Redefining loneliness

Gill Eapen
2 min readApr 1, 2024

--

A recent article describes the “efforts to broaden the definition of loneliness to include a feeling of disconnect from humans, animals, places, habits, and rituals” (1). Loneliness appears to have significant deleterious effects on health, some studies showing over 30% increase in cardiovascular diseases and premature death. The social instincts of homo sapiens seem to have created a significant issue in the modern context.

Loneliness is a complex construct. The human brain stores and uses information in many contexts. Its utility function appears to be based on attributes handed down from generations before, only marginally modified from present experiences. The human survival was largely dependent on social connections among others and her surroundings. Selection would have nourished models generally more social than average but then the modern context has little value for most of it. The recently concluded pandemic experiment demonstrated two classes of humans, one that is more comfortable with human contact in close proximity and the other less so, the former showing a drastic loss in utility and the other generally doing much better. In either case, loneliness appears to be a bad for human health and psyche.

This has many policy implications including the structure of societies and organizations, design of cities, education, religion, and healthcare. Egalitarian societies and flat organizations that provide a larger concentration of horizontal connections may show dominance in minimizing aggregate loneliness. Education based on remote technologies may be inferior, religious or other such affiliations may provide a positive value and healthcare costs can be substantially reduced by focusing on this attribute. Minimizing per capita loneliness could be an important policy axis for countries.

Loneliness, broadly defined, arguably is a pandemic that is destroying humans from within.

(1) Why scientists are expanding the definition of loneliness (sciencenews.org)

--

--

Gill Eapen

Gill Eapen is the founder and CEO of Decision Options ®, Mr. Eapen has over 30 years of experience in strategy, finance, engineering, and general management