Why loneliness is a danger to individuals and societies | Andrew Horn

The reason that I’m so passionate about
conversation and meaningful communication is because of this thing called the connection
crisis. And I am not being hyperbolic when I call
it a crisis. So AARP did a study in 1970 and they found
out that 20 percent of their members identified as being lonely. They did that same study again in 2010, and
the number had more than doubled to 45 percent—45 percent of their members that were identifying
as lonely. So the General Social Survey came out a few
years ago and it found out that the most common response when people were asked, “How many
friends do you have?”—wait for it—zero. Zero. That number has tripled over recent decades. Imagine going through life without a single
confidant. And this dearth of relationships is not just
making us sad, it’s literally making us sick. It is killing us. Because what happens when we have weak social
ties? We have increased inflammation; it decreases
the body’s natural immune response. There was a recent meta-analysis of 300,000
patients and it found that having weak social ties was as harmful to your health as being
an alcoholic, and twice as harmful as having obesity. So these wild things are happening, but so
often people are left to their own devices to figure out how to communicate, how to connect. We spend 15 years studying something like
social studies and we don’t even spend 15 minutes on social skills. And communication is the fundamental building
block of creating these important relationships, which are so important for our personal lives
and also our professional success. So that’s why we need to be intentional
about communication, because with a little bit of practice and a little bit of focus
anyone can connect more deeply with the people they meet and the people they love. And when you think about that, if you don’t
have friends that is what opens you up for extremism; it’s that when you don’t belong
you will do anything to belong, you know what I mean? So that’s why providing frameworks for people
to connect is such a vital thing.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. And have you eliminated the possibility that the detriment is caused by inability to cope with solitude rather than mere solitude? Lonliness is a sign that one is unhappy being with oneself, not an indication that being alone is in itself bad.

  2. I know this is completely off topic and irrelevant, but is it just me or is he cross eyed? Either that or lazy eyed, but there’s definitely something off about his gaze.

  3. There should be a required self discovery class. A class dedicated towards forcing individuals to find what it is that makes them happy.

  4. If only more people were willing to be good friends haha! We’re all fine saying we don’t have friends, but that’s because we didn’t nurture any and put the duty onto others to give and maintain

  5. But also remember that it's OK to be alone, if that's what you want. Society sometimes puts pressure on people to be social who don't really want to be.

  6. Loneliness can be a danger to individuals who lack the ability of self realisation. It is societies themselves that are mainly responsible for not having the friendly social avenues to promote a safe and trusting environment. Once concerned authorities and organisations understand their role to uphold free local events and fun fairs. This gives family and friends the opportunity connect with each other and bolster new relationships.

    Simply portraying loneliness as root for extremism is over exaggerating such that people are consciously choosing to be that way and shifting the blame on them to be potentially harmful. When in fact, those who have sworn to protect and serve are the ones who were negligent and looking for scapegoats to absolve of their duties.

    Maybe turning to those who are true culprits will be a good start to improve the quality of our social life. Nice one!

  7. super important topic but "lack of social skills" is not the problem, my friend.. when considering the quality /health of human relations, it's more useful to look at factors like the current economic system, the current labor-for-income model, power-related dynamics (in the workplace or in domestic environments), which are often based on and allowed by economic dependence.. then also other work-related stresses, exclusive competition among colleagues.. factors like these tend to create toxicity and disconnection in relational terms, but it is understandable: it is not an individual fault of "lacking social skills".. there also tends to be a taboo on showing or expressing emotional suffering or personal difficulties, which still probably correlates to a competitive economic system, which tends to reward those who appear the strongest and whose academic or work performances appear the most flawless.. it's no surprise that people don't become friends in hierarchical and competitive environments.

  8. Don't date single moms because after 5 years when you grow close to her children changing diapers, playing baseball, video games, home work, school events. She will cheat on you and kick you out and then you're all alone and fucked up mentally.

  9. What a good talker. He expressed in 2 minutes way more than other guests do in 8, invite him again Big Think!

    Regarding the topic. I have friends, but I still feel lonely because I'm desperate of finding a significant other to love.

  10. Yeah, I've really wondered now different/better off I would be now if i've had (real) friends for my childhood, or even right now (I'm a young adult now). Social interactions are just so uncomfortable(I may have social anxiety now, due to my lack of human interactions during my youth).

  11. Some of us prefer it this way. For some, friends are a hassle.
    I have no close friends, so there's no one out there that I socialize with. People are boring to me, the only people I make time for every now and then is my family. But mostly because I have to.
    I live a healthy lifestyle, and I'm a healthy person. I'm happy this way. It's ok to be a loner.

  12. It's a multitude of reasons why this is happening in my opinion. When I was young the mindset of the masses we re different, we played outside, families ate together and we didn't have distractions as they are today. One tv two channels to watch and one house phone. People were more connected.
    Now the mindset is social media video games and videos clips or movies. I'm guilty of it too. And from where I'm from things have definitely changed for the worst in the social sphere.

