Can we be lonely in big cities and is loneliness a problem in Brussels? Brussels is the capital city, in some ways considered a big city but also maybe not that big in comparison to Paris, New York or Tokyo. No matter how large, cities can also be a place where many parts of population feel lonely. This happens for variety of reasons and people from all walks of life have moments (or longer periods) when they face with loneliness.
We were inspired by the Dutch organziation Pakhuis De Zwijger who recently organized a projection of a documentary named ‘The Age of Loneliness’. The award-winning filmmaker Sue Bourne believes loneliness has to be talked about. It affects so many of us in so many different ways and at so many different stages of our lives. So she went out to find people brave enough to go on camera and talk about their loneliness.
Sometimes, when walking on the streets of Brussels (or any other city), we can notice how people feel alienated from each other – younger ones are mostly staring on their phones, trying to feel ‘connected’ while they actually feel lonely. But this is still a ‘softer’ version of loneliness because the real problem happens when a person feels isolated for the longer periods of time and could (as a result) face with a depression or other psychological issues. Loneliness hits everyone, both younger and older people but it seems that senior population is particularly hit with this issue. The amount of elderly people is rising and is changing our societies. The contemporary, most often negative stereotyping of these elderly people is, however, no longer appropriate.
Inspired by the movie and the event which as held in Pakhuis de Zwijger, we ask ourselves if Brussels needs more initiatives which remove the divide between younger and older people and give stage to a more realistic, inspirational and activating image of what ageing really means. Another great example that could be applied in Brussels comes from The Netherlands – students and retired people are offered a chance to be ‘roommates’ and learn, inspire and help each other along the way. This seems to be a good example of not just enhancing the quality of life for this part of the population but also preventing a large group of people to ‘fall’ into loneliness. Here is an interesting video about Patrick, a 27-year-old student and Harry, an 89-year-old retiree.
We also share with you below the ‘Age of Loneliness’ movie trailer and a description from De Zwijger website:
It is important that we, especially now, look after each other more and bridge the gap between young and old.
About the documentary
The Age of Loneliness has people of all ages in it, from Isobel the 19-year-old student to Olive the feisty 100-year-old, Ben the divorcee, Jaye the 40-year-old singleton, Richard the 72-year-old internet-dating widower, to Martin, Iain and Christine talking about their mental health problems. Everyone talks with such remarkable honesty and bravery that you can’t help but be touched by their stories.