To Address The Loneliness Epidemic, The Feds Want To Control Your Town And Friends
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To Address Loneliness, The Feds
Want To Control Your Friends
To Address Loneliness, The Feds
Want To Control Your Friends
The project is potentially so massive in scope that it
threatens to regulate our freedom of association in
By Stella Morabito
9 min. read
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently released an
advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” It
warns that social isolation is a major public health problem.
The 81-page document presents six government-directed
“pillars” of action to address the health hazards of social
On the surface, these six directives may look innocuous, but
they present a clear and present danger to the autonomy of
our private lives and relationships. The project is potentially so
massive in scope that it’s not an overstatement to say it
2. threatens to regulate our freedom of association in ways we
never could have imagined.
Let’s look in greater depth at those pillars and the risks they
‘Building a Social Infrastructure’
The first stated goal is to “strengthen social infrastructure in
local communities.” It defines “social infrastructure” as the
regular events and institutions that make up community life,
and says the federal government should both fund local
organizations and direct how they’re structured, including their
locations. This can only mean that all local communities must
answer to the federal bureaucracy in the quest to strengthen
social connections among people.
Social infrastructure, the report says, includes physical parts of
a community, such as housing, libraries, parks and recreation
spaces, transport systems, and so forth. The report expresses
concern that some people have better access to such
locations than other people, and recommends federal
Those are likely to be used to promote densified housing along
the lines of the “15-minute city” (more accurately termed 15-
minute ghettoes), as well as the eventual dismantling of single-
family housing. The goal of replacing private vehicles with
public transportation fits easily into this scheme too.
I don’t presume that this plan will, by itself, drive wholesale
changes in our physical infrastructure. But it would certainly
3. provide authority and justification for changes supported by
radical environmentalists, all of which diminish our freedoms.
The advisory warns that participation is mandatory if the plan
is to work: “It will take all of us — individuals, families, schools,
and workplaces, health care and public health systems,
technology companies, governments, faith organizations, and
communities — working together…”
The report’s proposed infrastructure to solve the problem of
social isolation seems designed to lock everybody into
compliance with and dependence upon federal mandates.
Local control is then lost.
We end up with a massive federal infrastructure that can
monitor the levels of social connection and disconnection in
every nook and cranny of society. As described in the report,
this would mean every institution, every governmental
department, every volunteer association, every locality, every
church, every faith community, every organization, every club,
every service club, every sports league, and so on, would
likely be assessed and “strengthened” to promote social
‘Enact Pro-Connection Public Policies
According to the second pillar, “Government has a
responsibility to use its authority to monitor and mitigate the
public health harm caused by policies, products, and services
that drive social disconnection.” How will these be tracked and
mitigated? It “requires establishing cross-departmental
4. leadership to develop and oversee an overarching social
connection strategy. Diversity, equity, inclusion, [DEI] and
accessibility are critical components of any such strategy.”
In other words, some people are more socially connected than
others, and that’s not fair. They enjoy benefits — as in “
unearned privileges” — that put others at a disadvantage. So
the government needs to intervene for the sake of equity to
“spread the wealth” of social connections.
DEI is a creature of identity politics, which serves to erase
human individuality and replace it with demographic identity
markers that label people as either oppressors or victims, thus
cultivating more resentments and hostilities in society. By
injecting the codes of DEI into all social relationships, we’re
bound to become even more divided, alienated, and lonely.
And the federal government is bound to become even more
authoritarian and meddlesome in our personal relationships
and social interactions.
‘Mobilize the Health Sector’
Another threat to the private sphere of life comes under the
directive to “mobilize the health sector” by expanding “public
health surveillance and interventions.” This sounds very much
like tracking your social connections and intervening when the
bureaucracy deems it necessary. Big Brother sitting in on your
doctor visits and therapy sessions?
The report indicates that health care workers will be trained to
track cases of what the government views as social
connection and disconnection. As they obediently report to the
5. federal bureaucracy, most individual and local control will be
lost. Medicine is bound to become more federalized and less
private than ever when answering to these mandates.
Consider also that mental health practitioners are already
suggesting that signs of racial or cultural bias should be
classified as a mental illness. Of course, to the promoters of
DEI, all white people are inherently racially biased, simply
because of their skin color. This brings to mind the disturbing
practice in the Soviet Union of consigning political dissenters
to psychiatric treatment. The official line was that you must be
mentally ill if you disagree with communism.
‘Reform Digital Environments’
The advisory recognizes that overuse of the internet and social
media can drive people deeper into social isolation. But it also
promotes centralized government control over technology
development, especially in human interactions: “We must learn
more by requiring data transparency from technology
companies,” it says. So government would decide how to
design and use such technologies. It would very likely compel
technology companies to provide data to the government on
Americans’ social connections.
The advisory also backs the “development of pro-connection
technologies” with the goal of creating “safe” environments
and “safeguarding the well-being of users.” Such phrasing has
been used in recent years to justify censorship under the guise
of protecting certain demographics.
6. In light of the importance of DEI to the overall strategy, this
sounds ominously like a call for further “protection,” i.e.,
government control of the private sphere. Again, the primary
director of all these remedies is the federal bureaucracy, not a
trusted family member, friend, pastor, or neighbor.
‘Deepening Our Knowledge’
The fifth pillar of the advisory pushes a “research agenda” that
enlists all “stakeholders” — that means every level of
government, every organization, every corporation, every
school, every family, every individual — to deepen their
knowledge about social connection and disconnection. Of
course, the advisory has already predetermined the outcome
of much of this research, and we can be reasonably confident
this research will reflect the outlook offered by the advisory.
