Alone Together

Apostrophe Podcast Network

A life of solitude was imposed on millions of us during the pandemic due to the coronavirus. Being alone is a life chosen deliberately by some; others are just alone, not by choice. We can end up unexpectedly alone and for many, the twists and turns of life, brought us to where we are. Experts and researchers around the world share their insights about what we know about loneliness, we find meaning of it from songs, art, books, films, history and pop culture. We isolate the lessons of loneliness from people like you and people like me who have unique stories to tell and to share. Everyone feels lonely at times. But let’s begin to explore why. My name is Peg Fong, I’m a journalist and an educator who has been fascinated by what loneliness means. We’re not here to solve loneliness. But to add one voice to another so that we are alone together.

Introducing Alone Together: A Curious Exploration of Loneliness
Trailer 1 min 59 sec

All Episodes

When you’re on the road, the world is suddenly rich with possibility. The act of leaving, wrote Jack Kerouac in the stream of consciousness that would become his book On the Road, is surprisingly easy. With this publication in 1956, Kerouac found himself torchbearer of the ‘Beat’ generation.In today’s age, what was once a too-huge world has become smaller and offices can be anywhere, and nowhere at the same time. The Beat generation is long settled and gone. But in their place, a new generation of nomads--digital ones--emerged. And they’ve learned that going on journeys alone is living in one long continuous and often lonely scroll where escaping the rat race can lead you to find many others doing the same thing.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Dec 3

27 min 28 sec

Are there inventions that can end our loneliness? Through the centuries, inventors have found new ways to innovate and design devices that are meant to advance our lives. But sometimes these inventions, in moving us forward actually end up making us feel more alone. From the telescope to the ostrich pillow, Playboy centrefolds and interactive posters that kiss you back, these are our picks for some of the loneliest inventions.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Nov 26

28 min 49 sec

Once upon a time there was a way to use fairy tales to tell stories about loneliness and the endings weren’t always happy. Fairy tales are stories that matter to those alone and those wanting an escape. Because they are all about isolation--the hero or the heroine are often cast out on their own. They seek refuge in forests that seem dark and threatening. But in those scary, unwelcoming places, they find the unexpected and the occasional magic. Not everyone has a fairy godmother who appears and waves a wand. But the tale behind these stories is often this: anyone can escape the forest of loneliness.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Nov 19

27 min 25 sec

How did you mark November 11th this year? If you were in Canada you may have spent a moment of silence remembering the men and women who fought in wars to protect our freedoms. But if you are listening from other places in the world, in Asia, November 11th may mean something else for you… Singles' Day. It’s a day that is supposed to be for celebrating those who are alone. A one. We look at how Singles' Day, which began in China, is the result of the one child policy, the mandate turned the world’s most populous country into a nation of lonely people. A country of ones.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Nov 12

29 min 58 sec

Animals are mostly social, but a research study found something unusual in an animal that doesn’t normally socialize with others. Terrestrial hermit crabs have a social agenda that’s more self-serving: they get together to kick another crab out of its shell so they can move on up in the world into a larger, more spacious home. Even hermit crabs need others in order to have more room to grow.Believe it or not, there are things we can learn from hermit crabs.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Nov 5

27 min 11 sec

Literature is a good kind of contagion. Reading the imagined scenario, the fictional character dealing with the same things we are, helps us process as a community even if we don’t know each other, we can read the same stories. We are in the company of others when we read and a single story can represent millions of other tales, infecting millions of readers at once. It’s not a solitary act--to hole up with a book. It’s an exercise, in human interaction and in faith in yourself that you are changing with each word you read. When you turn to the last page, you’re better prepared for camaraderie, collaboration, and connecting to others.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Oct 29

27 min 8 sec

A dog’s nose is an estimated 100 times more sensitive than human noses. Humans have five million sensory receptors in our brain, dogs have 300 million receptors and compared to them, our own olfactory receptors are puny.Human scent is something we all have. The way we smell to ourselves and to others--including dogs and people, can reveal a lot. It can tell us about the kind of food we’re eating, or should be eating, the environment we’re in, whether we slept well last night or if we’re sleepy right now. Our scent can tell us if we’re feeling anxious or uncertain, powerful and confident. Our smell can even tell us if we’re lonely.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Oct 22

