The lonely crowd?

Posted by Rob Walker on December 1, 2009
Posted Under: America

The most-emailed story on Yahoo right now is headlined “Loneliness Spreads Like a Virus.

Okay, silly research, and fatuous deployments of the “virus” metaphor, are nothing new. But really, is this “finding” a prank?

The upshot: A lonely person is likely to lose touch with another person, who in turn gets cut off from others, and both end up on the fringes of a social group.

Well, then, uh, problem solved, am I right?

Really, even if there’s some sort of truth in the idea that loneliness spreads from person to person in the manner of the flu — wouldn’t that problem, by definition, pretty much take care of itself? How are the lonely contagion-carriers going to be spreading their awful loneliness among their non-existing social networks? What do when we identify them? Isolate them? I thought the were already isolated.

Am I really supposed to be worried about spending too much time with people who have been “cut off from others”? Is that the cure to this supposed epidemic? Are we to save ourselves from the ailment of people-avoidance by … avoiding people?


A person’s loneliness depended not just on his friend’s loneliness but also on his friend’s friend and his friend’s friend’s friend.

How did they find these lonely people with such robust social networks, anyway? Reading this makes feel like lonely people have more friends than I do. In fact it makes me kind of lone–

Oh my god.

I’ve caught it.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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