Kristen Radtke Considers Another American Epidemic: Loneliness

By Kristen Radtke

I started writing about loneliness by accident. It seems too simple to say I wrote about loneliness because I was often lonely, although I was. It was 2016, during an election cycle that left many of us feeling wrenched from reality, and suddenly I was seeing loneliness everywhere. I’d walk down the street or step onto the subway during my morning commute and find that I couldn’t stop watching people who were physically alone: someone eating a sloppy gyro on the curb while staring blankly into space, an exhausted nurse still in her scrubs nodding off on the bus, the bodega cashier scrolling absently through his phone before a backdrop of condoms and Fritos pinned to the wall. There was nothing verifiably lonely about any of these people, and the fact that I identified loneliness in them said a lot more about me than it did them. I wanted to see their loneliness because I was feeling it myself.

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