In Tokyo, you can rent a snuggle. Loneliness is a health issue in Manchester. And perhaps nobody is as isolated as a migrant worker in Shenzhen. But can we really know what makes a city lonely?
New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness, if you have no inner stabiliser, wrote Henry Miller after moving back to the city following almost a decade in Paris. It could be expected that the Brooklyn-born novelist would have been happy to return, yet something didnt sit right:
In New York I have always felt lonely, the loneliness of the caged animal, which brings on crime, sex, alcohol and other madnesses. Miller didnt hurt for friends or charm he was married five times but he saw himself as an outsider, forever and ever the ridiculous human, the lonely soul, and it was his hometown that brings with it this fever of loneliness.
Could Millers terms be evidence that New York where countless people have gone to find fame, work, love and even themselves is the loneliest city in the world? Or is it possible that the person or persons , not the place, is the root cause of Millers discontent? And if so, whatisthe loneliest city?
Urban life is more stressful than rural life, but whether its lonelier is a point of debate among social scientists. A 2016 report by Age UK noted there are higher incidences of loneliness in cities, but precisely what brings it on is surprising. The same report found that gender and education are largely irrelevant except for those with the highest level of education, who are often lonelier and that household income and caring for a pet also have little effect.
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