In March 2020 the world closed down and stayed completely or partly closed for two and a half years. Most arenas where humans go for companionship, such as offices and concerts, weddings and funerals, disappeared or were decimated overnight. It’s as if the whole world has taken part in a huge experiment in loneliness, according to author Hilde Østby. The result of this experiment is worth dwelling on, as it’s not an easy diagnosis to just brush off. Research shows that loneliness, if it is chronic, is more dangerous for our health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
In Map of Loneliness Hilde Østby approaches the subject on a personal, philosophical and journalistic level in order to get to grips with loneliness – one of our most enigmatic and under-communicated public health challenges. She shows us what loneliness does to us and asks where it comes from. That is a question which can be answered both medically and existentially. Maybe the mechanisms which drive us apart could later bring us back together? In that case loneliness is something we must solve as a community, through community, and for the community.
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