28 min 44 sec

The loneliest movie characters are recognizable right away on screen. Male characters will talk to themselves in a mirror or work the night shift or drive a taxi. They may be pursued by shadowy figures and don’t know why. Or the life they thought they had turns out to be fake. Lonely movie characters are often stranded in a foreign place, in outer space or on an island. But one of the biggest clues of whether a character is lonely or not is an inside joke, at least from the perspective of the audience. Funny people playing lonely characters.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Oct 15

28 min 30 sec

Brazil’s football team Sports Club Recife has some of the world’s most devoted fans so when the team asked its fans to give their organs after they died by signing organ cards, the response was overwhelming. The Immortal Fans campaign promised die-hard followers of the team that even death won’t stop them from remaining fans, forever. Athletic achievement makes us want to be that good at something and we are in awe of what athletes can do. There’s a connection to athletes--we watch them struggle to come back from defeat and we feel like we are part of it when they stand on top of the field as champions. On the outside, athletes are in top physical shape, but inside, it’s a lonely place for them.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Oct 8

28 min 6 sec

We are all new arrivals someplace and we all know the loneliness of what it’s like to be from somewhere else and have to find our community. In TV series from Green Acres to Schitt’s Creek, that discovery of life away from big cities is played for laughs as newcomers discover who they really are in strange new places. In Willmar, Minnesota, people had to intentionally find ways to be together. Isolation and quarantines changed how residents connected. What used to happen pre-pandemic in smaller towns was an ingrained sense of community. Residents would see each other all the time. They would go to each other’s homes or they may run into someone they knew at the local stores and go for lunch or get caught up by grabbing a coffee.  But when differences divide people, everyone has to find a new way to reconnect.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Oct 1

26 min 4 sec

The whale known as 52 has captured the attention of celebrities from Leo DiCaprio to BTS, the South Korean boy band who recorded a popular song about what it's like to be the only whale of its kind in the ocean. The lone whale’s song was first detected by a classified underwater surveillance system designed for the Cold War era. It sounded so distinct from any other whale sounds that it sounded mechanical. At first, the speculation was it could be a Russian or Chinese submarine.For 12 years, the sound, coming from the whale, named 52 for the frequency of its song, was tracked. No other whale has ever responded.The songs animals sings tell us something about our own loneliness. In Southeast Asia, people capture wild songbirds to be caged and forced to sing only for humans and for decades, whales were hunted and killed for their oil and meat. But the songs of animals are not meant for us to hear alone. They are sung in order for animals to connect to each other and it's up to us to decide whether we are ready to hear the song of the lonely.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 24

26 min 34 sec

The answer to ending loneliness may be A.I. and if we can wrap information within a personality with a sense of humour, that may be the perfect companion. In 2001, if you were on AOL and wanted to chat with one of the buddies on your list, there was always someone there waiting for you, even if no human wanted to talk. You didn't need to look for SmarterChild. It was already in your Buddy List waiting for you to begin chatting with it. SmarterChild was online from 2000 to 2006 and was the first commercial chatbot. It was witty, it knew stuff and it quickly became the most popular bot in history, pre-Siri, pre-Alexa. Five percent of all instant messaging traffic at that time--hundreds of millions of messages a day--went through the bot named SmarterChild. And then SmarterChild was gone. Artificial Intelligence is said to be as important in the 21st century as electricity and steam power in earlier centuries. Could we use A.I. to solve loneliness?  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 17

30 min 13 sec

If there’s one word that immediately brings the image of someone to your mind, it may very well be: Celebrity. Just hearing that word and you associate it with your favourite fill-in-the-blank star. Many people want fame, even crave it, because of what we believe life is like for the famous. And despite being unfamous, we can all associate the perks of being a celebrity, including fortune, designer clothes, valet parking, mansions with pools. Yet even from the perspective of peering in on the lives of people we think we know, we can see the darker side of fame: the isolation, the loneliness.Celebrities serve a purpose in the lives of the rest of us, the unknowns. We sometimes glorify their successes and we, at times, glorify their failures.They’re not just like us. What celebrities prove, to us, is that even fame, and the adoration of millions who send gifts to the wealthy and the known, is no guarantee that we aren’t alone.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 10

