By Inga Buchbinder, Jul 22, 2009 12:13 PM
It was brought up in our Editorial meeting this week that the Ethnic Elders beat might want to consider doing a profile on the "loneliest people."
This term should be considered very loosely. The New Oxford American Dictionary definition of lonely is:
adjective ( -lier , -liest )
sad because one has no friends or company : lonely old people whose families do not care for them.
• without companions; solitary : passing long lonely hours looking onto the street.
• (of a place) unfrequented and remote : a lonely stretch of country lane.
loneliness |ˈloʊnlin1s| noun
Another topic that seemed to stem from loneliness was about how America is about the youth; that our society is obsessed with the look of youth and that once one reaches a certain age they are no longer considered socially "acceptable."
On behalf of the (older) youth of America, I disagree. I think that the generational gaps pose a significant problem in allowing one generation to relate to another, but I don't think that the youth of America avoids our elder counterparts. On the contrary, many cultures have the eldest member of their family living with them, and not always because they need to be taken care of. Often they are just a natural part of the family. Many of my friends had their grandparents (one or both) living with them as they grew up.
The discussion on the loneliest people seemed to implicate that the loneliest people were the elders of our society, who are forgotten and dismissed. I think that, in a time of economic trouble, we forget those who have lost their jobs and direction and aren't sure where their next step it.
I'm talking about the Baby Boomer generation. Many are not quite old enough to get into movies at a Senior rate, but they are not old enough to bounce back into a failing job market either. Baby Boomers across the country have lost their jobs and are struggling to get their lives back together. Of course, some situations are better or worse off than others.
I can't imagine how lonely it must feel to lose a job in an industry that you've put 25 plus years into and to disengage from a life that was devoted to working. At first it must seem like a dream come true! All this newfound time to do the things you've always wanted to do, but there was just never enough time during the weekend. Gardening, taking care of the house, small projects, enjoying the daylight!
But after some time, the luster of all this time wears off, and the generation that has devoted the most time to working suddenly doesn't know what to do with all the free time. I think this is the loneliest person. It's not just one person, but a portion of the 9.5% (and rising) unemployed Americans.
I know one such lonely person, and I've watched the phases of feeling freed from the shackles of work, the diligent tasks picked up to replace the time and then the slow descent into the primal need to fill the void with a job.
During this New Depression, I'm sure there are many similar stories. This is just one.