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for the Hoover Institution, in the late ’40s, the United States was home to 2,500 clinicalpsychologists, 30,000 social workers, and fewer than 500 marriage and family therapists. As of2010, the country had 77,000 clinical psychologists, 192,000 clinical social workers, 400,000nonclinical social workers, 50,000 marriage and family therapists, 105,000 mental-healthcounselors, 220,000 substance-abuse counselors, 17,000 nurse psychotherapists, and 30,000 lifecoaches.We need professional carers more and more, because the threat of societal breakdown, onceprincipally a matter of nostalgic lament, has morphed into an issue of public health. Being lonelyis extremely bad for your health. If you’re lonely, you’re more likely to be put in a geriatric homeat an earlier age than a similar person who isn’t lonely. You’re less likely to exercise. You aremore likely to be depressed, to sleep badly, and to suffer dementia. And yet, despite its deleterious effect on health, loneliness is one of the first things ordinaryAmericans spend their money achieving. With money, you flee the cramped city to a house in thesuburbs or, if you can afford it, a McMansion in the exurbs, inevitably spending more time inyour car. The real danger with Facebook is not that it allows us to isolate ourselves, but that by mixing ourappetite for isolation with our vanity, it threatens to alter the very nature of solitude. What’s trulystaggering about Facebook usage is the constancy of the performance it demands. More than half3
its users—and one of every 13 people on Earth is a Facebook user—log on every day. Among18-to-34-year-olds, nearly half check Facebook minutes after waking up, and 28 percent do sobefore getting out of bed. Facebook never takes a break. We never take a break.4