I know the Covid pandemic hasn’t helped but I feel that loneliness is seriously on the increase. I read, though, that it has been on an upward spiral since the 1980s. There is an interesting theory that blames the “free market”, which has been ascendant since the 1980s – Reagan and Thatcher were the public faces of this ideology with their “government is the problem” and “no such thing as society” mantras. So, how does the theory go? It argues that it is better for the neoliberal economy if people are living in isolation. In the playbook of the advertising industry's "mad men", discontented, disconnected, unfulfilled individuals make for compulsive shoppers. The advertisers can then sell self-fulfillment as commodities that you can buy in the shop.
The sense of community seem to have gone with it – we seem compelled to live individualistic lives, self-reliant, competitive, with no one but ourselves to blame for being “losers”. The ideas of shared responsibility and the common good seem to have been left behind and what we now have is scapegoating, exploiting people’s insecurity, and blaming the victims.
Isolation and loneliness seem to affect the elderly – and the young most of all who have been called the atomized generation, living their lives with little sense of being part of a community. I think “the lonely city” is not far off the mark, whoever coined it. 
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