  13. I don't agree with being an Introvert but it is my power seeking right to have me time. The best thing I have found in time alone is healthier living, financial stability, family, exercise, a balanced cognitive skill in development daily. I interact with professionals in my field of work, and with family and friends on social occasions. But my time is very important to me. Balance is key 🔑 it keeps me sane, positive, and vibrant. I guess what you say is very clear to me! We have a lot of desolate, exhausted, enclosed people in the world that need an up lift. Well it works but it is up to the individual to find that out themselves their is only a small percentage who find that talking to a shrink or a psychologists works. All they need is a heap of willpower.

  14. A good reason to fund the 'dome' designed by Keats, but the internet is a great structure for connecting and it should be implying the best thing facebook is/was doing which was supplying free internet to some countries. It would 'make america grrreat' if i ternet was free. Last I check employers made applications online only(real convenient…), but of course private industries dont wanna fork over any of the beautiful family legacy of laying down whatever kind of service lines to big bad gov😱, even if it would benefit the countryfolk.
    The dome would address stuff like this and wouldnt be sponsored by any big pharma. The free internet should emphasis quotes from the guy who designed it because obviously he is a key to potential for humanity

  15. You can be alone and not be lonely i would rather hang out with me or my pet then anyone else i know. People are over rated.

  16. then maybe most of us should decide that screaming at people for saying things that aren't carbon copies of their own thoughts maybe just isn't worth it. people aren't friends because they can't be anymore. if two people aren't essentially the same (or if at least one of them isn't willing to completely change who they are, negating the whole point of friendship), they can't even have a conversation. everyone has decided to throw in with the "internet style" of interpersonal communication where nobody listens to anyone and nobody tries to understand or reach a consensus and the goal is to say the most offensive, insulting, borderline criminal thing to every stranger you possibly can.

    i can't be friends with people who are going to react to the fact that not everyone is them with social violence. you should stop.

  17. The key is to learn to be alone without being lonely. People that can't be in a room with themselves, by themselves, are people, most people wouldn't want to be around anyway. Enjoy your own company…and others will too.

  18. He may be an extremely educated and well-spoken individual, but loneliness is not more damaging than being an alcoholic or obese.

  19. All this is quite simply the natural result of a culture with hyper-individualistic values. Which, in all reality, are built on a false dichotomy. Because, despite anyone's struggle to accept both sides of the associated cognitive dissonance, we're each simultaneously both individuals and members of our community.

    It's no coincidence that communication, community, and Communism share the same Latin root. And fear of Communism plays a large role in shaping our hyper-individualistic culture. Particularly where people don't understand the difference between Communism and a totalitarian dictatorship. (In reality the relationship between government and the market is a separate question from who governs.)

    Of course it's sadly ironic that people would need to seek a sense of belonging among others who see only a world full of enemies, and thus they've all individually found that they have no friends. It's also ironic that, while we should be wary of the conformism Communism implies, rampant consumer culture is also quite effective at creating incredibly shallow, empty, and even often cliquey strains of conformism.

    But most conformist of all is the notion that we need others to think, live, and pray like we do to regain our lost sense of community. This is not only completely false, it's what has succeeded in undermining our sense of community. Because what's needed is to accept our differences so we can each celebrate them, and together celebrate everything else that we have in common (there's that Latin root again).

  20. Typical extroverted douchebag. Fuck off, not everyone wants or needs to have social connections. I'm never happier or more content with my life than when I'm alone. All I've ever wanted is for the whole world to fuck off, but for some reason they won't.

  21. Im pretty sure I have zero good friends. I have lots of fair weather friends, but that's it I have 500 Facebook friends yet none I would call a true friend.

  22. I can communicate but after a few minutes people disappoint me. I've heard their arguments thousands of times, I'm not interested. I don't need people to pretend to be interested in me just as I feel exhausted pretending to be interested in them

  23. As soon as this guy insinuated that inflammation is a cause of poor health (rather than a symptom of it) I knew he was just spreading woo and it was safe to ignore the rest.

