Loneliness afflicts enough of us at some time or another to find Age UK’s latest report depressing indeed. Several newspapers headlined this hidden ‘epidemic’ amongst the elderly.
Horrifyingly half a million over 60s routinely go an entire week without meeting anyone and most spent Christmas and New Year on their own.
It is something we'd rather not face thinking about. Loneliness has to be right up there at the top of the human fear index. Most people hate the thought so much they would do anything to avoid it. Anxiety adds to their fear.
The options are few: go to ground to hide the shame; or adopt the bravura stance that no one believes:'I prefer my own company’; risk pity or pointless social encounters and compromises in equal measure.
There is no quick fix, not even for the most socially pro-active. The older you get the more you accept defeat.
Reality bears little resemblance to the dramatised and romanticised versions cinema feeds us of our modern dysfunctional living arrangements with their statistically totally unlikely happy endings. No more are the magazine lives of those desperately attention-seeking but lonely celebrities really desirable. Loneliness is not glamorous.
The disparity between liberal fiction and reality just gets wider.
Aloneness is not how human beings were evolved to be. We are not designed for it. Humans are necessarily social pair bonding primates.
It is all the more ironical that this ‘modern curse’ results from the extreme individualism and 'freedom' Western society celebrates and affluence allows.
The liberal Left either refuses to make the connection or thinks it a price worth paying for. They should be warier of what they wish for.
For loneliness is set to get very, very, much worse.
More of the middle aged are, already, living alone than ever before.
At the other end of the spectrum the ’snowflake’ generations Y and Z are lonelier than any ‘youth’ generation before them.
Young women live in fear of the single lives many are now doomed to lead, as Laura reported recently. ‘I can’t do it’, one miserably confessed, when told by her feminist mentor to get real about the reality facing her.
There’s little to suggest we can rely on our children to ‘lift’ society out loneliness, James Bartholomew's answer to the problem. Too many are from ‘fractured families’. Far fewer find themselves at the centre of family kin networks than in previous generations. Burdened with debt and homelessness they have fewer resources to draw on for themselves.
The future for them is bleak – virtual face book friendship in an ever more-atomised society.
Age UK tells us we need to wake up to the loneliness epidemic. We do indeed. But the idea that an over burdened state ‘public health’ response, or charitable ‘befriending services’ can solve the problem is simply deluded.
Intrusive once a week spot checks for the old by local authority ‘carer’ pairs (for compliance) when local authorities can’t manage current ‘social care’ demands are not the answer. They don't replace real relationships or the comfort of intimacy. They'll only mean more taxation and families (the antidote to loneliness) less able to support themselves financially – if they can afford to have children in the first place.
What’s needed is something far more revolutionary: junking everyday and every other sort of selfish feminism that's poisoned male /female relations, destroyed the family and undermined its economy.
It also means more sense and less sensibility in how we bring up children. My colleague Laura is clear about the legacy of my and successive generations of mothers and fathers: “Girls cannot cook, balance a cheque book let alone play an instrument; they have a hugely overinflated sense in self and many are overweight and unattractive yet at the same time totally immodest”. She is right. They are not equipped to look after themselves let alone others.
Boys are no better. Most can’t change a tyre, put up a shelf or do any basic electrics. They haven’t had fathers to show them – or make men of them.
“Today’s twenty somethings are probably the first generation to be totally immersed in feminist clap-trap not just by media, but by schools, university and their dopey feminist mothers. It's not their fault really - they had no escape”.
Feminist personal fulfilment clap-trap breeds loneliness. It has already pushed men to the economic and social margins and women into single state-dependent parenthood or into a barren work life.
The ball is in the women’s court. The quicker they stop passively adhering to daft dogmas and fess up to what they really want the sooner there's a chance of our solving the problem called loneliness.
(Image: Hernán Piñera)