Loneliest in the city?

It’s a truism that people can feel desperately lonely in a big city, surrounded by people but feeling disconnected, invisible, anonymous. In the Evening Standard, Ben Rogers claims that London isn’t such a lonely place, unless you’re in a vulnerable or disadvantaged group. It’s a frothy place, he says, where people meet and play and talk and loneliness doesn’t impinge even on the singletons.

What he doesn’t take into account is that if the frothy social life stops for some reason – bereavement, death, unemployment, moving away, illness, whatever – the reliance on others for your wellbeing can mean overwhelming loneliness surging in like a neap tide.

Nor, for that matter, does a busy social life mean that you’re not lonely. Being surrounded by friends and busy with social activity is no insurance against lying in bed at night, alone or otherwise, loneliness chewing at your innards. Look at all the celebs who confess to loneliness despite their high-profile lifestyle, in demand and apparently adored. Surrounded, and lonely.

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