34 min 50 sec

It’s been more than a year and a half of solitude for millions of us. The pandemic led to shutdowns and isolation. Being alone has taken a toll. Loneliness is something all of us feel at some time. Some are alone by choice, others have had it imposed on them. Each story is unique and different. In Season 2 of Alone Together: A Curious Exploration of Loneliness, we learn there’s so much more to gain when we dig deep into how connections are found. Research is emerging from the pandemic of how we have all been affected around the world by loneliness. Those insights tell us something we can all learn about who we are today. Again, this season, we’ll find meaning for isolation and solitude, through music, art, books, history, films, science and pop culture. We may be alone, but we are alone together.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 5

1 min 44 sec

Over the first season of Alone Together, we’ve compiled notes and tips from our executive producer, Terry O’Reilly, the host of Under The Influence, who knows a lot about writing for the ears and not for your eyes. During the 25 episodes of season 1, Terry has provided great tips on how to write for sound and storytelling structure, and how audio and podcasts are different from print stories.In this bonus episode, here are some of Terry’s Tips for Writing and Storytelling. We’ll be back with Season 2 on September 10 with new episodes exploring loneliness. Please join us and subscribe. Director: Callie O'ReillySound Engineer: Geoff DevineTheme Music: Ian Lefeuvre and Ari PosnerProducers: Debbie O'Reilly and Guillermo SerranoExecutive Producer: Terry O'Reilly. Writer and Host: Peg Fong  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 20

7 min 12 sec

We are alone. But that doesn’t mean we are on our own. Over this last year of the pandemic and this first season of the show, we heard from others who were also curious:What can loneliness tell us about who we are right now? And people all over shared their ideas and their thoughts about solitude and challenged some stereotypes we might have had about loneliness. Over the last 24 episodes, we explored what it means to be alone, the art it helped create, the stories it led writers to tell, the songs that emerged from loneliness and the pain it caused and ultimately the new paths it leads to. Loneliness can lead to inspiration and the stories we heard inspired us and made us think differently about what it means to be alone and how it can bring us together.Listen wherever you get your pods and download our show notes here   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 28

18 min 33 sec

Following the pandemic of 1918, there was an urge to look for new solutions to what we used every day inside our homes. Everything from door knobs to bed frames to toilet seats were redesigned towards a cleaner, more hygienic environment. What will the interiors of houses look like after this pandemic and how and where will we live?Whether it’s a basement suite or a mansion by the beach, our homes are shelters and sanctuaries. But sanctuaries come at a cost. House prices skyrocketed during the pandemic and so did loneliness.  It may be scary to go back outside after this pandemic, but greenspace and third places connect us with each other after months of isolation. In this episode, hear from: Uwe Schmidt-Hess, the founder and director of 'Patalab. Since setting up the practice in 2008, he has coordinated the design of a diverse range of projects encompassing the residential, public, office, arts and culture sectors. Prior to establishing Patalab, Uwe worked for several leading international firms including Fink+jocher in Munich, Atrium Design in Bangkok and Make Architects in London.Erin Peavey, an Architect and Design Researcher at HKS. She bridges the gap between research and practice, with a focus on design for health and wellbeing. Erin has been named a Rising Star by Healthcare Design Magazine and Healthcare Design's Best Under 40 by the AIA-AAH.If you like this episode, please subscribe here: and follow us on social media @apostrophepod   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 21

28 min 24 sec

From Yoda to Henry David Thoreau, hermits have something to teach us about loneliness. For centuries, in religious and in secular life, there are people who chose to remove themselves from society. It could be for long periods of time. Karen Fredette entered a monastery after high school and then to a cabin by herself for six years. Henry David Thoreau lived for two years, two months and two days in the woods. If you are a hermit, being alone is an option to consider when the world around you doesn’t feel quite right, when there’s something that troubles you. Solitude can, for some of us, be a better companion than company. Hermits have led the way and they want to share what they’ve learned.Guests: Professor Michael Vargas, History Department, SUNY, New PaltzPaul and Karen Fradette, Ravens Bread Ministries Jeffrey S Cramer, Curator of Collections at the Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute LibraryIf you liked this episode, please subscribe and follow us wherever you get your pods or at Be social with us at @apostrophepod  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 14

