One malady of our present society is acute loneliness. Apparently over 50% of the population around the world now live in urban environments, so we are closer together, yet farther apart! One contributing factor is the internet which absorbs many hours, usually spent alone, as well as video games. Then there is the ipad, the iphone, the blackberry and all the other communication devices which demand our constant, and usually, our instant attention.

I saw one couple come into a restaurant, were shown to their table and they ate their meal in silence as both had their own devices with which they were reading messages, sending messages or checking other information. I wondered if they would ever remember the meal they had together.

Another long term cause of loneliness and the feeling of disconnect has come about from the demands of careers and employment. It is now more convenient, and necessary, to move away from home and move to the big city. Consequently the sense of belonging has disappeared. Family ties have been broken or weakened. People rarely stay in their family clusters any more. One writer said that families are now scattered like confetti and loneliness is the result. People no longer identify with their roots.

 Loneliness is the cause of some suicides. It is emotionally damaging. It takes people down some very nasty roads as they search to counteract the terrible sense of abandonment. For them, real love and affection is missing.

 It is estimated that 72% of the population belong to a small group of some kind. The purpose of the group can be recreational. It can be addiction related, specific illness or disease related. It might be an investment club, a coin collectors club or a book club. However, many belong to these groups more for the social aspect than the stated reason for the group. We are social creatures and we need one another. Hence we are back to the importance of real friendships.

 I reiterate. Cultivate friendships. Invest time and effort into them. The dividends are enormous and long lasting. You won’t have time to be lonely. The love and support from real friends is invaluable but it is not until you need them that you realize just how invaluable they are.