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Is modern life making us lonely?

09:18 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Across all ages one in 10 people in the UK often feel lonely, the Mental Health Foundation has found. Is modern life leading to loneliness?

Loneliness is more widespread among the young than those past retirement age, a survey suggests, amid profound changes in the way we live and interact.

In the report by the Lonely Society, nearly 60% of those questioned, aged between 18 to 34 spoke of feeling lonely often or sometimes, compared to 35% of those aged over 55.

The report also suggested that new technology may be a benefit or a burden. There are concerns that technology is being used as a replacement for genuine human interaction.

Is modern society leading to more loneliness? Is technology a help or hindrance to how people interact? What measures can be taken to help people feel less lonely?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Is modern life making us lonely?

    Our choices might make us lonely, i wouldn't blame modern life specifically.

  • Comment number 3.

    People are too busy to communicate and take the time to talk these days and prefer to speak via text or email. I am not suprised people are lonely. Many people go about life in their own little bubble and have little time for anything or anyone else--it is very insular. If we all took the time listen and see others face to face--we would all form better relationships and be happier. I am a firm believer that communication is the key to a happy life.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's people's "I'm the center of the Universe" attitude that makes them lonely...

  • Comment number 5.

    Some people do prefer their own company or the company of few people. Modern society allows these people sanctury and not having to endure other people.

    It amazes me how people assume you cant be happy without having a busy social life. Especially when your young. Most of us do it when we prefer people to phone before a visit because we can avoid picking up if we want. Giving people our email address because there is no expectation of a quick response. Various ways that people normally avoid someone.

    For some people it is a greater extent. For some people it is a lot of effort to endure other people and they often wont see it. When your friend is getting chatty with people, joining in, looks very happy in the social situation.... they may not be. They may be wishing they were at home having a quiet night.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yes, modern life does create loneliness. But it is not the fault of technology. In fact, technology can help isolated people to connect with others. Yet it can't replace the human contact which everyone enjoyed when we still had close communities.

  • Comment number 7.

    Most of the lonliest people I know have 400 + friends on all of their many social networking sites. The lonely paradox can be solved by taking evening classes, getting out and about, taking up hobbies. To quote one of the more frightening monsters from a popular TV series, 'They're all so connected, but they've never been so alone.'

  • Comment number 8.

    "How can you be lonely? you are part of the world and some of its commuitys', no one is an island, everything and everyone is joined "Peace is the way to look at the world. But Mental illness depression, bypole and many others types of mental health probelms need proper care by experts.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would imagine everyone feels lonely from time to time but increased reliance on texting/emailing/Facebook for communication instead of a good,old-fashioned face-to-face or telephone conversation is probably going to leave people feeling more isolated. Of course this is something that each individual has control over so I don't think there's any need for 'measures' to counteract loneliness!

  • Comment number 10.

    Actually, I've been lonely most of my life. Modern technology, that is the interactive Internet and online games (specifically MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft) means that I don't feel lonely anymore. Whenever I'm online, I always feel that I'm connected to a global community.

    The only thing I fear is a time when I won't be able to go online, then I will feel lonely as I was before the Internet revolution. I think that technology can help more people not feel lonely in the future. We just need to want to be part of it. People who proactively exclude themselves from technology are likely to be the loneliest of all.

  • Comment number 11.

    Its the same as anything in life - its the way you use it.

    For me modern life is great. I found my fiance through an online dating service and I keep in contact with family and friends I rarely get to see.

    That said I'm not chained to the computer and enjoy going out and socialising the good old fashioned way too.

    I know people who go to work, come home and never go out because their whole life is technology - its very sad and I can see why so many are lonely

    Its about getting the balance right.

  • Comment number 12.

    I live on my own, and sometimes don't see people outside work for days on end - no, I am not lonely, I absolutely LOVE the solitude! So many people are so unpleasant that not having to interact with them is a joy!

    RIP Paul Gray of Slipknot. Rock on!

  • Comment number 13.

    Amazing...What a revelation!

    For Pete's sake, the community has been falling apart for ages. The new age of capitalism changed our social status from "You work in order to live" to "You live to work". That and various other gadgets/services/changes in law mean we don't socialise face to face as much. There are fewer clubs, facilities, etc. The average socially inclined person can't visit pubs on weekend nights etc etc. It really isn't very safe.

    Nothing new and unless a shakedown from the recent economic collapse brings the focus back to people, nothing will change. Still, even if we've forgotten what people are for, the system makes a profit for the elite!

  • Comment number 14.

    I think that for the past 50/60 years there has been a economic agenda which focuses upon systematically breaking down the old, traditional social norms and values. As I'm close to 50, what this means to me is that I feel privilaged to have had the opportunity in my life to experience what my grandmother's working-class community-values meant in practice.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lonely, or alone? There's a huge difference. I live alone, but I'm never bored because I can always find something interesting to do, and I'm never lonely because I don't miss having someone else around. I enjoy the peace and quiet and the time to myself, the freedom to do just what I want to do. Yet some friends confess to feeling sad and depressed whenever they are alone, and seem to need to be constantly in another's presence.

    Are we talking about simple human interaction, or the lack of love, sex, and affection? If it's the former, just learn to value your time alone: in a world where we're all supposed to be constantly available via our mobiles and our internet, 'me' time has become increasingly precious. Read a book, watch a film, go for a walk, buy a cat/dog/budgie, go to a museum, learn a new skill... If it's the latter, join a dating/friendship site, join an evening class, get out more. It's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 16.

    This was predicted by Asimov in his Foundation series where he painted a picture of humans communicating only by computer and avoiding contact with others. We are a dispersed society. Back 50 years ago most lived in the same street as their family. The car is to blame along with rising housing costs that forced locals to move father afield. Community was lost as few got to know neighbours long enough before they moved again. Blame capitalism and the aspirational society.

  • Comment number 17.