  24. i used to run my mouth about anyone and anything, not realising that people use that information against you (or certainly see you in a particular way, perhaps more negatively). honesty certainly matters but now that i've aged in my wisdom, i realise that you need to keep some cards to yourself.
    i've come to the conclusion that people are always on the look out to one-up or take advantage of the next person so they are constantly sizing you up to see how can they do this. people are vultures. i'm sure there's some people who are more sincere and genuine than others, but all in all, when people catch you in a weak spot, they're going to pounce.
    feeling a sense of belonging and having good company is definitely therapeutic and food for the soul but it's very hard to find that. i find myself veering away from and being avoidant of people because of their two-faced and shifty traits and i often find peace in being alone. i'm sure it's somewhat damaging to me to tend to want to be alone because as humans we need that connection but i guess i've just had enough of people and their BS. i've gotten to the stage in my life, where i wouldn't necessarily see people as confidantes because of aforementioned reasons – people just seem to use your weaknesses and vulnerabilities against you when they get the chance – but i do see value in them in just having a general yarn and doing things like going to events together or having a coffee and having more general-based conversation.
    i think as you get older, there is less of a need to find solace in others. you have to find a way to rely on yourself and find your own company enjoyable. but even if you're a people person it's best to be able to enjoy your own company once in a while. you have to be happy in yourself first rather than having someone else be your happiness, although obviously people can make you happy. it's like they say, if a person says they're bored, it's most likely because they themselves are boring. with respect to a partner, then you would be looking to have them be a confidante and your comfort among other things, but friends are very fleeting. so with regard to ''friends'', the trust factor isn't really there. someone may seem trustworthy, but if there's one thing i know about people, it's that they fucking change like night and day or probably more to the point, their true colours finally come out. a partner has more of a vested interest in you and even then you want to be very discerning about who you get close to.
    also, ever been in a group with your ''friends'' or a group of people and felt completely alienated and disconnected all the same? you'd definitely prefer your own company in that instance.
    relatively recently i began to flake away from my ''friends'' just because i felt that i couldn't really trust them, suspected them of gossiping behind my back (which let's face it, everyone does, so it's best not to give them any fodder) and generally wasn't really enjoying their company on outings. i found myself going out not so much for the ''catch-up'' but more for the outing's sake – to try a new venue, new food and have an excuse to slap some makeup on and get dressed up. finally, i basically just quietly deleted my facebook, got rid of any trace of social media and flaked out on them. and strangely enough, i don't feel sad or lonely. i felt and still feel a sense of freedom and relief. people can be just as much of a burden as they can be a source of joy, the latter just doesn't occur too often.

  25. I do and don’t agree with this. As someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere with no friends and little socialization, I’ve grown accustom to the feeling of loneliness, I don’t necessarily need friends. However, it does become troublesome when the same problem interrupts necessary interactions; phone calls, checkouts, ordering at restaurants, conversation, all nearly impossible due to that anxiety. Perhaps we should pay some mind to that, as it seems to be becoming more prevalent.

  26. Men have no future in a feminist world We're Men are responsible for women only choices to reproduce or not through the government regardless of their Association to these women..

    The loneliness is directly a result of destruction of families in which we had a natural belonging, tradition and purpose which is be replaced with a single mother epidemic worldwide destroying the relationship between the sexes in a way which may never heal again.

  27. I also agree 100 %. But I also noticed that this video is just a tiny snippet on what can be discussed on the subject. We don't discuss this issue enough.
    I also think that so many people are lost within the dark bubble of social media and the devices that bring social media into our world.
    Most people spend their hours communicating with total strangers and making pseudo friends than trying to make real friends with the people around them.
    Having 500,000 pseudo friends on facebook is far more important than having a real flesh and blood friend by your side.
    These issues are far too many and too complex for my meager mind. But I would love to see and hear far more discussion on the subject.

  28. A major part of the problem is the ultra-PC weak sauce snowflake culture we now have. You cannot have a normal conversation with people anymore without being attacked or accused of some "-ism". Anyone with an opinion is going to run into this. It makes you not want to talk to anyone anymore. Besides, online you can find people speaking honestly, openly, and about topics that are near and dear to your heart, and not just toeing the official "party line".

  29. I can't even socialize online. I don't even have "Internet friends." You can imagine what a mess I am in real life situations. This has been a problem my entire life. It made me sad and lonely as a kid, but as I grow older the more I just get used to it. I've also learned, not from personal experience, but the testimony of many, many others, how dangerous trust can be. A lot of people I once admired and respected, albeit from a distance, turn out to be monsters. I can't even imagine what that must be like for the people who were close to such people and only knew the facade.

    If being alone means I die younger, then so be it. The sooner I fade from existence the sooner I can finally have peace in my life.

  30. I dont talk to people i kind of dont want to world bores me im not interested in anything all i do every day is sit and watch random youtube videos every day im waking to same thing which is random youtube videos i dont have job for half a year already and im kind of thinking i will end up killing myself i dont talk even to my family cuz they bore me like everyone else who have ever been around me now im even scared to go out of house to do groceries or even breathing fresh air becouse i feel like people around judge me

  31. I'm a misanthrope and i don't care about what society says.It's better to be alone than in the group of fake friends. The majority of people nowadays have friend groups that are like a bubble that you're not allowed to break into. they're uninterested, lazy to make a move, if you ever make a new friend, chances are they're just as lonely as you are. On the other hand, you can be surrounded by lots of people and still feel lonely. It's important to choose the right company and that doesn't happen overnight.
    If you don't make these friends during school or in your neighborhood, through business connections, this is the reality for you. Accept it and start loving yourself as you are, as a loner. Work on becoming the best version of yourself and It will be much easier to meet new people from that standpoint and attract the right ones

