Noreena Hertz: "Social media is the tobacco industry of the 21st century"

Even before "social distancing", people were becoming more and more distant from each other, says Noreena Hertz. The British economist and thought leader warns of a lonesome society and talked about it at the GDI Trend Day on 10 March 2021.
9 December, 2020 by
Noreena Hertz: «Social Media ist die Tabakindustrie des 21. Jahrhunderts»
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

It all started with students visiting Professor Noreena Hertz and complaining about problems with loneliness. At about the same time, a study showed that 60 percent of the British population felt lonely. And a renowned university in the U.S. introduced courses called "How to read a face in real life".

Noreena Hertz, one of the world's leading thinkers according to the British newspaper "The Observer", identified one of the main social problems of our century: we are becoming increasingly lonely. Neoliberal capitalism and social media are to blame, she is convinced. "All around us, the fabric of community is unravelling and our personal relationships are under threat," warns Noreena Hertz in her book "The Lonely Century." This, she says, is against our nature. "We are hard-wired to connect. We are creatures of togetherness." If we feel lonely, our bodies react with increased blood pressure and stress, she says. Loneliness is as bad for our health as 15 cigarettes a day. "Social media is the tobacco industry of the 21st century."

Micro-contacts such as saying "hello" at the supermarket checkout, could help combat loneliness, explains Noreena Hertz. But governments need to tackle the problem more actively.

How exactly, Noreena Hertz explains in a video and at the 17th European Trend Day at the GDI on 10 March 2021 .

Future Meetups: How We'll Get Together From Now On

Infographic: Meeting places of the future (part 1)

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted our social lives. Any close contact is potentially dangerous. But what are the alternatives? New opportunities for meet-ups are emerging that are safe and cost little. A GDI infographic shows how we will meet in the future. The future of meet-ups was also the central topic at the GDI Trend Day on 10 March 2021.

Sarah Kenderdine: "We hope this will change the nature of museum-going forever"

Museums, theatres, concert halls: wherever people came together to enjoy culture, there is now a yawning emptiness. How can museum-going be revolutionised? Sarah Kenderdine, a professor at EPFL Lausanne, provides the tools for innovation.

"Covid-19 shows the immense need for public space"

"During lockdown, when people were actually missing public spaces, they still chose not to use the traditional retail spaces. Because they’re not considered to be high quality public spaces anymore," says Kristian Villadsen, partner at urban strategy firm Gehl, in an interview.

Share this post