    People don't choose to be lonely, it's a bit like a selection process where others have decided that you as an individual aren't interesting enough for them to put themselves out for. Christmas is the time it hurts most, you hope the phone might ring, but it never does, and then you think of all the things you've done for the people that now can't even give you a thought. But that is life, my thoughts go to all those who are in that position that don't have the means to do anything other than take it on the chin. I say, accept that this is your life and enjoy what you have in the knowledge that whilst you have your health you have everything you need. As a postscipt, there's nothing worse than having people visit you, and you know it's all to do with a mention in your will, I see it happening all around me. You would think that the extra mobility that we had since the 1960's would have banished loneliness, but it makes it worse, the elderley expect that sons and daughters have the means to make regular visits but in reallity only the really better off have the time and funds to make regular distance visits. Life is very expensive and for those whose family and friends live a distance away, then loneliness is what you have to expect.

  • Comment number 18.

    4. At 09:51am on 25 May 2010, PwnStar wrote:
    It's people's "I'm the center of the Universe" attitude that makes them lonely...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What complete and utter rubbish! Congratulations, that has to be the most inane statement on HYS all week. The world is full of lonely and isolated people, many of them absolutely lovely, who find it difficult to meet people because they're a bit shy, or they live somewhere quite remote and there aren't many people around to make friends with, or they’re divorced or bereaved, or living in a new place where they don't know anyone, or even isolated by disability! I know a fantastic lady in her 50s who lives in a little village where no one does anything very much and people aren’t very friendly who is trying really hard to make some friends with common interests and getting absolutely nowhere, through no fault of her own. She certainly doesn’t feel like the centre of the universe.

  • Comment number 19.

    Back in the 1950s and 1960s, like most of my pals, I was a member of the local youth centre, I also joined the church youth group and learned to play an instrument and joined the band. I was also a member of the Boy Scouts and the Boys' Brigade. Later I also joined the Air Training Corps. It was usual in those days for most people to attend church on a Sunday, so there was always some social event or other associated with that. Contrary to popular opinion these days, our attending church did not turn us into 'religious fanatics' or 'bible bashers', neither does it mean we were weird in any way. Church provided us with a solid moral upbringing, it made us ever considerate of others, but above all, it provided us with fellowship, introspection and a willingness not only to help others but also to think of others before ourselves.
    In our modern secular society (as some would have us believe) these social opportunities either don't exist or do not appeal to the younger generation. Combine this with the fear generated by a society dominated by Health & Safety Rules, not to mention the constant daily bombardment by the Media about 'celebrities' and how people should 'look', 'think' and above all buy, buy all their 'must-have' commodities in this egocentric, money-grabbing, 'secular' society of ours, where the majority of parents work and children spend so much time alone, and is it any wonder that young people nowadays retreat into a technological world of their own?
    It's too sad, very sad.

  • Comment number 20.

    People today are selfish and greedy. Everyone is too busy to be bothered about anyone else. Not surprising really. England's a sad, lost and lonely society and its only themselves to blame.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am divorced and live on my own, with my dog.
    I interact with people in my owrk,my outside intertests, by phone and by e-mail and I am fortunate that I travel 3 counties in what I consider to be the most beautiful part of the UK.
    Am I lonely? Some may say that, but I do enjoy doing what I want to do rather than other people comparing their lives with mine.
    We are all different and we are all individuals and one size does not fit all.

  • Comment number 22.

    Our teenagers spend most of their time at home in their rooms, where they have tv, computers, dvds, games. With the lokes of Sky+ everyone is watching something different all the time. yet with all this they get bored.

    There is all the age thing where teenagers withdraw into themselves and find it hard to communicate with parents, and have issues over appearance.

    but as someone said earlier, it is all about attitude, and if people feel happy about themselves then they will not be lonely no matter the number or quality of friends or relations they have.

    Where are all the politicians that wanted to be my friend a few weeks ago?

  • Comment number 23.

    There used to be something called society were everyone looked out for each each, but then thatcher took over and told us there is no such thing as society.

    Labour have been rebuidling society, but I fear that with the tories back in charge society and the community spirit that we have will disappear

  • Comment number 24.

    I wonder if an increase in Social Phobia might be partly to blame for this, difficult to say for sure I suppose.

    Recent changes in social dynamics could also be contributing. Of course some of this is very likely down to the internet.

  • Comment number 25.

    Is it any wonder that people of all ages are lonely? In the past 13 years we havent been liberated as the previous government would have you believe but become a nation of spys and informers instigated by nutcase fringe groups with enormous chips on their shoulders or newspapers with pretty self interest profit motivated agendas. The majority have been sidelined in favour of minorities and the damage is clear to see.Single women are told that "most" men are potential rapists and child abusers,so keep away from them at all cost.Men are told that they cant be trusted in any relationships and "will" be committing a crime at some point in their lives so best steer clear of that way of life.Women are told that having children is far to complicated for them to be proper mothers so have to be taught to parent-best if your married of course-oops! forgot no men-just in case!
    Going out on your own to even meet someone has hidden criminal intentions for sex or terrorism if you stop to talk to anymore than three people.Children cannot play outside because its too dangerous to use swings or climb trees or play inside because parents might abuse them so keep in your own room,but of course tell us what you are doing on the internet because you could be looking at illegal sites and then we will prosecute you no matter how young you are.Old people are left to die in their own homes never seeing anyone from one week to the next through lack of available carers and relatives too busy trying to get through mountains of paperwork on government guidelines on how to look after your elderly relative and why applying for any help/money is not in the public interest because its too expensive and its better to let those "wonderful" heros(husbands,wives,sons and daughters to give up their lives and look after you-and die in poverty by the time they are 50).Of course then you must not break one of three thousand new laws like the 85000 people locked away for their own good with murderers,rapists(all men?)Drug dealers and robbers. But of course dont forget children of 10,women who shop lift to get food,innocent people who defended themselves etc etc. CCTV spy on every aspect of your life including in the toilet at work!Disposable income has shrunk to limit travel or entertainment whilst tax to fund the ever growing army of snoopers looking in your bins,gardens etc;try to catch you out for yet another fine.City centres are heaving masses in the daytime trying to mind their own business trying not to talk to anyone and like hell itself at night with druggies,drunks and violent gangs running wild. I could go on and on but its not rocket science,people lock themself away and mind their own business because they are permanently stressed and afraid but of course then end up being lonely-most people would dont you think and before I forget it most importantly-we are "supposed" to live in a democracy.

  • Comment number 26.

    I am not sure that loneliness is not something to be promoted.

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 10:44am on 25 May 2010, thelevellers wrote:
    There used to be something called society were everyone looked out for each each, but then thatcher took over and told us there is no such thing as society.

