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A bold, hopeful, and thought-provoking account by “one of the world’s leading thinkers” (The Observer) of how we built a lonely world, how the pandemic accelerated the problem, and what we must do to come together again
“A compelling vision for how we can bridge our many divides at this time of great change and disruption.” (Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global)
“An important new book.” (The Economist)
Next Big Idea Club nominee • Named one of the best books of the year by Wired (UK) and The Daily Telegraph
Loneliness has become the defining condition of the 21st century. It is damaging our health, our wealth, and our happiness and even threatening our democracy. Never has it been more pervasive or more widespread, but never has there been more that we can do about it.
Even before a global pandemic introduced us to terms like “social distancing”, the fabric of community was unraveling and our personal relationships were under threat. And technology isn’t the sole culprit. Equally to blame are the dismantling of civic institutions, the radical reorganization of the workplace, the mass migration to cities, and decades of neoliberal policies that have placed self-interest above the collective good.
This is not merely a mental health crisis. Loneliness increases our risk of heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Statistically, it’s as bad for our health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It’s also an economic crisis, costing us billions annually. And it’s a political crisis, as feelings of marginalization fuel divisiveness and extremism around the world. But it’s also a crisis we have the power to solve.
Combining a decade of research with firsthand reporting, Noreena Hertz takes us from a “how to read a face” class at an Ivy League university to isolated remote workers in London during lockdown, from “renting a friend” in Manhattan to nursing home residents knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan.
Offering bold solutions ranging from compassionate AI to innovative models for urban living to new ways of reinvigorating our neighborhoods and reconciling our differences, The Lonely Century offers a hopeful and empowering vision for how to heal our fractured communities and restore connection in our lives.
What the critics say
“Evokes and updates Robert D. Putnam’s 2000 classic, Bowling Alone.” (The Boston Globe)
“A crucial call to arms.” (The Guardian)
“The Lonely Century is causing a deserved stir.” (Financial Times)
What listeners say about The Lonely CenturyAverage Customer Ratings
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- chris boutte
Great book that doesn't demonize technology
Before I dive into the review, I think it's important that I qualify myself. I'm an introverted millennial, and had it not been for technology like AOL Instant Messenger and social media apps in the following years, I wouldn't have nearly as many connections as I have now. The ability to connect through technology was huge in my life, so I'm always skeptical about books like this that discuss the loneliness epidemic. But as a mental health advocate and recovering drug addict, I know that we have a mental health crisis, and deaths of despair are on the rise. As I talk with people, I see that loneliness is a major source of our problems, so I try to keep an open mind going into books like this one from Noreena Hertz.
With that being said, this book from Noreena Hertz was absolutely phenomenal. I'm always concerned that authors of these books are going to demonize technology, but Hertz didn't do that. Throughout the book, Hertz did an excellent job backing her arguments with research and empathy while also pointing out the issues we face as a society. Aside from discussing some of the problems with technology, she dove into topics such as political polarization and the rise of AI, and I learned a ton. Best of all, her closing chapter provides a wide range of solutions. Although I definitely agree with her solutions, I can see how some would disagree with that type of government paternalism. But as someone who loves the work of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, I think these solutions could work. So definitely grab a copy of this book, and I'd love to know your thoughts.
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