25 min 43 sec

One is the loneliest number that you can ever do, according to Harry Nilsson’s song One. But two can be just as bad as one.The formula behind loneliness isn’t based on numbers but on connections. In this episode, hear from:Suzza Silver, a writer who loves numbers behind Beauty of Mathematics. She failed grade four math but learned how to figure out numbers. She came up with her own solution to become a math muse by forming associations between letters and numbers. Cathery Yeh at Chapman University who has a doctorate in education with a focus on learning, cognition, and development and an emphasis in Chicano/Latino Studies whose research interests is in Mathematics Teaching and Learning, Equity and Social Justice Education and Teacher Education. Ben Orlin, a math teacher and author of the books Math with Bad Drawings (2018) and Change is the Only Constant (2019) who has taught every level of mathematics from ages 12 to 18.Useful links: Cathery Yeh of Mathematics with Bad Drawings with us: Alone Together https://apostrophepodcasts.caWe love hearing from you. Please subscribe to our channel wherever you get your pods and get caught up on previous episodes you may have missed. We’re on social: @apostrophepod  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 7

29 min 29 sec

We wear clothes for ourselves, but also as a statement of who we are to the outside world. Are we casual or formal? Loose and relaxed. Or rigid and constructed? Through our clothes, the message we are telling complete strangers who are dressed like us: we are connected. Clothes can also give another signal: that we are alone and lonely. Clothes are a physical reflection of our internal thoughts and our internal longings.  They are a shield against external elements and a signal of what we want to say about who we are.They tell the world, even to someone casually walking by you on the street, that you aren’t alone because your choice might have a chance of connecting to someone else. Put on your comfy pants and let’s explore how clothes protect us and connect us to each other.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

May 31

27 min 31 sec

One of the biggest international hits from South Korea in recent years was the K-drama Crash Landing on You. The plot is about a South Korean heiress who paraglides accidentally across the border into enemy territory where she’s rescued by a North Korean soldier. Each of the two main characters are lonely in their own way and that loneliness tells us something about how the two countries separated and evolved from one united Korea against foreigners to becoming two culturally distinct nations. The nickname Hermit Kingdom was given to Korea by outsiders because of its isolationist policies in the 19th century. These days in South Korea, that self-imposed isolationism has given rise to another word: Honjok, a term for people who do activities on their own, like solo flight. But to take off, whether economically as South Korea has risen, or from the ground up to glide as an individual, is to find places to land. In this episode, we hear from experts about South Korea and North Korea and how we crash land on loneliness. Experts in this episode include: >Professor Sarah A. Son, a researcher on identity and inter-Korean relations at the School of East Asian Studies at The University of Sheffield. >Journalist Anne Babe, long-form storytelling who has written about reclusiveness in South Korea>Journalist Crystal Tai, who has written about Honjok >Sokeel Park, South Korea Country Director for Liberty in North Korea, an organization which helps North Koreans escape the regime and resettle.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

May 24

33 min 26 sec

Our guests in this episode know what it takes to survive on your own, alone. Woiniya Dawn Thibeault teaches people around the world how to empower, connect and inspire with ancestral and land-based living skills. Dr. Sarita Robinson, aka Dr. Survival, researches people’s reactions to disasters, focusing on trying to work out why some people are more likely to survive than others in emergency situations and how anyone can improve their chances of survival. And Les Stroud, Survivorman, has been in some of the world’s most dangerous situations from the Kalahari Desert to the snake-infested jungles of the Amazon. Surviving alone and thriving. These experts have important lessons to teach all of us about how resilience can be learned. Useful links and resourcesConnect with Buckskin Revolution Website: with Survivorman Les Stroud Website: with Dr. Survival Website: with Alone Together:Website: @apostrophepodIf you enjoyed this episode please subscribe to our channel so you never miss an episode.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