    Labour have been rebuidling society, but I fear that with the tories back in charge society and the community spirit that we have will disappear


    ----

    Despite the impression they try to give, politicians have never given us community spirit, that comes from the individuals in the community itself , and it doesn't come free on a platter, you hacve to be willing to work for it, make compromises, go out of your way to help your neighbour.

    How many of us are willing to make the effort?

  • Comment number 28.

    The question here is about being lonely. I (like others) made the assumption that it means alone, yet a couple of commentors (like me) actually prefer our own company. Maybe the survey needs to be more accurate and ask if they are lonely on their own or with people.

    While you can be out in a group there are those in the group (not always the quiet ones) who are lonely. In a crowded room you can be alone. With 1 or 2 people you can be happier.

    I often wonder how many people are happy (particularly the younger people) out with their friends at a weekend getting blind drunk. To drink to the point of not remembering your time with your 'friends' sounds like you would prefer to do something else, even if you dont know what.

  • Comment number 29.

    Modern human rights promotes the selfish individual to the detriment of communal interaction.

  • Comment number 30.

    Not lonely - just sad!

    How many people have several hundred 'Facesham' friends but no actual friends that they can go out with?

  • Comment number 31.

    In recent years here in London, if I am honest I would have to yes. I am actually lonely and occassionally feel somewhat alone.

    I moved to London as part of a couple, but with one thing and another we went our seperate ways and for the last few years I have become increasingly aware that I seem to be spending an increasingly large amount of time on my own, wondering whats its all about.

    I wouldn't say I get to depressed about the issue as I have varied interests and sometimes its actually quite nice to have nothing but a coffee and your own thoughts to entertain you. But when I look at my brothers and sister and the lives they have built up, kids, home, family etc outside of London, i do kind of wonder what the hell am i still doing here.

    I suspect the reluctance to make to move out odf london and seek the rural life that i grew up in is a fear that perhaps that lonliness i feel here in London will actually be more intense and inescapable out in the wilds.

    Its a tough one I have to say...

    But thinking on it, I think sooner or later I will take the risk and leave London if nothing else it will be nice to be around family and play the role of doting uncle, always there to be tapped for a bit of cash.

  • Comment number 32.

    I am a woman in my twenties and in my opinion it is the comparison of 'how great' everybody else seems to be doing on social networking sites that really compounds loneliness. This may seem silly, but many of our generation strive from a young age to reach career goals (university, moving to a city etc.) then seem to wonder if it actually makes us happy. Seeing old friends updating joyful statuses on Facebook (how hectic their social lives are, how happy they are with their partners) has actually brought out a deal of (shameful) envy and reflection on my own life. That said - who is actually being truthful on these sites?

  • Comment number 33.

    I hope that, at some stage, the Mental Health Foundation will explain, in some detail, the difference between loneliness and being alone.

    Wisdom comes foremost from self-esteem and there are no short cuts to learning of its values and of its virtues. Loneliness occurs when self-esteem is constantly battered by external pressures within relationships, families, the local environment and the workplace. It is also derided in much of our media where "success" masquerades as a place to be when it is decidedly not a place for any sane human being.

    By putting a material value on "success" we immediately eliminate around eighty percent of the populace from seeking self-esteem for its own rewards and yet it is within this eighty percent that the vast majority of adjusted human beings will be found. Few who have "trapped" the hackneyed view of success have self-esteem.

    Experiments in meritocracy are all well and good to those who are unaware of self-esteem but they are a dangerous game to play with people who will bite back when rewards fall far short of expectations. The "bite back" has any number of manifestations few of which are pleasant.

    I hope the Mental Health Foundation will point us in a very different direction as they seek to demonstrate all that is dangerous about our current life methodologies.

  • Comment number 34.

    23. At 10:44am on 25 May 2010, thelevellers wrote:
    Labour have been rebuidling society, but I fear that with the tories back in charge society and the community spirit that we have will disappear

    Rebuilding society? What planet are you talking about because it certainly isnt the one I live on.....

    Labours misrule of the last 13 years has destroyed our society from welcoming undesirables to our shores, to making laws that we cannot get rid of them even when they are guilty of committing crime, to positive discrimination for every vocal minority group - I could go on but fear my blood pressure couldnt take it!

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm lonely because I'm shy and probably a bit of an oddball. My work colleagues are just that, work colleagues and nothing more. I do an extreme contact sport in the evenings but even there, I just go to practice and then go home again. Theres little opportunity for real social interaction. I've also got to the age whereby most other people I know are married or have a long term partner anyway, limiting the possibility of social interaction further (I'm single). There are days when I despair because I don't know what I an do to improve things.

    All this is my own fault of course because I'm an introvert. But, by the same token, if all the public sector bashing going on in other HYS forums recently is anything to go by, most people in this country are selfish, spiteful and only think of themselves. Do I really want to mix with people like that?

  • Comment number 36.

    Against boredom even gods struggle in vain. - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Comment number 37.

    "27. At 11:08am on 25 May 2010, Delirium wrote:
    Despite the impression they try to give, politicians have never given us community spirit, that comes from the individuals in the community itself , and it doesn't come free on a platter, you hacve to be willing to work for it, make compromises, go out of your way to help your neighbour.

    How many of us are willing to make the effort?"

    ------------

    Very few of us apparently, given the reaction to David Cameron's "Big Society". Strangely, the ones most anti it seem to be labour supporters that continually blame Margaret Thatcher for destroying society - I'm guessing that their idea of society is not "what can I do" but "what can I get".

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm glad the MHF and the BBC are encouraging discussion about this subject. It's absolutely fundamentally critical to the way humans are going to go ahead as a species over the next century or so, at the very least. But what isn't encouraging is just how dysfunctional human existence actually is.

    Humans have this highly flawed modern perception of our species as social animals. We're not. "Social animals" are the likes of bees: utterly devoid of individual identity and with a narrow focus on a single or few objective. Do we really want to be analogous to bees?

    We are, as Aldous Huxley argues in his non-fiction work Brave New World Revisited (1958) subject to the dehumanising effects of over-organization in the modern world: at the root of which is pressure to conform, which is more often than not the seeds of depression. We are at most, he argues, naturally mildly gregarious animals - far more like wolves than bees.