After all, that’s how researchers get grants and research
I imagine institutions will publicize their “studies” through a
media monopoly that promotes the preferred narrative on what
kinds of relationships we should have, what we can and can’t
talk about. Essentially, we’ll get a flood of government
propaganda about their preferences for human relationships.
In the context of today’s censorship regime, this means
promoting a single narrative that will drown any competing
views offered by critics and the public with the favored views of
government and corporate interests, parroted endlessly by Big
‘Cultivate a Culture of Social Connection’
7. Finally, the advisory advocates for cultivating “a culture of
connection,” one based on “kindness, respect, service, and
commitment to one another.” This sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, our government’s relentless push for woke
policies tells us that we cannot expect to understand those
terms as traditional virtues.
Rather, such terms will likely be used in woke Orwellian
fashion, to direct our social interactions and behaviors. For
example, not dating a transgender person is now labeled
unkind and “transphobic.” “Gender affirming care” — i.e.,
castration and mutilation of children — is the only “respectful”
way of treating gender dysphoria. Your “responsibility” is to
comply without question.
The advisory also calls for the media and the arts to promote
stories that encourage “connection,” most likely in the
Orwellian sense that wokeness demands. Further, the report
cautions that certain kinds of social connection are harmful for
individuals and society. It warns that too much like-
mindedness can lead to extremism and violence.
We should be very skeptical of the federal government’s role
in deciding which groups it deems acceptable, given its
growing politicization of law enforcement, its attempts to
silence concerned parents at school board meetings by
labeling them “domestic terrorists,” and its overall undermining
of due process and the Bill of Rights.
The Historical Pattern of Big Government Is
Atomization, Not Social Connection
8. Ironies abound in this advisory. The pretext for government
injecting itself into our personal lives is to rescue us from the
misery of our loneliness epidemic. Never mind that
government policies are largely to blame for family breakdown,
welfare dependency, urban blight, attacks on free speech,
attacks on privacy, and countless other developments that
result in an acute sense of isolation and polarization.
Never mind that the proven prescription for loneliness is the
opposite: a private sphere of life where intact families raise
their children with a sense of virtue; where institutions of faith
give people a sense of order and purpose in life; and where
friends can confide in one another without meddlers
eavesdropping on their conversations. This sphere of life —
the private sphere — is the fount of freedom, love, and trust
that nurtures social connections. It can only thrive in privacy.
But this private sphere seems to be in the crosshairs of
Murthy’s massive government project to “fix” the social
connections of all Americans. The government will doubtless
enlist a media monopoly and Big Tech for support in
monitoring those connections.
Given the current direction of this administration’s policies, it
will also deploy heavy-handed political censorship — of which
Murthy already proved a huge fan during Covid — to enforce
compliance and punish dissent. Such censorship heightens
the fear of speaking openly, which only builds more walls
between people. Ironically, we would end up more atomized
The Tentacles of Bureaucracy
9. This may sound over the top to a general reader who may find
the advisory benign and even welcoming, and perhaps just a
narrowly focused plan to address a recognized health issue.
I am very skeptical about that for two reasons. The first is the
natural inclinations of bureaucracies populated by “experts.”
Bureaucracies never shrink. They continuously bloat. That’s
the nature of the beast. Their protectors keep pushing their
relevance on some issue or problem. Their experts — who will
always “know better” than anyone else — will present
solutions to be deployed by the bureaucracy. Compliance will
then be demanded. And the bureaucracy will continue to bloat
until its tentacles strangle every area of life.
The second reason for skepticism is history, which is filled with
examples of governments invading the private sphere of life,
specifically the institutions of family, faith, and community.
That private sphere is still the most decentralized area of life,
the one in which individuals are most able to think and speak
freely, unless the government invades. Communist China, the
Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany are prime examples in the
20th century of government invading the private sphere.
Eminent sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote about the deep-
seated tendency of governments to hijack the functions of the
mediating institutions of family, faith, and community. When
the government takes over those functions, we lose those
institutions as buffer zones between the isolated individual and
the all-powerful state. We become powerless in the resulting
10. Nisbet posed this rhetorical question: “What remains then, but
to rescue the masses from their loneliness, their
hopelessness, and despair, by leading them into the promised
land of the absolute, redemptive State?”
I believe the surgeon general’s advisory vindicates Nisbet’s
point. Indeed, the state creates the malady and then offers its
authority as the only cure as it rushes into the vacuum. The
strategy for doing so seems evident in the report’s “six pillars.”
Where Does It All End?
No one can say for sure where this “Ministry of Loneliness”
proposal will end up. History — particularly recent history —
has warned us about such projects. The goals of this advisory
may seem unobjectionable, but the concern is about who
decides how we connect socially.
When the “who” is the federal government, we should
remember that the pattern of the mass state is always to
induce loyalty to the mass state. That pattern always comes
with a push to surrender our loyalty to one another as
individual human beings capable of real kindness and real
love. That amounts to something I call the weaponization of
We must insist on making our own decisions to live as free
individuals. That means pushing back in any way possible
against potential intrusions in the private sphere of life. It
means rejecting the pseudo-intimacy and pseudo-connection
that our federal government seems intent on foisting upon us
in exchange for control of our private lives and relationships.
11. Otherwise, we end up in much worse isolation that renders us
powerless and unfree.
Stella Morabito is a senior contributor at The Federalist. She is
author of "The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants
Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer."
Her essays have appeared in various publications, including
the Washington Examiner, American Greatness, Townhall,
Public Discourse, and The Human Life Review. In her previous
work as an intelligence analyst, Morabito focused on various
aspects of Russian and Soviet politics, including communist
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