” Loneliness is the ultimate poverty “- Abigail Van Buren, advice columnist
Across the world the family unit is changing. The nuclear family is disappearing. In it’s place, we are seeing various family blends emerge. Indeed, the traditional family unit is becoming less traditional. However, the key trend isn’t families at all, but people living by themselves.
In a supermarket, nobody can hear you scream: ‘ I’m all alone ‘. Indeed, for now, the world is still largely prepackaged for couples and families. Steaks and burger patties come in packs of two and four, restaurant tables are meant for two, four, six or eight and cars are made for two, three, four, five or more.Of course, there are some advantages to living alone. The dustbins don’t fill up that fast and there is enough water for a bath. But is living alone healthy for the planet? In the future, people who live alone might have to pay higher taxes, because doing so means more housing, household appliances and cars. Or, in an increasingly ‘ Uberised ‘ world, will they find new ways of sharing resources through collaborative consumption?
Some notable examples that is defining this trend, in a timeline:
2016: Walmart discontinues ‘ family packs ‘ in the USA
2017: Banks offer 100 year cross generational mortgages
2018: 60% of 30 year olds still living at home
2019: Social networks start to establish physical communities
2024: Social robots in 30% of single-person households
2026: People living alone own 90% of all pets in China
For many, singledom is the preferred state. But, what does it say about a society when we can’t be bothered to engage meaningfully with another person? Is it a sign of narcissism, laziness, perfectionism, individualism or simply people do not have the time to invest in a career and a relationship? Perhaps digitilization and virtualization have removed the need for physical presence.
Is it only me who is thinking like this or do I have company?