    Nobody is denying that the re-emergence of individualism as a viable lifestyle choice over the last 50 years or so hasn't posed severe challenges to a society that hadn't really challenged how it defined itself since the Industrial Revolution. But without individualism, we're barely fit to call ourselves human.

  • Comment number 39.

    "18. At 10:34am on 25 May 2010, Capella2008 wrote:
    4. At 09:51am on 25 May 2010, PwnStar wrote:
    It's people's "I'm the center of the Universe" attitude that makes them lonely...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What complete and utter rubbish! Congratulations, that has to be the most inane statement on HYS all week. The world is full of lonely and isolated people, many of them absolutely lovely, who find it difficult to meet people because they're a bit shy, or they live somewhere quite remote and there aren't many people around to make friends with, or they’re divorced or bereaved, or living in a new place where they don't know anyone, or even isolated by disability! I know a fantastic lady in her 50s who lives in a little village where no one does anything very much and people aren’t very friendly who is trying really hard to make some friends with common interests and getting absolutely nowhere, through no fault of her own. She certainly doesn’t feel like the centre of the universe."


    Firstly, thank you, I've been trying to get the "most inane comment award" for months but there's so much stiff competition around! Although it seems to have stuck a nerve with you for some reason...

    I stand whole heartedly by my comment, the fact that you can give one example of a little old lady who lives in the the back-end of nowhere who this doesn't apply to doesn't change the fact. The topic was about how MODERN life is changing and making people lonely, your example is irrelevent. Sure it's a generalisation, but so is everything. It's a social trend not a rule.

  • Comment number 40.

    "17. At 10:32am on 25 May 2010, Toothpick Harry wrote:
    People don't choose to be lonely, it's a bit like a selection process where others have decided that you as an individual aren't interesting enough for them to put themselves out for."

    Yup. It's my misfortune to have streaks of the autistic spectrum colouring my personality. No sense of humour, hard to hold an interesting conversation... it's not much fun when you actually see people gulp and make excuses for you not to visit. I tend to be happy with my own company, but still wish folks were fonder of me.

    Modern living, family disappeaing into the distance, has meant that older people must be more isolated than in the past, when susie lived down the road from grannie.

  • Comment number 41.

    26. At 11:06am on 25 May 2010, ian cheese wrote:

    I am not sure that loneliness is not something to be promoted.

    ------------------------------

    I dont think anyone is trying to promote being lonely but there are people who prefer to be alone.

    The internet has opened up many niches from pornography to specialist hobbies. People have access to many things that were unavailable years ago. As a result the popularity of some niches have grown greatly and this has been studdied.

    one niche little understood are those who choose to be alone and enjoy their own company and the company of few people. The internet has enabled this niche because we can use email and facebook without having to endure people. We can now choose when we are sociable.

  • Comment number 42.

    Surely it is all down to Margaret Thatcher and the way she carried on in the 1980's????
    If people took the time to talk to each other face to face rather than living in virtual worlds sending people virtual hugs and buying them virtual drinks, they might not be so lonely.
    I can only see it getting worse as people become more trapped in their own little bubbles surrounded by souless technology and virtual friends.

  • Comment number 43.

    30. At 11:45am on 25 May 2010, Bangla Shields wrote:

    Not lonely - just sad!

    How many people have several hundred 'Facesham' friends but no actual friends that they can go out with?

    ---------------------------------

    To be honest I have few facebook friends and email even fewer people. You assume a lack of friends makes a person lonely when I feel more lonely in a public setting. I prefer my own company and that of my fiance but neither of us really bother with other people and yet we have our own interests.

    It isnt for everyone though because we are all different. Some people need the constant validation of friends. Some people have little tolorance for crowds. Some prefer to interact only when they want to.

  • Comment number 44.

    Vanity and self-importance are two major factors which contribute towards loneliness. There are too many people who think too much of themselves and don’t appreciate the value of companionship of others or if they do to some extent they will try to take control of others and eventually nobody will want to associate with them.

    In a nutshell, they have too much self-importance and try to exercise this over others.

    I know some people who are lonely now and they used to consider themselves too important for others and were rather dictatorial in their ways.

    Blend in with the crowd and be part of it - don’t try to be a big knob or stand out of the crowd. If you have anything worthy of standing out you won’t have to blow your own trumpet, you will be recognised for it and more appreciation you will get.

  • Comment number 45.

    And another thing. I should have known people on here were going to pin the blame on Labour.

    How predictable.

    If you understood this problem at all you would know it has roots going back more than a century and a half - before Labour even existed - and transcends the whole political spectrum.

  • Comment number 46.

    "What measures can be taken to help people feel less lonely?"

    The only measures that can be taken are by the lonely people themselves, and only they can work out what those measures should be. If they need help to do that, they'll seek it.

    Why do we always feel the need to interfere in people's lives?

  • Comment number 47.

    "Labours misrule of the last 13 years has destroyed our society from welcoming undesirables to our shores, to making laws that we cannot get rid of them even when they are guilty of committing crime, to positive discrimination for every vocal minority group - I could go on but fear my blood pressure couldnt take it!"

    Don't worry, I'm sure the BNP will invite you to another punch up soon......

  • Comment number 48.

    Lonely?

    Try long distance running

  • Comment number 49.

    Not everybody is the same.

    Too much face to face social interaction has for many years make me feel depressed, worn out and inadequate.
    I cherish the current possibilities to keep in touch with friends and loved ones without actually having to see them in person or speak to them on the phone. I still do the latter, but much less, and I feel a million times better for it!

    Being alone is not the same as being lonely.

  • Comment number 50.

    No 27 Delirium, why don't you read the WHOLE speech instead of just picking on one phrase. She goes on to say, there are people, there are families, there are communities.
    This can be found very easily on a search or are you too bigoted to read it in full.
    Labour has destroyed society with its interference in every aspect of peoples lives, the 'I must be entitled to' culture to the point where most people are only interested in themselves.

  • Comment number 51.

    31. At 11:46am on 25 May 2010, Phillip of England wrote:
    In recent years here in London, if I am honest I would have to yes. I am actually lonely and occassionally feel somewhat alone.
    -------------------

    I share this sentiment somewhat, I have lived and worked in London for twenty years now and my husband and I somewhere along the way decided not to have children, whether I regret that later in life remains to be seen.