May 17

29 min 10 sec

If you could pick the loneliest music genre of all, what would be some of options: would it be blues or jazz? How about shoegaze. What makes a song lonely and can music bring us closer together even if we are listening on our own. In this episode, we hear from experts:Robbie Kowal, a DJ, who held the first silent disco in America.Lisa Christiansen, a music journalist and reporter at the CBC.Steve Wide, a radio announcer, in Melbourne, Australia and a fan of shoegaze.Geoff Luck, CEO at Hyperlive, senior researcher of music perception, cognition and computational analysis at University of Jyväskylä Useful links and resources:Connect with Alone Together at Apostrophe Podcasts:Website: @apostrophepodIf you enjoy this episode, please subscribe wherever you get your pods to catch up on earlier shows and never miss an episode.Alone Together: A Curious Exploration of Loneliness interviews experts for in-depth discussions on what we can learn about loneliness through culture, history and science.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

May 10

28 min 14 sec

Science fiction makes us bold about exploring so we can feel less alone when we imagine a future world where there are infinite diversities, infinite combinations. In the future, there’s always hope we will lead a less lonely existence and find signs of life that we aren’t alone.In this episode, we talk to: Rod Faulkner, a science fiction fan who grew up in the South and became a fan after watching Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura) on the original Star Trek. He discusses how science fiction explores race relationsSean Redmond, professor of screen and design at Deakin University, Australia and author of Celebrity, Liquid Space: Science Fiction Film and Television in the Digital Age who talks about the futuristic lonely cities seen in Blade Runner and Minority Report, Tony Tellado, producer/host of Sci Fi Talk who explores why so many immigrants and outsiders were drawn to science fiction. Useful links and resources:Connect with Alone Together at Apostrophe Podcasts:Website: @apostrophepodIf you enjoy this episode, please subscribe wherever you get your pods to catch up on earlier shows and never miss an episode. Alone Together: A Curious Exploration of Loneliness interviews experts for in-depth discussions on what we can learn about loneliness through culture, history and science.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

May 3

26 min 17 sec

Four-year-old Eliana Pauls wrote a story during the pandemic. It was about her best friend, a fairy named Sapphire. The fairy had wings, hair of gold, and like Eliana, they both love the colour blue. While Eliana is a real little girl who can be seen by anyone, Sapphire, the fairy, cannot. She can’t be seen during regular times and never by people who don’t believe in fairies. But once in a blue moon, when the conditions are perfect, she appears with her suitcase. And if you are very lucky, like Eliana, and believe in fairies with your whole heart, you will see her. Another thing that Eliana and Sapphire the Fairy have in common is they both believe and they have faith in imagination. Imagine your way out of loneliness. It worked for a four year old girl name Eliana, who is a real human being, and Sapphire the Fairy, who had forgotten what it was like to believe in humans.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 26

28 min 32 sec

Hunger makes us reach for the food that provides us with what we need at that moment. But there are different types of hunger and our brain and our stomach tell us that there are needs that must be filled by connections with people and not just our favourite comfort food. A new study shows that even one day of being alone makes our brain respond as if we’ve been fasting. Food feeds us and fills us up, as does connections.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 19

28 min 28 sec

Imagine waking up one morning to discover you are entirely alone. Everyone else in your home has disappeared.  You look out the window and the streets are empty. No cars on the road, no planes overhead. Shops are abandoned. Schools are deserted. Buildings completely vacant.No phone reception. No internet connection. No electricity. No television or radio. It is silent and eerie. Lonely. You are alone on an island with no one else and there’s no way out. Now imagine if all this was happening and you are a child. Book and movies about children abandoned and left on their own are popular in fiction. But they also happen in real life. The most powerless and the most vulnerable have at times in history figured out how to survive on their own and they have lessons to teach the rest of us.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 12

25 min 8 sec

Single’s Day in China is a day to celebrate being on your own, unattached and alone. Four men are believed to have invented the holiday as their protest to Valentine’s Day. China is the country of the one-child policy and it was so effective that two generations later, Chinese men and women are alone and lonely at a scale unprecedented in our time.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 5

27 min 31 sec

When we put our thoughts and feelings in a letter, it’s an attempt to understand our loneliness. In letter writing, we are connecting the weight that is in our heart and in our mind and having it come through our hands on to something permanent. We sign our names and commit to a contract. We sign petitions as a commitment to a belief.  We know what happened in the past. But a letter is a wish to make sense of our present at that moment. And it is an act of faith. That the person who reads the letter will understand what we want them to know. And we can dispel some of the loneliness we had when we started writing.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 29

