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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Headline, Liz's Rants » Liz’s rant: Loneliness – the new pandemic

Liz’s rant: Loneliness – the new pandemic

liz and kate cup asterisk patternSometimes it’s all I can do to keep my sanity in a world of the perpetually insane. And while there may be those who would argue that I’m the crazy one, I challenge you to prove it, especially in light of the results of this study, which appeared in the Washington Post.  I’m telling ya – I don’t make up this stuff. In fact, I’m not sure even I, with a creative mind extraordinaire, could manage to concoct such madness.

Enter the first sentence of said article: “Loneliness is like a disease — and what’s worse, it’s contagious.”

Not only is it contagious, these researchers declare, it can be passed on indirectly – as in to a friend of a friend of a friend. Or maybe even to a friend’s uncle’s parrot, for that matter.

The icing on the cake? The study was federally funded. As in your tax dollars went to pay for it.

Many would argue if you hang around a negative person, you can begin to feel negative yourself – or at least uncomfortable with all that negativity. You know, a “birds of a feather” mentality” (which by the way, these researchers insist plays no part in the disease that is loneliness). But if you are lonely, how many people are you hanging out with in the first place? And before you decide to chime in with the ol’ adage of how you can be surrounded by people, and still feel lonely, save it for the Washington Post reporter, who also had this to say about the study:

“The seemingly paradoxical finding is far more than a psychological curiosity. Loneliness has been linked to a variety of medical problems, including depression, sleep problems and generally poorer physical health. Identifying some of the causes could help reduce the emotion and improve health, experts said.”

Well, DUH!! How are those finding a paradox? Anyone? A decade-long study just showed what anyone with an ounce of common sense could deduce on their own.

Of course, the research is not without nay-sayers, who conducted their own research, which could probably rank even more insane than the research in question (and yes, that research was federally funded as well):

“It is unclear whether their statistical model will ‘find’ social contagion in every outcome they examine because of the limitations,” Jason M. Fletcher of Yale University wrote in an e-mail. He and a colleague conducted a similar analysis using data from a large federal survey to show that acne, headaches and even height could appear to be spread through social networks if not analyzed properly.”

This is the point at which I tell you I am almost speechless. Except to say you may want to pick your friends via a more thorough vetting process. Ask those pointed questions:

  • Are you, or have you ever been lonely?
  • When was the last time you’re face broke out with zits?
  • Does your head currently hurt? Has it hurt in the last week? In the last month?
  • How tall are you and those with whom you hang out? Do you wish you were taller? Shorter?

Clearly, we have a pandemic on our hands, here. But it’s not loneliness. It’s the inability of people to draw common sense conclusions without spending our tax dollars to fund years and years of research. Loneliness might well be the least of our worries.

liz pic-Liz

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