    He is out of the door at 6am so I am by myself when I get up and get myself ready for work and also generally during the day I work in isolation as many of my colleagues have been made redundent in recent months. People around me on my daily commute seem grumpy and stressed, particularly if its crowded and you inavertently invade their space. So yes I do feel lonely during the working week and my husband and I are planning on moving nearer to the South West next year, where my family are and we intend to find less stressful jobs with more time for each other.

    Of course the geographical location shouldn't matter but big cities can be lonely.

  • Comment number 52.

    People don't take the time to talk anymore, always racing around, no-one is interested in anyone else nowadays.
    The English are really bad for that, it's like you don't even exist.
    Folk still manage to say hi in Scotland, but they're getting fewer.

    I saw the best times, that post world war 2 period where people had a bit of trust and faith in one another.
    In the 1970s during the miners strike we would all gather at whichever neighbour had the gas cooker and have a candlelit school dinner.
    Something luxurious like mince, tatties and peas.

    Nowadays people would huddle all alone in the dark over a camping gaz stove.

    Too much wealth makes people suspicious and unapproachable, like a dog with a bone.
    The USA is really bad now, which is where we're heading.
    When Man-monkey gets too many bananas his desire to hoard overcomes his instinct to interact.

    The things you own end up owning you.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think it more likely that older people, like myself, are perfectly happy to be on our own for some of the time.

  • Comment number 54.

    39. At 12:03pm on 25 May 2010, PwnStar wrote:

    Firstly, thank you, I've been trying to get the "most inane comment award" for months but there's so much stiff competition around! Although it seems to have stuck a nerve with you for some reason...

    I stand whole heartedly by my comment, the fact that you can give one example of a little old lady who lives in the the back-end of nowhere who this doesn't apply to doesn't change the fact. The topic was about how MODERN life is changing and making people lonely, your example is irrelevent. Sure it's a generalisation, but so is everything. It's a social trend not a rule.

    ----------------------------

    I sort of agree with you ish. Everyone is different. Different personalities and that is why some clash. I get on with many people and find it pretty easy. Yet I prefer my own company. I feel lonely when I am out with a group yet am happier with 1 or 2 people. Most of my hobbies exclude other people but yet those are the ones that make me happy.

    This is not about being the center of the universe but about doing what I enjoy. Some people require constant validation or company yet the 60% of 18-34 who are lonely sound a bit too dependent on other people. I would expect the elderly to be worse because they have little control depending on their capabilities.

    We are all different and feel lonely in different settings. Being alone does not necessarily mean lonely. On the flip side having many friends and being popular does not mean you are happy

  • Comment number 55.

    * 23. At 10:44am on 25 May 2010, thelevellers wrote:

    There used to be something called society were everyone looked out for each each, but then thatcher took over and told us there is no such thing as society.


    When are people going to stop blaming Thatcher for evertything, have you any idea how pathetic and ridiculous it sounds. Grow some and learn to live in society.

  • Comment number 56.

    "40. At 12:04pm on 25 May 2010, Jan-Ann wrote:
    "17. At 10:32am on 25 May 2010, Toothpick Harry wrote:
    People don't choose to be lonely, it's a bit like a selection process where others have decided that you as an individual aren't interesting enough for them to put themselves out for."

    Yup. It's my misfortune to have streaks of the autistic spectrum colouring my personality. No sense of humour, hard to hold an interesting conversation... it's not much fun when you actually see people gulp and make excuses for you not to visit. I tend to be happy with my own company, but still wish folks were fonder of me.

    Modern living, family disappeaing into the distance, has meant that older people must be more isolated than in the past, when susie lived down the road from grannie."

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post.

  • Comment number 57.

    Our society has been engineered to be sceptical of others & encouraged us to be insular. Personally I like social networking sites because I can choose whether I want to interact with someone or not. I do enjoy going out, but often feel overwhelmed by crowds so prefer to 'control' how much I expose myself to other people. In fact I feel more lonely when in a crowded room than I do just mooching around at home alone.

    People's loneliness is only going to get worse with all of the councils cutting back on support services such as day centres for the elderly, which is often the only social interaction they have.

  • Comment number 58.

    Have absolutely no benchmark for this. Was a survey done before life was 'modern'? Do we have some trend data I could use? Have teenagers never been wrapped up in their own angst?

    Am sure that social networking via the internet is unhealthy. A huge % of communication is non-verbal i.e. visual, so am astounded anyone thinks that communications without either verbal or visual is going to work that well...

    There are loads of ways to stop being lonely....as there are to getting fitter, and so on...totally solvable.

  • Comment number 59.

    With young people living at home longer due to extortionate house prices, the family and extended family is being rebuilt. Likewise, the coming financial pain may be a good opportunity for people to come together.

    Less mind controlling tv/technology and for those with a garden, planting their own veggies, would also bring people closer together.

    I remember,when young, the fun we had playing cards with grandfather and all the family, instead of watching tv.

    True, some people are luckier than others with the families they are born into, but we seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater over the years.

  • Comment number 60.

    I'm not sure that technology is the cause. Maybe it's an 'enabler' of loneliness though.

    For instance, people often drive a fair distance to work, rather than working locally. People spend their evenings watching TV or on the Internet, rather than getting out and meeting people. If you want to talk to someone you phone them, rather than walking round to their house. These are all choices, but technology allows them. You aren't forced to use the technologies.

    Also, few young people are in clubs or groups outside of work nowadays.

    For people who are lonely and don't want to be - try joining a social group - eg walking clubs, sports clubs, a decent church, games clubs (eg bridge, wargames, boardgames) or maybe go to evening lessons. There are usually plenty of such groups around.

  • Comment number 61.

    It’s the difference between social aspiration and achievement. People have been sold a fantasy social life like ‘friends’ or soap operas. When reality fails to live up to expectations they become ‘lonely’.

    I guarantee there are social and activity groups in your town that you could get involved in. But that would require effort … and you will probably consider their activities beneath your ‘intellect’ … and the people may not be a 'beautiful' as yourself.

  • Comment number 62.

    these four walls never answer back... it's wonderful...

  • Comment number 63.

    it appears there are an awful lot of people blaming everything but themselves for the perceived woes of loneliness in the "modern" world... tsk tsk you finger pointers... go forth and make it un-lonely for the lonely...
    oh... you don't want to... can't be bothered... too busy...
    oh well...

