Oftentimes, loneliness is assigned to people who enter a new place alone, but remaining in a place that’s constantly changing can bring about loneliness of a different variety. How so?Diverse cities are such a balm for the lonely. Homogenous places can be extremely isolating, particularly if you feel like you don’t belong. The way that gentrification pushes cities towards homogeneity—driving out the poor, disabled and homeless, making cities ever whiter and shinier and cleaner, turning them into refuges for the rich—is a very worrying trend. Cosmopolitanism is a great gift, and something we must strive to preserve.You write that “fear of contact is the real malaise of our age.” How does that fear manifest in cities?I was especially interested in the clean-up act of gentrification. The loss of public spaces where people from different classes and backgrounds can mix and things like so-called poor doors are driven by a terror of contact with different people. In the end, that fear of contact impoverishes us all, and makes us all more lonely. It can and must be resisted.
In ‘The Lonely City,’ Olivia Laing Turns Her Experience of Isolation Into an Investigation of Visual Art – CityLab