Two Brigham Young University Psychologists have published a study that concludes loneliness can lead to early death. The researchers believe that living alone can negatively affect health as much as smoking. Their research is significant since more people are living alone now than ever before in human history. The researchers compare loneliness to obesity as a public health concern.
The researchers say that loneliness is destructive to health whether the individual is alone by choice or circumstance. Furthermore, Marc Sparks suggests they believe that the Internet – while making it possible for people to communicate in new ways – contributes to social isolation. Humans need face to face contact with other humans to remain healthy. The researchers do note, however, that sending positive text messages to a significant other elevates mood and health.
There’s a lot of food for thought in this study. Humans are social animals. We evolved living and working together in small groups, and that is the healthiest living arrangement for us. A thousand years ago, a person living alone wouldn’t be able to survive. Today – especially in the developed world – we don’t need others for our daily needs as much, yet in the long term we do. The whole situation is one of many examples of humans modifying the world so much that it’s no longer healthy for us.