If you are lonely and depressed, you pay for a session with a psychologist.
If you are single, severely lonely and depressed, you pay for Prozac.
If you are sick and bed-ridden, you pay for a door-to-door laundry service.
If you want companions, you pay for Fitness First membership.
If your car won’t start in the morning and you have to move, you pay a cab driver to ferry you.
Actually, all you need is to call a friend, or sometimes, your neighbour.
The modern culture encloses us in a fast-paced lifestyle that disconnects us from meaningful human relationships.
Robert Putnam made a few sharp observations in his book titled Bowling Alone:
- From 1980 to 1993, participation in bowling (in America) was up 10%, but the number of bowling leagues decreased 40%, as more people bowled alone.
- In the past 25 years, fast-food outlets has increased 100%, while full-service restaurants decreased 25%. More people are eating alone or eating take-aways in their cars.
- From 1992 to 1999, the amount of time spent caring for a pet increased 15%.
Putnam’s study concluded that for America, people are increasingly detached from human interaction. Money and energy are channeled into technology and gadgets, pets, beauty care and self-entertainment. More and more people are spending lonely nights at home with take-away food and their well-groomed pets, watching reality TV (amazing race? survivor?) or sitcoms (Desperate housewives? Lost?) which ironically built their popularity for tackling the subject of human relationships.
I hope this pervading American culture won’t invade our communities and eradicate our mamak stalls. That will be so sad.
Go hug someone today.