In the article “Hello stranger” (G2, 6 January), Bethan Harris of the Loneliness Lab suggests finding ways to “design loneliness out of cities”. I have a better idea – don’t design it in in the first place. Every organisation that tries to bully us into “communicating” with machines rather than people when going about our daily life is to blame for the increasing automisation and alienation (and loneliness) we find all around us. The fact that this pressure is from public, as well as private, bodies is a scandal.
We should all live as human beings – our evolution has depended on us being a social species – not as mere adjuncts of machines. I have, for example, never taken money from my bank account using an ATM; never used an automated till in a shop; and never returned a library book other than to a person. And nor will I.
To those who tell me every increase in automation is an increase – by some measure – in “efficiency”, my answer is: Efficiency to what end? Towards the goal of a perfectly “efficient” world where we have no need to encounter another person face-to-face? Our mundane daily interactions with one another are a core (and humanising) part of our life and our civilisation.
King’s Cross, London
• Daniel Lavelle’s feature on meeting a new person to talk to each day has warmed my heart. As a fellow lonely person, I find much in common with his predicament of being lonely in a city. I recommend that he and other readers check out local environmental or community groups. During a time of my life when I was struggling to find work I was involved in a community garden and made friends with people from backgrounds unlike my own. It helped to be structured around an activity that is inclusive and not especially ability based.
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