Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness : TED Radio Hour - Deepstash

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Johnny Sun – Illustrator and writer

Johnny Sun – Illustrator and writer

He wrote and illustrated a graphic novel about an alien left on planet Earth trying to find companionship in a time where he feels completely alone.

Johnny himself struggled with loneliness, comparing the feeling to a void. Like outer space, where no one answers. 

Similarly, the internet can feel like this, but as Johnny explained he used humour and online cartoon strips to articulate his feelings and soon he discovered that it formed a small community of other, lonely people who began to connet.

 He described loneliness as an “intrinsic human state” but that through social connection, one can alleviate these feelings of crushing despair.

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Susan Pinker – Physiologist part 1

Susan Pinker argued that social connection is one of the biggest defining factors for life expectancy/health.

 Diet and exercise are important, but there should be an equal if not greater focus on social interaction and connection as a key biological need expressed in a similar way to hunger. 

Hugs and high fives release a flood of hormones (serotonin etc.) that make people feel good, heard, supported. This is an integral part of human health and long-term deprivation can prove detrimental.

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Susan Pinker – Physiologist part 2

However, close relationships (i.e someone you could ask for money, someone who could comfort you during a crisis etc.) are not always the most important.

 Weak relationships (I.e. the person who serves your coffee, the postman, a neighbour etc.) are just as important and build a feeling of security and community – humanity thrives on these feelings and have done for centuries. 

An overwhelming emphasis on individualism and self-reliance has built an isolating culture that prohibits healthy social interaction.

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Grace Kim – Architect part 1

Grace designed and build her own community living space with her family and eight others in Seattle as a rejection of suburban living that often promotes isolation and only offers a false promise of connection.

 The housing estate is designed to include communal areas (the courtyard) and spaces where people can see others (the balconies).

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Grace Kim – Architect part 2

Her design promotes a feeling of togetherness and broadens the meaning of “family” and “home”.

 They share meals at least 4 times a week, although attendance varies daily and often birthdays/annual celebrations are a group effort.

 Adults and kids engage in altercations occasionally – this is simply a human condition but high levels of communication mean these times can be talked through and solutions adopted.

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Suleika Jaouad – Writer part 1

Suleika suffered from cancer and during treatment she was forced to stay completely isolated due to a compromised immunity.

She recalls spending months in a single room and only ever seeing people when they were surgical gowns and masks. 

This was extremely difficult and she descried herself then as the “bubble girl”.

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Suleika Jaouad – Writer part 2

During this time her mother (an artist) launched challenge – 100 days of creativity. Her mother painted a small ceramic tile every day and Suleika took up journaling.

 After voicing her experiences through online blogs ect a few people contacted her, expressing their resonance. 

One of these people was an inmate on death row – completely isolated form the rest of the world for over half of his life.

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Suleika Jaouad – Writer part 3

After a period of stagnancy in her life, Suleika took a road trip (much like the creativity challenge) and met with this inmate.

 He asked her how she filled her time and when she admitted “by getting good at scrabble” he agreed.

 Him and his fellow inmates created paper versions of board games and played them in his spare time – Suleika marvelled at the “human spirit”.

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