Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Epidemic of Aloneness

Turn on any daytime talk show or morning news show, and it won't be long before some professional is talking about the latest epidemic to strike our nation - depression, obesity, pornography, drug and alcohol abuse, overspending, video games.... and the list goes on and on. I submit to you that the epidemic at the core of most all the other ills among the human race is the epidemic of aloneness. Aloneness is different from loneliness. One can be lonely while surrounded by many, but aloneness happens when life is devoid of human interaction.

Technology is wonderful, but I don't think there's any doubt that technology has led to more and more of us spending time away from the company of other humans. According to a 2001 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 19.8 million Americans working from home (teleworkers) in non-agricultural jobs. In that study it was estimated that by the end of 2004 there would be over 30 million American teleworkers. Given the way tech jobs have exploded, I would guess that we surpassed that estimation. I would further guess that by now there must be 40+ million people working from home in a non-agricultural tech business.

So, all those teleworkers are spending the majority of their day with little, if any, human interaction. Of course many of the at-home workers may have a spouse and children, but kids go to school and the spouse may work outside of the home. I believe that even those with families spend the majority of their day alone. Besides, it's so easy to return to the work and ignore the family when work and home happen under the same roof.

Every few years a study is done to find the happiest people on earth. We always discover that the most happy, most content people are those who have little in the way of monetary wealth, but are surrounded by families and communities of people. The happiest people on the planet are those who work hard, share much, and are rarely alone.

Is it any wonder that we are addicted to drugs, food, pornography, and many and varied forms of media and technology? Many of us are alone for much of our day and we are trying to fill the natural need for human interaction with unhealthy substitutes. Aloneness stinks!!

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