It’s common knowledge that social interaction is vital to our well-being. Psychological damage can occur from being alone for too long, according to research. The nationwide issue is becoming worse, and the surgeon general has even started using the word “epidemic.”
New Health Crisis
On May 2, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released an advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” The doctor, who has worked for Obama, Trump, and Biden, said that he didn’t consider loneliness a health risk when he first began office in 2014. After that, he went on a speaking tour around the country, whereby many of his listeners expressed that “they felt isolated, invisible, and insignificant.”
Americans “of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds” in the United States have informed Murthy repeatedly how lonely they are. This was a far bigger issue than he had anticipated. Based on his findings, he concluded that social isolation is a problem that “harms both individual and societal health.”
He argues that it is a real danger, saying that the chance of dying from loneliness is similar to someone who smokes 15 cigarettes a day and is “greater than [the risks] associated with obesity and physical inactivity.” In his study, he describes how the difficulties associated with isolation may have a domino effect on a person’s health, causing issues as diverse as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and mental illness. The information further suggests that the chance of developing dementia may be increased by as much as 50% due to social isolation.
Even worse? The ripples of the pandemic are reaching the workplace, the classroom, and beyond. Alone time increased by 24 hours per month between 2003 and 2020, whereas companionship or simple leisure time decreased by 14 hours per month, and social involvement with friends decreased by 20 hours per month.
Murthy cautions that the hazards presented by the problem are so widespread that all Americans should feel a need to solve it after seeing the figures, which create a disturbing image.
The surgeon general is calling on the country to work together to “mend the social fabric of our nation.” He outlines what he views as the six pillars needed to build an advanced social connection. He lays out the six essential elements, in his opinion, for a flourishing friendship. The most important of these is reestablishing and cultivating a culture that thrives on real connection, but others include improving community connection programs, establishing better public policies, improving the health sector, addressing technology and existing digital environments, and educating and raising public awareness.
Change may be brought about in the United States without waiting for the government to implement large-scale projects. Breaking the cycle of isolation can be aided by leaving the house, even if just chatting with a neighbor. He urges people to stop ignoring their phones, invite loved ones over for dinner, and focus on the conversation at hand.