Does city life make us more or less lonely? Share your stories


+ info: Guardian Cities


Cities are places where people come together, hubs of culture and trade – it would seem that if anything, a metropolis is the antidote to loneliness. And yet, in a context where anxiety and depression rates are higher in urban rather than rural settings, the reality may be anything but.

“You can be lonely anywhere,” writes Olivia Laing in her new book The Lonely City, “but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people.” Laing’s book explores her own experience of solitude in New York, and how she tackled the issue through art.

Cities can be overwhelming places, full of anonymous strangers. In 1903, the German philosopher Georg Simmel described the social tendency that “one nowhere feels as lonely and lost as in the metropolitan crowd”. A 2013 survey by ComRes found that 52% of Londoners feel lonely, making it the loneliest place in the UK. Last year, charity network Acevo set up The Loneliness Project to tackle social isolation among young people in the capital.