  • Comment number 64.

    48. At 12:28pm on 25 May 2010, Allan wrote:
    Lonely?

    Try long distance running

    Or Sillitaire.

  • Comment number 65.

    50. At 12:37pm on 25 May 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    No 27 Delirium, why don't you read the WHOLE speech instead of just picking on one phrase. She goes on to say, there are people, there are families, there are communities.
    This can be found very easily on a search or are you too bigoted to read it in full.
    Labour has destroyed society with its interference in every aspect of peoples lives, the 'I must be entitled to' culture to the point where most people are only interested in themselves.

    Is it really any more "bigoted" than your ridiculous assertion that Labour have destroyed society ? I think not.

  • Comment number 66.

    As far as I'm concerned, I concur with Jean-Paul Sarte: "L'enfer c'est les autres".

  • Comment number 67.

    I think the last 20 years has encouraged us to be very isolationist. People are moving around a lot more, for work etc, and having to cope on their own more and this inevitiably leads to lonliness because they have less time to put down roots or make bonds within their community. Imagine a person being in a foreign country just for work; they will have left their family/friends and culture behind them, this will be a very lonely and unsettled time. I do believe that we should encourage people to live and work within their community, whenever possible, in order to make people proud of their community and to learn to care for each other and support each other. People rush around so much that they have little time to stop and talk. They spend their whole life with the "work ethic" instead of the "life ethic". Money is needed to buy things to survive but after that you need friends and family and care/love to make you content and a more rounded individual that can contribute constructively to the community spirit.

  • Comment number 68.

    Because we live in a world drenched by media, I think people are increasingly comparing themselves to Mr and Miss 'Ideal Media Consumer Person' and are unsurprisingly coming up short. Mr/Ms IMCP is good-looking, surrounded by dozens of equally photogenic friends, gets the very latest gizmo/phone/iThingy/make-up/clothes/car etc, and seems to spend life in a happy, friendly, consumerist bubble untouched by life's pitfalls and realities. People are fed the message that this is how you should be living, and they become unhappy when various aspects of that life are dangled in front of them, but are just out of their reach. It's the 'if I hadn't seen such riches, I could live with being poor' argument.

  • Comment number 69.

    50. At 12:37pm on 25 May 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    No 27 Delirium, why don't you read the WHOLE speech instead of just picking on one phrase. She goes on to say, there are people, there are families, there are communities.
    This can be found very easily on a search or are you too bigoted to read it in full.
    Labour has destroyed society with its interference in every aspect of peoples lives, the 'I must be entitled to' culture to the point where most people are only interested in themselves.

    ----

    I'm sorry, i'm completely baffled,

    apart from the fact that you and |I seem to be coming from roughly from the same direction, how does saying that people have to work to achieve a community spirit make me bigoted?


    What speech are you talking abou? there's no mention of a speech in the article.

    Who's 'she'?

  • Comment number 70.

    I didn't know what loneliness was until I got married

    then it was too late

  • Comment number 71.

    Years ago we were told that modern technology would give us more free time, and most of us would work from home.

    Are we going to find out that it really doesn't suit a large part of the population at all?

  • Comment number 72.

    I've noticed that modern people tend to make friends only for the purpose of profit rather than for enjoying other people's company. The younger the person, the more manipulative they tend to be.

  • Comment number 73.

    Modern life is trying, but i'm sure that there is someone out there who shares my views, ideals, and love of root vegetables. Blah, fiddle dee dee, potatoes...

  • Comment number 74.

    I feel insulted every time I get a text or e-mail when a telephone call is equally simple to do. Texting creates a rather negative image of the sender. It makes people selfish and uncompromising. Too many people have lost the power of speech, strength of character, understanding and ability to communicate.

  • Comment number 75.

    Have you watched the bbc series "how to live the somple life" where a parish priest turnned his back on money, and found that he spent more time interacting with his neighbours.
    There were many lessons in this series, it only finished on Friday, so may be on the i-player.

    enjoy

  • Comment number 76.

    I think it does but i think that Cameron and Clegg are discovering that "togetherness" works! I mean Cameron was cooking for Clegg the other night and they chatted over a meal and a glass of wine! Is there something they should be telling us?

  • Comment number 77.

    I feel lonely sometimes as a young person as i have met only one or two people in my life that have had the similar morals or outlooks as i do. I do not feel the need to go out all hours at night partying, to drink alcohol, to use instant messenger and social network sites that is part of many's modern lifestyle. I am quite a quiet person and much prefer to enjoy the company of people rather than a computer, or go somewhere with a pleasant surrounding than a busy nightclub or town centre. When I've had enough of socialising, I spend time on my own out in the fresh air gardening or being happy with my animals. If you ask me young people feel lonely now because there is a lack of moderation in what we do so we lose ourselves and the appreciation of the simpler things in life. We can have and do things now or later, so we can get worn out woth socialising as Enith says, or we can become engrossed in non personal activities, therefore finding any kind of break from constant communication boring.

  • Comment number 78.

    Lonley ...... or bored, as the saying goes 'only boring people are bored', i beleive lack of life skills outside of the internet or a mobile phone is what causes so many people to be insular, also has not helped the culture of young people today.

    Also such like could affect the elderly as younger generations tend not to want to spend time with their elders and would rather be playing on a game/internet or texting.

    as another saying goes 'You only live once' so make the most of it, get out and get involved in the wider comunity where you live and meet new people.

    Social interation makes you a stronger happier person I firmly beleive that that is the key to a happy life.

  • Comment number 79.

    23. At 10:44am on 25 May 2010, thelevellers wrote:

    There used to be something called society were everyone looked out for each each, but then thatcher took over and told us there is no such thing as society."

    Misquoted again.

    She did say 'there is no such thing as society', but the full text makes it clear that what she was saying was an argument against people saying things like 'society will look after people' or 'society will do this or that'. There IS no such *thing* as 'society'. Society is people working together, there IS THAT, but there is not a being called 'society' running around doing good deeds. People have to do things themselves, 'society' won't do them for you.

    This, in fact, is exactly the problem. People expect everything to be handed to them (whether it be benefits, or a social life). Instead they need to be going out and helping themselves and helping others.

