Alone (aka levadi*)

You could have called yesterday’s blog something along the lines of… Long-lie – the consequences of loneliness.

There was some discussion on Facebook as to whether this was a societal or technological problem, or, both.

People have been writing about social isolation for centuries.

I think back to The Count of Monte Christo, where Villefort – Valentine’s  grandfather, is unable to communicate after a stroke, other than through blinking. A literary predecessor of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Trapped.

Isolated.

Many blogs ago I wrote about Alexander Trocchi (the Glaswegian Beatnik) and his description of the human condition.

It seems that we are moving more and more towards this existential isolationism.

Last night, I watched the Oasis documentary, Supersonic. It was a great re-living of the 90’s. Some of which I could remember.

In the film, they highlight the concert at Knebworth in 1996 with 250,000 people in a field singing along to Champagne Supernova.

This was before internet dominance and the iPhone, before we considered technological solutions to everything – how to prevent a long-lie… wear an accelerometer. How to stay in touch… Skype, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook.

This was even more meaningful to me as I watched an iPlayer documentary before the Oasis film, about schools and schooling in Scotland since the 1500s when John Knox led the Reformation and his Book of Common Order outlined the beginnings of standardised education.

The point isn’t about Mr Knox or Liam or Noel, but about the changes in society that have led us to where we are today.

In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s there was so much more playing in the street, engaging with neighbours, society; I guess – there is likely to be a component of nostalgia in this, but predominantly, the explosion in single-person households, in people living alone, not talking to another soul for days on end, to the extent which this happens in 2017 is unique.

This metamorphosis in our ways of living also threatens the fabric of the health and social care system.

The solution today to an older person who has fallen and is socially isolated is to send them to a care home. There they will be looked-after; there they will have company. People to keep them safe, feed them, ensure clean clothes and cups of tea.

Some care homes are fantastic and indeed can be a solution to the very lonely.

The numbers of older people within this model who will require care in the next 20 years are however, too great for this system to ever manage.

Today, care homes are closing because of staffing and funding challenges. We undervalue this work as we undervalue the role of all people involved in health and social care; the government has over the past five years devastated social care – cut upon cut. What do we value?

Our phones, the internet, Amazon Prime?

Back to living alone.

Today, more of us live in single person households than at any time. You might struggle to get-on with your family, but, at least they are someone to talk to. At least they are someone to determine if you are down or dejected or poorly.

I do not see any systemic solutions to these changes; sleep-walking we shuffle towards the future.

I mentioned B:Friend yesterday; I have seen recent posts on Facebook showing care homes that are providing accommodation for students, where older people are welcomed back into society and their value appreciated. Young children spend hours in the company of people in their 80s and 90s.

Like the environment, let us not place all our eggs in one basket.

Most, at least those in the West who are gas-guzzling and landfill-filling either choose not to think about the planet, or, if they do, prefer to assume that a technological solution will be found to the bleaching of the coral or the poisoning of our oceans and atmosphere.

If we follow this path, assuming tech will save us; provide us with live-in robots, computers of wheels, electronic cats and dogs, we will have missed the point.

We still have a way to go.

*Levadi

knebworth

 

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