  32. Thing is how do you make friends that have substance to them, I know a lot of people but they still feel like strangers

  33. I have a friend that believes that she's better off without friends or socialconnection since she feels like she gets misinterpreted alot. I do to but i take the battle and try to convey what i mean even if it takes some time (my thoughts are somewhat of a mess, ADD person here!).
    But i told her that sure, it'll be fine the first, second or third week, maybe month/months but that i think its really bad for her. She's already somewhat isolated, does not hang with friends except through online chatrooms.
    People are packanimals, social animals and even unsocial and really introverted people has a few friends they can turn to if they really need to even if its only once or twice a year (maybe extreme case but still).

    I just think he takes it for granted since he actually has friends that care about him even if they can sometimes be rough/tough of her. They discuss his topics since they want to understand what he means and she can sometimes be extreme in some things she wants to do, like going 100% with training and dieting even tho its really better with a few steps at a time so you won't give up too fast.
    And if you talk too much about something like training it can or will give you that high and sense of accomplishment even tho you haven't done anything. Its contraproductive, "just" do the thing ^^

    But yeah, i think she'll get too lonely if she even closes off her online friends.

  34. Cellphones/Internet will make this skyrocket even though those people think they have thousands of friends (followers).

  35. So in short: Is technology helping to kill humanity?
    Will we become extinct because we give too much time to machines instead of people?
    This might be one of out biggest errors ever…

  36. i have good social skills and lots of friends ..

    but sometimes when i isolate myself i can really feel the down side of loneliness and its toxic .

    also being lonely is not estimated by the number of your frindes .

  37. What the extroverts don't understand is that some people need their alone time. We introverts find people to be emotionally draining, and we need our space. Stop being so introvertist.

  38. Social interaction is necessary for surviving dangerous events. That's really it. Now, wanting to be involved with the idea of a "romantic" relationship because you thing it is "magical", is ridiculous.

  39. I’m an introvert so I quite enjoy being alone, away from other people.

    But I understand most people are extroverts and need the socialization.

  40. Absolute garbage. Humans have only been living in communities for about 10,000 years, and people frequently live in isolation for most (if not all of) their lives. Some do it by choice, some by necessity, but they get through things just fine. All types of envy will make you depressed, and loneliness is only born from envy.

  41. Want to talk lonely? Try being a white male conservative Christian Republican in some leftist hell hole like LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle… Back when Democrats had their Ku Klux Klan and mostly went after black people, at least black people knew with whom they could connect and with whom it was unwise to try to connect — skin color told you almost everything.

    Now, with Democrats back into one of their particularly aggressive and violent modes, normal people have to be extremely careful about what they say to people they don't already know well, which means we tend not to get to know new people. This sick, violent, bigoted religion practiced by the filth who populate the Democratic party is a danger to individuals and to society.

  42. "If the young are not initiated into the tribe they will burn down the village just to feel its warmth." — African proverb

  43. love Big Think, one technical point though – this lighting setup should be altered for future vids, the reflections on his eyes cause his eyes to appear to be looking in two different directions throughout the video

  44. Everyone wants friends, but none is willing to be a friend.
    Anything on the outside stems from the inside.
    Be somebody you're proud of.

  45. It's been a long time been a long time / Been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely tiiiiimeeeeee.

  46. I'm literally dying from loneliness… The stress, the pain, the feel of uselessness really starts to take it's toll and it has been eating away at my soul for years. It has come to a point where I just don't care about anything anymore (which may contribute to my name)… Hell, I honestly think I developed heart problems because of this situation.

  47. I am totally lonely, so tell me what social skills I don't have, I think my social skills are fine, I am just totally alone.

  48. I am a truck driver, and I can count how many words I share with people, most at the register. I feel like driving off bridges.

  49. I'm a black woman in America.
    I have NO friends ( my only friend & best companion killed herself )
    I'm not a slut and don't chase men either
    So now I only have myself
    This society has proven itself untrustworthy, dangerous and malicious to ppl like myself. (I knew ppl who were friends w/Sandra bland so this isn't hyperbole)

    My lonliness isn't a matter of effort, but continual peer rejection.

    In my spare time i watch foreign horror flicks, anime, read and reflect on my miserable little life.
    I lift weights and go for drives/walks.
    And I sketch.

    That's the "impressive " lump sum of my life

    At this point, my death is near. All I can do with my life is stop the cycle. And ensure that I don't have children so they don't carry on this very way.

    Again, my only friend committed suicide.
    I cleaned up her blood & carry her autopsy report so she's never forgotten.

    So yeah.

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