over, etc.

There are too many silly obstacles and it's not just technology, but it's in our very psychologies and ideas of what is normal as well as motivations to interact (read: increasingly egotistical).
Wow, you said it! It makes me think of a response I said in another thread, how generations and generations of dysfunction abuse and neglect have made us who we are today. Like we've hit a tipping point and we're witnessing the ugly, ugly deluge manifestation. I think the food, the family, the workplace, our technological and information age- it all plays a part in this hideous manifestation of maniacal egotistical disorder.

But what can be done? No doubt, its disgusting...if you haven't thought misanthropy or become one already then somethings wrong or you've been sheltered. But that's not the answer because you just get swept up in it and become the very thing you hate. If you hate people, no doubt you'll end up hating yourself. I think it starts with stopping, surveying and critically thinking. Also getting convos like this started. And then looking at self to see how I'm contributing to the madness...stopping it...and then creating little actionable steps towards a better, more fulfilling and sane life. Its starts with personal ownership and accountability. If we don't look at ourselves then I think we're screwed.
 

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I honestly think that loneliness is overrated.

See nothing wrong with it. I don't see why everyone has to be a social butterfly. A LOT of people intentionally choose careers and lives where they're alone and therefore I don't think that such research actually teaches us anything.
 
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