It is unbelievable that in today's world we could even hear someone talk about "alternative facts," let alone from the Oval office. Most sane people know that the facts are just that, things that are truisms on an issue that is being debated or discussed. Facts then, should guide a thoughtful and forward thinking society to address or make progress on things that affect us and are important.
I was taken aback recently when I read some facts on social isolation, an issue that I care about in the work we do at our organization, CLASS (www,classcommunity.org). One of these facts was reported late last year in the NY Times that since 1980's the percentage of American adults who say they are lonely doubled from 20% in 1985 to 40% of people in 2015. This increase in loneliness is incredibly troubling in a time when we have so many outlets to develop and nurture our relationships.
The second fact, however is even more intense as we now have a better understanding of what loneliness actually does. Research has shown that isolated people have an increase in: disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune system, higher stress hormones, increased heart disease by 29%, stroke increases by 32%, and a 30% higher risk of dying within a 7 year window.
We know that social isolation is bad for us, and no altered facts can change this phenomena. To this end, a civil and compassionate society must not just realize these facts, but to do something about it. Social isolation is worse than smoking and it is time for some national actions designed to address this public health risk.