    Margaret Thatcher may have done many things but she did not destroy society - people did that quite well on their own.

  • Comment number 80.

    57. At 12:58pm on 25 May 2010, Queen_Becci_B wrote:

    Our society has been engineered to be sceptical of others & encouraged us to be insular."

    Unfortunately, that's New Labour's legacy for you - maybe the reason young people are more lonely than the more elderly is because all that the young people know is New Labour's 'be frightened of everyone' terrorism, whereas older people lived a while before they came along and are happier trusting other people - because most people ARE decent, despite what Labour and the media would have you think.

    (Lots of child psychologists have said that this would be one of the issues resulting from the 'paedophile around every corner' mania which Labour have instilled in everyone).

    Hopefully this government's aims of repealing overly restrictive laws will stop the next generation from being as damaged.

  • Comment number 81.

    That's very sad to hear. Personally i'm an introvert and a loner these days and this is mostly ego-syntonic for me. Maybe i could get out more for the sake of others, but i'm not sure they'd appreciate it!

  • Comment number 82.

    I think the choice point that other posters make is important at the moment: i get the feeling there are many busy-bodies in the world who feel it their duty or just want to organise other people into being certain ways, like being 'sociable' for example. They give me the impression that they justify this to themselves by thinking it is necessary for society and the future of mankind to interfere with others. People that are into Politics can be like this often I wonder; i find them slightly crazy because they seem to me to make up innumerate assessments about 'The UK' and 'Today's culture' and lack insight into their own motivations and struggle to respect that other people might have their own agendas/values. Maybe the UK is full of fame/attention-seeking Congratulations You Are Through To The Next Roound types though!

  • Comment number 83.

    Yes, modern life is increasing the scope for loneliness. Supermarkets with unmanned checkouts so you don't even get the chance to say hello to someone; people wandering around with a mobile glued to their head cutting others off from interacting with them; others pumping loud music into their ears from i-pods to similar effect - not to mention the likely legacy of an older generation with hearing problems and the isolation that will bring to them. The scope for real deep relationships is being damaged and replaced with shallow plastic internet derived relationships. Add to that the undercurrent of aggression everywhere - the news shouting always bad news at us, footballers spitting and swearing on our TVs and on the roads people speeding and tailgating and generally showing rudeness and impatience. I'm only 49 but I feel lonely in the modern world. Friendship requires time, and that is increasingly a commodity that people are unwilling to give to others.

  • Comment number 84.

    61. At 1:18pm on 25 May 2010, Ben Essada wrote:
    I guarantee there are social and activity groups in your town that you could get involved in. But that would require effort … and you will probably consider their activities beneath your ‘intellect’ … and the people may not be a 'beautiful' as yourself.

    A rather sweeping assumption there that loneliness is self-inflicted, or a by-product of arrogance and/or vanity. In my experience, the precise opposite is often the case. People are often more likely to think that they're not good-looking or clever enough to be accepted.


  • Comment number 85.

    p.s. when i said 'many' what i should have said was 'sufficiently enough of them in sufficiently powerful positions'.. Hey i'm not innumerate generaliser!! :]

  • Comment number 86.

    Loneliness is a state of mind often cured by finding things to do.

    This applied just as much in the past as it does today. I spend many hours by myself each day but am not lonely because I am always doing something.

    I think the kind of loneliness we are talking about here is more a case of the breakdown of community relations.In the past communities did things together, now we do things in small groups or individually.

    You can feel alone in your own street because you do not know your neighbours.Often work patterns mean that neighbours are away most of the day or work unsocial hours which reduces contact time.Age and sex differences too mean that people are interested in different things.

    Social networks have become a substitute for face-to-face interactions but are a useful form of communication if people are living a long way apart.

    Computer programs like Skype are like a half-way house permitting people to see each other face to face almost in real time but over large distances.

    Getting out and about and keeping busy is the best way to combat loeliness.

  • Comment number 87.

    Humans have evolved to the top of the food chain by co-operation and communication - and we all, generally, respond well to both.

    However, today's speed and diversity of communication is being forced upon us, as a species, to a point where co-operation has been forced out of the loop?

    The most rewarding form of communication is basic courtesy toward all you encounter in your everyday life? Age, gender, culture, shopper, employee, driving and all myriad of situations?

    For example: our daughter in law in a DIY store recently, simply walked up to a couple of guys nearest to her and asked them for help to lift some large paint pots into her trolley. They had little English, but they immediately responded with a smile? The point isn't about language, but a need requested for, politely, with an equally polite response of no problem.

    So, never be afraid to ask for help, or provide when asked for, in the right situation? Trust your instinct. If a child or teenager behaves well - say thank you?

    Talk and opinion is cheap on all media - but courtesy and interaction is priceless - face-to-face.







  • Comment number 88.

    52. At 12:50pm on 25 May 2010, ady wrote:

    In the 1970s during the miners strike

    Miners' strike in the 1970s?

  • Comment number 89.

    I don't think being lonely is any different now than say 100 years ago. They say you are the author of your own life and that you have put yourself where you are today - and if you are lonely or not, then there are always things to do even if you are shy? True or False? - Who knows! :D
    I do know that technology has not made us 'lonely' but it HAS made us *insular*. I think owning a PC / mobile etc, makes you less lonely than not owning one! Technology makes us want to withdraw from real life by connecting us to a arena of electronic, egotistical 'others'. We can then 'perform' our stuff to huge audiences, be anonymous and still 'be-alone' but not necessarily Loneyl! I think if we let it, modern life will make us completely separate from reality and living in a giant cyber-space bubble... and as for being lonely or not, ultimately it is really your choice how you interact with the human race.

  • Comment number 90.

    People were once to busy or to tired to be lonely.

    But today with more People remaining Single we are finding that other then going to the Pub, there are very little other ways to meet People socially.

    The cost of Drinking, and Eating out has risen which is resulting in far less People going out for a Social Evening to a point now whereby any un-afordability aspect to enjoy yourself has resulted in many People staying in at Home alone.

    What is needed are Social out-lets where People can go along and just chat and enjoy themselves WITHOUT the need to spend money, but then the problem will be is whom is going to spend money opening up Areas for Social gathering without the needs to make a profit with such a Nation-Wide venture.

  • Comment number 91.

