Why America Needs a
Minister of Loneliness
In January of this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May created a new government post titled Minister of Loneliness. May created the position to not
only combat the ills associated with loneliness and disease, but also to get at some of the root causes of social isolation that can lead to death and
violence, which she referred to as “the sad reality of modern life” for a sizeable number of citizens in the United Kingdom. Sixty-eight percent of people in
the UK report feeling lonely and perhaps even more critical is that 83 percent between the ages of 18 to 34 experience loneliness. The younger
generation is turning to social media and other forms of technology, which leads to further isolation. And the unfortunate reality of America is that it is a
growing epidemic right here and in other parts of the world as well.
In a recent poll conducted by health insurance company Cigna, which asked such questions as, “People are around me, but not with me” and “No one
really knows me well.” In a surprising discovery, results of the survey discovered that younger Americans are more likely to feel lonely than older
Americans. One would think it would be the opposite; however, in today’s society it is simply not the case.
The younger generation’s greater propensity in terms of using technology and social media increases the likelihood of less and less face to face human
interaction. And this lack of human interaction can lead to dire consequences for our society through the formation of hate chat groups that ban together
to blame and physically attack unsuspecting members of society without warning and seemingly for no reason at all. We often characterize these acts as
“senseless violence,” but exposing the motives and root causes for what drives these individuals to commit such heinous acts is what is most critical
when it comes to preventing more domestic terroristic acts in the future both in the U.S. and abroad.
Many angry young men intentionally withdraw themselves from society and resort to living most of their lives in their bedrooms on an online chat room
site. These angry young men, who are referred to as “incels,” isolate themselves in a chat room where they openly discuss their misogyny due to not
feeling they are attractive to members of the opposite sex. Incel is short for involuntary celibacy or involuntary celibate, juxtaposed with voluntary
celibacy, which is the choice of being voluntarily unwed and sexually inactive usually for religious reasons. In addition to not feeling attractive to
females, they also develop a deep resentment for authority figures which, in turn, leads to further isolation as they continue to view themselves as
unloved, unwanted and completely rejected by a society that they perceive as utterly contemptuous towards them.
Last month, a 25-year-old Canadian man drove his van up on to the sidewalk of a crowded Toronto street during broad daylight with clear motive and
intent mowed down and killed ten people while injuring more than a dozen others. His rampage went for more than a mile and lasted for several minutes,
before exiting the van and daring police to shoot him in the head. He was ultimately taken into custody without a suicide by cop shooting, but not before
completing one of the worst mass murders in Canadian history.
Just hours before the slaughter, he posted about what he described as an “incel rebellion” on Facebook. The disturbing post read, “Private (Recruit)
Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All
hail the Supreme Gentlemen!” 4chan is an image-based bulletin board used by incels to spread their hatred using such labels as Chads for attractive
males and Stacys for attractive females. Incels view Stacys as being out of their league and are therefore only dateable by the Chads. It is also worth
noting that incels are part of a deeply misogynistic Reddit group, which claims upwards of tens of thousands of members, primarily young men who
condone violence against women.
In 2014, a 23-year, described earlier as the Supreme Gentlemen by the Toronto killer, began his spree killing in Isla Vista, California by stabbing his two
housemates and another man to death before getting behind the wheel of his shiny black BMW coupe and going to Starbucks for a triple vanilla latte.
Afterward, he returned to his vehicle where he uploaded his last YouTube video titled Retribution. He then drove to a sorority house on the University of
California Santa Barbara campus where he continued his murderous rampage by shooting to death six more students prior to taking his own life.
Found in his apartment was a manifesto which read, in part,”
This is it. In one hour I will have my revenge on this cruel
world. I HATE YOU ALLL! DIE.” In his nearly 200-page manifesto
where he chronicles in detail his life and his desire for girls
who did not desire him and ultimately blames them for the
homicidal acts he committed.
These two young men, whose names I intentionally chose not to
use due to their desire and notoriety for 15 minutes of shameful
glory are just a couple of examples among a growing number
who feel that society, mainly females, have wronged them and
will resort to murder in their efforts to exact revenge. Some
problems that are common in these young men are social
isolation, spending hours and hours in their rooms on online
chat sites that validate their misogyny and have no friends that
come to visit. Sometimes, these behaviors can be viewed as
“normal boy behavior,” but may require a little deeper
exploration by a parent or guardian as to what may be causing
the social isolation.
Loneliness and social isolation are at the root cause of many of
our society’s ills and as May has accurately identified, is the
sad reality for modern life for people all over the world. IMHO,
by recognizing and intervening early, we can reduce the cases
of loneliness and social isolation. The reduction will cut down
on the acts of violence that are a direct result of the epidemic.
Feelings of loneliness, sadness, and depression are not
uncommon and are treatable with an early diagnosis. Reaching
young people like the two described earlier and intervening
with effective mental health services would help save lives by
discouraging such hatred and misogyny. From a medical
standpoint, numerous studies show that social isolation also
leads to a greater risk of heart disease, dementia, depression,
and anxiety. It appears that the U.K may be on to something.
Time will tell, but we should seriously consider it here in the U.
S. as well. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by
creating such a post.