Sunday, 21 January 2018

fortress of solitude

The UK has just minted a new cabinet position for the May government to redress “the sad reality of modern life”: loneliness.
There’s some rather alarming and sobering statistics behind this move which seems an efficient way of countering a whole host of potential (I add this for the misanthropes out there who would need to be persuaded that the cure is worse than the ailment with some random do-gooder popping round to keep you company) mental and physical ills and the office would be comprehensive and multidisciplinary, working across different public spheres to ensure mobility and genuine contact, perhaps even starting early on and pre-empting the pressure to self-segregate in schools not by kind or class but rather by a single-sighted push for competitiveness and modelling resolute and determined quitters—forever seeking out the next big thing. While I agree that it is a mark of maturity to recognise that we’ve moulded our society in such ways as to minimise casual human interaction—even investing more time and money into gadgets, occupations and industries that make actually talking to one another infinitely avoidable and superfluous, with the same party advocating austerity measures that undermined the commons and other civic institutions, I wonder how the work of the ministry will manifest itself. What do you think? I think trying to legislate togetherness and involvement over vanity projects is admirable but I hope the outreach is not through gimmickry—awareness pamphlets and a calendar’s worth of neighbourhood fetes that have just become venues for fly-by-night profiteers—and perhaps rather a bit of the isolating hair-of-the-dog that turns one’s network into a true social safety net.