The Hidden Story of Loneliness

Posted on October 18, 2014

When you look on the news or social media these days, it appears that something has to be either “awesome” or “catastrophic” with precious little time for issues that are far more dangerous but sadly, far less interesting to the masses who are addicted to impending bogus weather events featured in The Daily Express, reality TV and the outbreaks of Sci-Fi like viruses such as Ebola.

A recent Gallup Poll has suggested that out of one thousand people asked, one fifth are living with the fear of getting Ebola, a virus that has affected 0.00001% of the worlds population and has killed 48% of those infected. It is not in the same league as Malaria but it is far more fashionable.

The chances of contracting Ebola as a UK resident are about as likely as having your anus traumatised by Elton John, yet there seems to be mass hysteria over something that is not airborne and has only affected one British resident, a volunteer nurse, who survived and lived to tell the tale.

What makes Ebola so exciting is the fact that the symptoms, after the obligatory initial flu like feeling, are pretty hideous, with blood emanating from the eyes, ears, nose and rectum. It is fair to say that crying tears of blood whilst your anus explodes into oblivion is no laughing matter, but it doesn’t enhance your chances of contracting the virus.

It appears that even dying has to be devastatingly awesome to make it newsworthy, which is not the case with loneliness, a silent killer that is more like to finish off people over fifty years old than 15 cigarettes a day, obesity or physical inactivity. Ebola is a drip in an ocean compared to the devastating effects of loneliness.

Unless you have a friend or relative who has just French kissed a Liberian after consuming fruit bat sandwich for lunch, it is almost certain that loneliness, as unfashionable as  it may be, is more likely to affect you either directly or indirectly as the years pass by.


Loneliness: More Dangerous than 15 Cigarettes a Day 

The disturbing increase in loneliness and its effects (depression, high blood pressure, suicide and bad diet amongst other things) is put down to a host of changes in society and how we live our lives in what has become a planet (in the Western World anyway) where people are spending a huge proportion of their lives in a dog eat dog environment, rather than being the social animals that has allowed the human race to exist for approximately 195 thousand years.

More and more people are working from home or on their own, fighting for survival, spending their lives addicted to competing, chasing more money and battling for a piece of the financial action that is decreasing year after year as wealth distribution become confined to 1% per cent of the worlds population who own 48% of the money.

Not that the mega wealthy are happy either. A recent American survey of people with an average net worth of $78m found that they too were blighted by anxiety, dissatisfaction and loneliness. Some of them were so messed up that they claimed to be feeling financially insecure, believing they would need on average, about 25% more money to be secure!! One respondent said he would not feel financially secure until he had $1bn in the bank!?!?!!?

We are now living in a post social age, an age where 40% of kids in a UK survey came up with a shocking answer as to what they wanted to be when they grew up. They didn’t want to be a train driver, nurse or a police officer, they simply wanted to be rich by the quickest route possible. How nice that we are living in an era where it is all about the greed of an individual and not society as a whole. Because of our bizarre aspirations, Britain is now known as the lonely capital of Europe.

What makes things worse for lonely people is that they turn to the television for company. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy where everything on the screen is about celebrities’ wealthy lives, making money, creating beautiful homes, claiming for accidents, taking out loans with sharks and generally chasing something that will make an individual miserable and more lonely than they were already.

Men, rather than being the social animals they once were, are now behaving like dogs scavenging for the remains of a tipped over dustbin.

So, ultimately, what happens when they get past their employment sell by date, is they begin to realise that living as individuals addicted to competing, chasing money and aspiration has no reward. By sacrificing friendships and family relationships they have left themselves with nothing. If they still have a partner and that partner dies, there is vacuum of loneliness that is already affecting nearly two million people in the UK.

When I was in India a few years back, a route back to our hotel from the train station took us directly through a large shanty area of the city that was a distant cry from the air conditioned 5 star hotels, Bollywood clubs and flash restaurants frequented by those at the elite end of the complicated Indian cast system.

What was striking was that whilst the wealthy carried a demeanour of intensity, competitiveness and one-upmanship, the shanty areas were awash with laughter, camp fires, and makeshift games like cricket. How could it be that the the people who dominated Mumbai’s wealth appeared incredibly serious, whilst the poor were happy just living for the moment without any concept of fear or misery?

What is the point of greed, aggressive capitalism and a keep the Joneses attitude, when the the Joneses are probably up to their neck and living a life of credit card bullshit that will eventually cave in around them, causing chaos to families and ultimately leading to loneliness? I have seen it happen and witnessed the dysfunction it causes. Unfortunately, aspiration by bullshit is an hereditary condition.

The last generation of workers who were employed during an era of of mass employment in factories, mines, shipyards and the Civil Service are now dying off and being replaced by those who became, via the media, addicted to aggressive individualism and selfishness, suffering from years of looking after number one in the workplace.

My father’s generation all played for works sports teams, forming long friendships, spending evenings at social clubs and pubs and their days looking out for each in the workplace. As well as football, rugby and cricket, factories and large organisations had brass bands, darts teams, skittles, snooker and dominoes. There was something for everyone. My dad played rugby for years then when he got too old and battered, he played skittles instead. At 82, 22 years after retirement, he still goes to lunches with his surviving colleagues.

You wont see that again because since capitalism burst on to the scene everyone has spent their careers back stabbing, boot licking, and even fornicating their way up the employment food chain. I first experienced this when a paint company I was working for was under pressure to make redundancies during the early nineties recession. I turned up to a meeting at 8.00 AM on a Monday and a colleague from a neighbouring territory greeted me in front of all the management by looking at his watch and saying “Bloody Hell Bob, did you shit the bed?”

In his mind, he could see our territories merging together meaning two people for one job. By undertaking basic maths, he worked out that if he could make me look crap in front of the decision makers, he would edge ahead of me in the job survival stakes. It worked too, I was gone within a couple months and he stayed until the company eventually collapsed under the weight of a hostile takeover. My dad or any of his generation would have never done that to a colleague, especially to someone they were going to be in the front row of a rugby scrum with on a Saturday afternoon.

That moment inspired me to work on my own for the last 20 years, but it is a lonely existence sometimes as I don’t really have any work friends with the exception of a couple of good clients who treat me a bit like a partner by doing really kind things like inviting me to their Christmas parties.

Luckily for me, I have attached myself to a cricket club and I have friends who I can socialise with without having to talk about TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex) or X Factor, but loneliness is never far from my mind. The thought of working at home all day then sitting at home all night, feels me with a morbid dread of living my latter years hating my own company.

If we carry on like we are, we will have a nation of retired people sat on their own, reflecting a of a life of greed where friendships and social functions were lost in a selfish quest for success. With heads filled with useless information and brainwashed resentment courtesy of vindictive tabloids, as a lonely tear rolls down each cheek, they will know doubt wonder what their short time on this planet was all about.

Socialism is what has made the human race survive, aggressive individualism will force it into catastrophic cannibalism. So you might as well forget Ebola, loneliness is threatening to become a UK epidemic.


1 Reply to "The Hidden Story of Loneliness"

  • Lorna Harrison
    October 18, 2014 (5:22 pm)

    One of your most insightful blogs to date. Such clarity of vision to see what we have become in society. It’s strange but growing up I thought mum was the social magnet but in truth she was a social butterfly, Dad has proved to be truly sociable with networks of colleagues, friends and family which have most definitely made for a happy and fulfilled retirement. Can’t wait to escape this self-imposed exile surrounded by more sheep than people!!

    Seriously Bob! That was good and very thought provoking!!

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