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Kon'nichiwa lovely friends, I hope you're well. At the weekend I lost three inches of hair and an inch of beard, once again aiming for Michael Hutchence and arriving at Barry Gibb.

Since my last email I've flown to Tokyo. The scale of a city of 38 million people forces a little adjustment on the part of its visitors. It has me thinking about how we live, together and alone. But, just between us, I came here for the pizza.

LONELINESS: Particularly in a metropolis, modern life may be making us lonely. I find this interesting both because of the possible impact on our health, and because the mass adoption of social technologies appears to be contributing. As population rises and more of us move to urban environments, and as digital adoption broadens, it seems that loneliness and isolation will increase. Therein lies a problem.

As one dramatic headline puts it, social isolation is killing us. It may be time to think seriously about how we tackle it en masse, like other pressures of urban living such as sanitation or transportation. One might assume that social media goes some of the way but, while social media may reduce loneliness, it may also increase social isolation as well as other mental health issues. That's why the distinction between loneliness and isolation is important.

The ill-effects of social media hit the youngest first. When polled, one in five people under forty claimed to have no friends, compared with one in ten a generation up. Specifically, social media mimics community while pushing us further away from each other. Although they're touted as friendly places, and use the vernacular of friendship, instead they make people miserable. And the worse it gets, the harder it is to reach out for help.

We're not good at talking about depression, loneliness or even unhappiness; the whole lot is riddled with age-old taboos. Death is also a common taboo, but thinking about death might be a good indication of isolation. So these things are worth talking about, if only because not to do so is bad for us. Indeed, treating loneliness like a medical condition shows demonstrable benefits including keeping us out of hospital.🤝
📥 Is Anyone Going to Get Rich off of Email Newsletters? The venture capitalists are sniffing about, sensing the latest fissure leading to the future of media. I think I can guarantee nobody will get rich off newsletters, although a handful of newsletter-authors will get rich.

😱 How We Came to Live in “Cursed” Times: On the Internet, whereas the phrase “cursed energy” once referred to creepy images, it has come to signify generalised feelings of anxiety and malaise.

🔪 The Millennial Question: often blamed for killing everything from napkins to marriage to Applebees, you'd be forgiven for thinking the millennial generation has waged a decade-long rampage. But fortunately the ever-brilliant Pudding goes behind the headlines to look at how popular media reports on millennials more broadly.

🔬 The six best science books of 2019: a charge led by Caroline Criado Perez's Invisible Women which, according to the Royal Society, "shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population".

💊 Is ‘tech addiction’ really akin to drug addiction? Andrew Przybylski, a professor of experimental psychology at the Oxford Internet Institute, examines technology addiction and argues that, unlike research on addictions to gambling, drugs or alcohol, the research is inconclusive.
A little help from my friends: An effective antidote to social isolation is friendship. Not the Silicon Valley definition; the good, old-fashioned kind. In the book The Friendship Cure, Kate Leaver argues that social integration and close relationships are the most important predictors of mortality, well above alcohol consumption, exercise and diet.

The ability to form close relationships outside of our own family is a crucial evolutionary component of our existence, yet we now place ourselves in situations at odds with this. Not just dense urban sprawl but also online, where we spread our friendship attention too thinly as opposed to investing in a tighter cluster of close relationships.

What would a friendship regimen look like? There have been many studies into human capacity for friendship; all that science reminds us that you make friendships out of acquaintances. So maybe the first step is habitually to talk to strangers. 👋
Finally: The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s is a pretty good effort from Pitchfork. Interesting to compare with the music of “Hustlers” and the mood of 2008. 🎧

Uwa ̄, it's the bottom of the email. More good stuff next week. Know someone who likes interesting things? And whose dreary inbox would benefit from an injection of interestingness? Of course you do! They can join in at momorgan.com/blast. 💌

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💥BLAST! · c/o relating.to ltd. · 160 City Road · London, EC1V 2NX · United Kingdom. Please don't burgle my flat. The catsitter is a wide-eyed, bloodthirsty lunatic.

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