    If you are feeling lonely then the problem probably lies within you. If you have no-one to talk to how about giving up some of your free time to helping others? Share yourself with those less fortunate than you and you will soon find there aren't enough hours in a day.

  • Comment number 92.

    Alot of posts here seem to suggest that technology is somehow responsible for our loneliness in modern times but i think that things like the rise in social media are symptoms not rather than a cause.

    I personally beleive that the breakdown of real community is caused by selfishness in our comsumer driven society. Friendships are like commodities of status rather than mutual care for one and other. Websites such as facebook work perfectly for this... people can have hundereds of things they call 'friends' without ever seeing or being seen by the person.


    There is hope though, as we go into more austere times it will galvanise the have-nots together in real community to help one and other out. It's what the working classes always had you know - the 'lonely' status driven elite never did and have always tried to take it away from us for there own self interest.

  • Comment number 93.

    I think a big part of this is people having to move for jobs. You leave family and lifelong friends behind chasing a decent job. When you are young and at University, its easy to make friends because everyone is in the same boat. Once you are over 30 its quite hard to make new friends; people just want to leave work and go home to their families.

  • Comment number 94.

    This is about more than technology.

    The big problem is neighbourhoods. We move house too often, so neighbourhoods are unstable. Also, housebuilders and their cronies in national and local government love greenfield development, so those who can flee from the big cities to their imagined life in the country.

    So families are split up, with siblings and cousins often ending up living at different ends of the country. I feel like a stranger in my own town, with no adults in the street I live in actually born in the region, let alone the town. Virtually everyone has come from the nearest connurbation, to commute back, or moved into the area from elsewhere, to commute to employment there.

  • Comment number 95.

    What seems to cause far more suffering, illness, violence and death is how overcrowded we are. And the places many of us feel most alone are the most crowded. There are far too many of us, both on our small islands and the world as a whole.

  • Comment number 96.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 97.

    Modern life is to busy for anyone to get lonely, even all my pensioner friends are on facebook, twitter, belong to gardening clubs, church groups or just meet for coffee. I long for solitude, and days when I can shut myself away from people, and do whatever I want to do. Unless you live 10 miles from any neighbours, don't drive, haven't got a bus running past your house, don't use the internet, don't go to church or belong to clubs and don't watch TV, how can you be lonely. It is more a case of people being shy or introverted, rather then being lonely. I truly believe that lonelyness is a state of mind.

  • Comment number 98.

    Some communities are too nosy: or too closed - others just rub along or are recently/historically isolated by the architecture?

    Many people are just made to feel a nuisance everywhere they go - whether they are elders, teenagers, mothers with pre-school children and babies or the disabled? Some people are just plain rude all day long and would be happy to make themselves miserable gits in a room by by themselves?

    A disability, for example, isn't always obvious - it's not just about having to use a wheelchair or stick?

    Loneliness is just as invisible to others? Often it can be invisible to the lonely. We are all trying to be independent - financially self-reliant, healthwise, and now socially. That's the fly in the independent ointment - we should all try harder to be ... more open to offer help and be more open to help from others? It's all those little selfless things, or smiles or transient chats you do; or engage with others in a shop or queue?

    As a driver - well - courtesy costs nothing - don't downgrade your better behavior by the last 'tos*er'

    I don't know - rambled too much already. We all do these things everyday I'm sure - perhaps we all all too brainwashed by media bad news rubbish to appreciate the good we do everyday?

  • Comment number 99.

    With the advent of Urban living,when the estate workers moved from working on the land to the factories,people became less connected in many ways,the cohesion that a rural community felt and displayed was radically altered by the move to cities,because of the change in housing and how it is planned and laid out,the change in working for a capitalist boss,who required workers to repeat the same work activity over and over,instead of working for a farmer on whose land most of the workers were tenants.The eventual change from a family living and working in the same place to the more modernly recognisable economically necessary displacement of individuals over a much wider area than before resulted in the sea-change of family life for the vast majority of working people.These changes were characterised by generational differences that became ever more pronounced as time went on.Not only were people engaged in a greater variety of employment,they started to see as normal the separation of generations by type of employment,location,standard of conditions,standard of pay and the gender demographic of manufacturing work.As the idea that young people left home at the first opportunity to work in the factories and live away from their parents became more widespread and more acceptable,people started to seek ways to express their differences from their parents generation.This would eventually culminate in the invention of the "teenager" by the Americans.This further erosion of the relationship between the generations was hailed as a "liberation" of younger people from the constraints which their parents had lived with.In separating the generations in this way,we managed to create a wall of misunderstanding between the generations that had not existed previously,at least not in the same way and certainly not on the same scale.In short we set younger people adrift,before they had a chance to examine as an adult,their connections to older generations,subsequently the younger generations accepted the idea that they did not require guidance from their parents generation because school provided them with the means to earn a living for themselves,independent of their parents influence and/or patronage.So,we lose the connection with the older generation,we lose sight of the fact that they might have something useful to teach us and we think of ourselves as completely independent of any need for those connections.This results in the feelings of loss,helplessness,loss of cultural inheritance and general bewilderment at what our role and purpose is.No wonder people feel lonely,when self regard is set above the cohesion of family and community,then lonely individuals is one of the negative results.It is regarded as strange and aberrant to remain in ones parents home as an unmarried adult,even for the remnants of the old aristocracy,who held on to family cohesion as a principle of their way of life for longer than most.Loneliness is very much a modern ailment,in terms of it being such a common complaint.

  • Comment number 100.

    84. At 2:26pm on 25 May 2010, Mr Cholmondley-Warner wrote:

    A rather sweeping assumption there that loneliness is self-inflicted, or a by-product of arrogance and/or vanity. In my experience, the precise opposite is often the case. People are often more likely to think that they're not good-looking or clever enough to be accepted."

    Yes, people are more likely to think that they're not "good enough" (for some reason) to be accepted.

    The answer is really to go somewhere to DO something. Don't go to a social gathering where you all you do is talk, or mingle or whatever. Go to a bowling club or a bridge club as a learner, or go to night school or something like that. It doesn't matter if you're no good at what you're learning - most of the other people won't be either...
    Or, you could look out for a community 'clean the park' day or whatever.

    Just making 'polite conversation' is hard for many. It's a lot easier for most people to get to know each other if they are involved in a common task - so go to places where that happens.

 

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