Science, Tech & Environment

Loneliness around the world

JC says Americans are becoming increasingly isolated but they don't suffer from it as much as some people in other parts of the world: surprisingly, collectivist cultures�Italy, China�have higher levels of isolation than do individualistic cultures like the U.S., Sweden, Denmark. The deal is in societies where the norm is to be with other people and with family, when you feel disconnected, it's extremely isolating. (So on a scale, where do Americans rate?) We have about 20-25% of Americans reporting feeling intensely lonely. (Are people becoming more lonely or less lonely in today's interconnected world?) We've looked at America and China to address that question and in both cases there is an increase in people leading isolated lives. People now say they don't confide in as many people as 20 years ago. What it means to have a friend in, say, Germany, means something else than what it does in America. In Germany, that means you can trust someone, confide in them. (Has technology contributed to those factors?) One contributing factor is the aging population and the increase in independent living�people are traveling more, have less kids, marry later, etc. Technology plays a dual role: if technology is being used as a substitute for contact, it feels like it's satisfying immediately but in short order you feel like you need more contact. (Does that mean people in developing countries are less likely to be lonely?) Again, it depends on how technology is being used.

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.