Loneliness in the age of mass communication

A survey last week found that up to a third of us feel lonely at times in our life, senior citizens being the most vulnerable.

Do you not find this surprising when you consider the fact we live in the age of ubiquitous communication?

Never has it been so easy to make contact with friends and relations, anywhere in the world, via the phone/email/facebook, yet, still, so many of us feel lonely.

Emptiness, or a feeling of isolation, can be felt at any age but there is no doubt these feelings are most prevalent amongst the oldest generation.

As friends pass away, families move away and the pressures of the middle generation’s work take hold and bringing up their children becomes ever more demanding, whole days can go by and there are many old people who will not have spoken to anyone face-to-face.

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Many pensioners are treated like refuse, tossed aside as an inconvenience, no longer of any use.

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How times have changed - nowadays there seems so little respect, let alone reverence, for the aged. Our society puts no importance on the elderly, our young people’s minds trained from an early age to concentrate principally on their personal computer screen, in front of which they spend most weekends, when once they would have been visiting grandma and grandad.

If you dare speak up for the plight of the elderly in this country, you are called ‘old fashioned’, ‘out-of-touch’.

We should be ashamed of ourselves that we have allowed puerile unrestraint to dominate our lives - you know what I mean, let’s make a disgusting, personal joke about somebody else’s shortcomings (and the elderly are a regular target for this, including our octogenarian reigning monarch): ‘For God’s sake, lighten up, I was only having a laugh’, comes the predictable rejoinder.

The truth is, society has lost its sensitivity and the substantial tranche who are in the vanguard to pay the price for this are our senior citizens, who, despite the fact we are living in the middle of an ongoing technological revolution, often feel isolated, unwanted, ignored.

Many of our oldest generation may never have been on their own, as it used to be that you lived with your parents right up until your wedding day. How do you think it feels living on your own for the first time in 70-odd years?

Sure, there are help groups to be found but we should not allow this fact to afford us an excuse to pass all responsibility onto their shoulders.

Let’s all pull together and make an effort in our busy schedule to think about those potentially lonely people living in our midst - as the survey states, a substantial, and inexorably rising, percentage of us.

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