The dangers of freedom & the threats of community

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The pandemic brought out a key contradiction at the heart of human nature. Different living arrangements meant that those stuck on their own during lockdowns felt a profound sense of isolation, while those who were living with family lost any sense of personal space and independence. Neither arrangement was ideal – humans, it turns out, crave independence and community in equal measure. Modern life has meant many of us inhabiting big cities are increasingly living away from our families and the communities we might have grown up in. Some see this as a sign of liberation – a conscious, free choice many of us have made, rejecting a more traditional lifestyle that involves intergenerational cohabitation, or at the very least living and working in the town we grew up in. At the same time, mental health practitioners are documenting an increase in phenomena like anxiety and depression, and the suggestion is that this might be linked to a sense of social isolation. So, what …

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