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Minister for Loneliness

Posted January. 19, 2018 08:53,   

Updated January. 19, 2018 09:23


There is a significant difference of meaning between loneliness and solitude. While loneliness has a negative connotation, solitude is rather positive. If you feel alone and distressed about your disconnected, non-voluntary and alienated state, you are lonely.

If you feel happy and content spending time alone, it is likely that you are in solitude. This is why the popular Japanese manga series, which features the protagonist enjoying cuisine at restaurants alone, “Kodoku No Gurume” is titled “The Solitary Gourmet” instead of “The Lonely Gourmet”. Loneliness in the 21st century has become a social issue that requires state attention and measures, rather than a personal misfortune. Lonely people have a higher risk of suffering from depression and dementia. Last year, a British report revealed that loneliness is bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

British Prime Minister Theresa May recently established a position of Minister for Loneliness, appointing the undersecretary for sport and civil society to take on the role. The measure seeks to link the values promoted by the Loneliness Commission, which was led by Jo Cox, a lawmaker who was killed by a right-wing extremist in 2016. It shows that Britain is taking the reality seriously: approximately half of British aged 75 or more live alone and nine million people suffer from loneliness. The solo dining/drinking fad that has become a popular trend in Korea may appear intriguing now, but we may face a similar situation on loneliness someday.

According to the UK National Health Service, loneliness is influenced by the season, particularly fatal in the cold winter. The treatment, as advised by experts, is simple. If you are older, start a new hobby or join a volunteer group, talk about your emotions to others. If you are younger, increase direct contact, such as meeting with people (physically, not digitally) or talking with someone on the phone. Remember that loneliness is a natural emotion that can be felt by anyone, though others may appear to live busy and fulfilled lives. How versatile are the emotions of thee, feeling the joy of solitude and yet the pain of loneliness. Frailty, thy name is human.