How does it really feel to be lonely?
Loneliness is silent, invisible and as deadly as a smoking habit. Being forced to isolate for long periods of time due to the coronavirus pandemic, has made many people confront the idea of loneliness, their own and that of others, in ways they haven't thought of before. But, do we know exactly what being lonely is, and how does it feel like? In this poignant piece for The Economist's 1843 magazine, Maggie Fergusson seeks out those beside themselves at being by themselves, and hopes to find answers. "In Britain 7.7m people live alone. 'Thank God London property is so extortionate,' a single, 30-something woman said to me. 'I can’t afford to buy alone, so I’m forced to carry on sharing.' The number of baby-boomers — people aged 45 to 64 — living alone is increasing year on year. Seventeen million adults in Britain are unattached. More than 1m older people feel lonely all or most of the time, and most of them do not feel able to admit their loneliness to family and friends. Loneliness is one of the chief reasons people contact the Samaritans, though often callers find it hard to admit it." This article was originally published in 1843 magazine in January 2018.