Response to ‘Young More Lonely Than the Old’

Murphy, C. (2010). “Young More Lonely Than The Old,” BBC News. Retrieved on 2010/05/25.

Summary: Clare Murphy suggests the young tend to feel lonelier than the old in the UK. What does the article mean by ‘lonely,’ and what are the factors that contribute to Britain’s youth to feel such an emotion?

England’s elderly and youth feel two different types of loneliness. Elderly loneliness derives from the isolation caused by the decomposition of the nuclear family, as well as long life expectancy. Youth loneliness is caused by modern day living. Today, more focus is placed on careers rather than on the public community. Thus, individuals exert more energy into their work than into building community ties. Social network sites, a technology invention of the youth’s era, incredibly connect hundreds and thousands of people across the globe. Communication through these sites, however, does not produce the same satisfaction of face to face interaction. Thus, one may find they have a plethora of friends on their social network site, but very few that they can have a person to person contact with. Lastly, urban planning greatly affects how social is a community. The urban planning of London encourages a far lesser amount of public socializing than does New York. According to the article, 50% of Manhattan’s habitants live alone, but the city is the most social because its urban planning encourages public gathering.

The information provided in the article is beneficial to planning urban spaces. Yet, it must be acknowledged that the article focuses on urban youth professionals. Therefore, changes in urban planning based on the article will be beneficial to creating a more social youth, but may not be beneficial to families and to the elderly.

Conceptual Design: For urban planning, the conceptual design has to encourage public socializing amongst the youth. The public space has to compete against career pressure and social networks. Thus it has to be easy to access, aesthetically charming and pretty, and encourage the youth to spend time away from the office, the apartment, and the computer desk.

Interaction Design: The article suggests that village like atmospheres bring people together. Such an atmosphere can be accomplished through public places, such as gardens and cafes, that encourage the youth to spend time away from the office and from their apartments. Paris, for example, creates a village like atmosphere because cafes persuade employees to eat lunch outside and/or to meet for after work drinks, and the parks promote group activities such as tennis and bocce ball. Low rise buildings, such as the ones found in Paris and the East and West Village of New York, also encourage a village like atmosphere. Trees and shrubbery create softer and aesthetic urban public spaces, and thus also encourage social interaction.

Interface Design: London discourages public socializing because the city is vastly spread out, and many residential areas resemble private gated communities. London is also a very old city that has been enlarged and modernized in an incoherent manner. Therefore, it is not easy to move from one area to another. Thus, Londoners not only stay within their work and residential neighborhoods, they are also not accustomed to socializing in public spaces and prefer to stay within close networks. A smaller and more accessible urban environment encourages public socializing. Manhattan, for example, is a compact city that is easy to navigate because of its grid planning. Thus, it is easy for city dwellers to find their way through the city and they do not have to travel great distances to meet peers.

  1 comment for “Response to ‘Young More Lonely Than the Old’

  1. June 29, 2010 at 5:34 am

    Conceptual Design: What does the product suppose to do? So what are we looking from our urban planning? Is it about ease of commute? Is it about more social interaction? Community? Ease of food/services delivery? What is it that we’re trying to accomplish when we plan a city? Beauty?

    Interaction Design: How does the product do what we want it to do? So once we know why we are planning the way we plan, how do we accomplish what we want? High-rises? Dense development? The burbs?

    Interface Design: This is about how the product looks and feels to its users. Each city as a feel. NY is not the same as London which is not the same as SF which is completely different from DC. Geography and weather have an impact, but so does design. Most city have been around for long time and might have lost the sense of a plan. St. Petersburg in Russia was a planned city, SF after the 1906 earthquake had plans. But some cities just grow organically…

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