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Discussion

A Conversation with Noreena Hetz

​In his address to the nation under lockdown last April, king William Alexander of the Netherlands mentioned the ‘loneliness virus’ as a major cause of concern. And if there’s one thing we have learned over the past few months, it’s that many of us are very able to be simultaneously hyper-connected and lonelier than ever.

Here to diagnose this strange conundrum with us is sharp-witted British economist Noreena Hertz. In what way exactly do political, economic and technological forces globally influence our most private, individual emotions?

Tackling the loneliness crisis from a global perspective, Hertz illustrates in The Lonely Century how processes of digitalization and globalisation have managed to break down meaningful connections with the world around us. What are we losing exactly and is this erosion of community accelerating under various degrees of lockdown? If so, what dangers does this collective loneliness pose to the future of democracy in Europe?

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