- George Monbiot discusses the importance of recognizing our social connections in making our political choices, rather than treating the world as merely a collection of unconnected individuals:
It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.- Meanwhile, Meghan Joy and John Shields discuss the folly of putting programs in the hands of the corporate sector through social impact bonds which prioritize single contractual metrics over broad social outcomes. And Murray Dobbin criticizes corporate control over hospital food as a prime example of necessities being turned into cash cows, with no benefit for either the public purse or the people being served.
It’s unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It’s more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.
Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity?
Anyone can see that something far more important than most of the issues we fret about has gone wrong. So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain? Should this question not burn the lips of everyone in public life?
- Jim Stanford points out that implausible denials of the downside of corporate globalization will only strengthen the rise of divisive and destructive alternatives. Paul Waldie reports that two of Belgium's regions may put the ratification of the CETA on hold indefinitely. And Rob Ferguson highlights one of the reasons that's for the best, as the largest award ever under NAFTA has just been ordered due to Ontario's change in renewable energy policy.
- Finally, Sam Levin reports that multiple social media sites handed over access to user data to a private security firm to track individual Black Lives Matter protesters.