Rooting Out Weak Connections
Work and the Loneliness Epidemic by Vivek H. Murthy
Harvard Business Review, September 1, 2017
In this Harvard Business Review cover story, Vivek Murthy, a former US Surgeon General, makes the case for loneliness as a public health epidemic on par with obesity and cigarette smoking. He describes loneliness as weak social connections and explores current statistics on loneliness (40% of adults report feeling isolated) as well as the causes of the apparent acceleration of this feeling (increased mobility and the rapidly changing way that we think about work and family). Murthy concludes by suggesting that businesses have both a social responsibility and an economic incentive to encourage more meaningful connections in the workplace. While not explicitly addressing the role of schools in fostering community, the article does provide educators an interesting perspective on why we may wish to equip our students with the social and emotional tools needed to form deeper connections with their peers and communities. Such programs have long been “value added” components of an independent school education and this article, and the discussion it has sparked, provide a compelling argument for why learning such “soft skills” is important.