LONELINECTED: The Progress of Isolation in a Connected Word

    • Lucca November 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Paco Mejias Villatoro, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China


    We can see it all around us. People gather nowadays in a way where human groups are no longer an opportunity for discussion, common joy, or physical contact. Teenagers’ gangs, lovers’ dinners, or familiar encounters are not longer scenes where one finds real human interaction. The fact is that, on the one hand, we have been reducing alarmingly the possibilities for human contact (with an average of 6% of the population that “never” or “rarely” has contact with other people in their normal daily lives); and on the other hand, we are losing effectiveness in human interaction when we have the opportunity to be involved in social gathering. The usual situation in human gatherings of any scale is the denial of real communication on behalf of virtual interaction that happens between each individual and his/her smartphone. We are getting so used to this situation that it is becoming part of normality, but it is not. Many authors have been registering the exponential increase in people’s isolation , warning us about the consequences of this trend in diminishing people’s resiliency and affecting seriously public mental health . The epidemic proportions of young Japanese self-held as Hikikomoriis–defined as an urgent public health problem in Japan, and extending to other countries –is indicative of the contemporary problematization of social relationships concluding in the inability of interaction and social phobia. The fact that real isolation is happening simultaneously to an exhausting multiplication of virtual human interaction through social networks is, at least, extraordinarily intriguing. This paper tries to analyze the components of this reality and its possible consequences, especially the ones related to the built environment. The connection of this paradoxical phenomenon with other running paradoxes, such as global-local or democracy-autocracy and their problematic readings, will be explored. The paper concludes with a two directional reflection. From one side, the consequences that this situation could have in the built environment, and from the other, the possibilities that architecture and urbanism have for shifting this trend.