27 min 45 sec

If you are lucky, you live in the South West of England, one of the country’s nine official regions, where Stonehenge is located. It is the place of origin of Devon cream teas, cheddar cheese, and Cornish pasties. The population: 5.6 million people. If you are really fortunate, you live in the county of Somerset with its rolling hills and the home of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The population in that county: 560,000. But you’ve really hit the jackpot if in the county of Somerset, you are a resident of Frome, a town built on the eastern edge of Mendip Hills. Population in Frome: 28,000.  The number of lonely? Perhaps zero.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 22

27 min 19 sec

In times of trauma and stress, people, animals, and even nature somehow find a way of coming together. It’s a phenomenon that has been documented in bees and trees and even in human knees. When you’re down and almost done, it’s rally and recovery time. In 2005, during Europe’s primary club football competition, Liverpool of England was about to be mightily defeated by Milan of Italy in Instanbul, Turkey. Thousands of Liverpool fans were in the stands, despondent, and then they began singing. Just when you think it’s all over, some things change and come together.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 15

26 min 29 sec

The legendary spymaster known only as the Man Without a Face lived a life of concealment. He was rarely ever seen by outsiders during his time in power. He used spycraft to gain secrets by targeting the lonely. Over the span of decades, the Man Without a Face supplied a steady stream of Romeos across the wall to get to Juliets and the secrets they had access to. In the world of espionage, those who have access are powerful and vulnerable. They are sought after, pursued and targeted. But even the loneliest of spies needs to leave the shadows at some time and step into the light to show their face... and who they really are.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 8

28 min 55 sec

A dictator behind the Iron Curtain issued a decree so he could grow an army. Instead he created a nation of orphans. We instantly connect to fictional orphan characters when we read about them in books like the Harry Potter series and Dorothy Gale in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In real life, the damage done to orphans when they are abandoned early in life can have lasting effects, leaving them isolated and alone, even after they are adults. The absence of connections affects us deeply. The pandemic has caused us damage emotionally and physically but maybe there are lessons we can learn from orphans.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 1

34 min 52 sec

Edvard Munch’s most famous painting, The Scream, began as a walk in nature and is a representation of isolation, disconnection and loneliness.During lockdowns, when gyms and pools were all closed, the only form of exercise many people could do was walk. Our outside walks became rituals for many of us, the only time of the day or night when we left our homes. Since ancient Greek and Roman times, walking has been considered a part of healing. It’s a concept that Japanese culture has long believed in: to walk in nature, surrounded by trees, is a way to shed loneliness and connect back to others and our roots.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Feb 22

23 min 58 sec

Superheroes can save us from many things including annihilation, evil, mutant viruses, and mad geniuses. But perhaps the most important one is these characters have something to teach us about loneliness. Almost all origin stories of superheroes begin with intense isolation, abandonment, and solitude. Why do so many superheroes long to not have their superpowers and how did their time alone help them understand their purpose towards themselves and to others, the people they’re supposed to help. From Fortress of Solitudes to Batcaves, take a leap this week into the pages of comic books and lonely superheroes.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Feb 15

26 min 42 sec

You can’t touch this podcast, but you can hear in this episode the reasons why touch matters. The loss of physical touch has increased our feelings of loneliness. For some people who are living by themselves, it’s been months since they’ve had physical contact with another person. A year ago, we hugged and we touched without thinking about what we were doing. Every physical action we take now is planned and deliberate. The way we say hello or goodbye has changed. That need to connect through touch is more important to some people than others. But even when we can’t connect through physical touch, there are other ways to stay connected. Hear in this episode what touch means to a professional cuddler, someone who has haphephobia, an expert on touch, and a Thai monk, and the lessons we can learn.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Feb 8

26 min 8 sec

A German government ad released in the winter of 2020 called on those in their 20s to be a special kind of hero by staying inside and being bored and restless on their couch. The term couch potato took on new, heroic meaning. How did those in the most social time of their lives adjust to being indoors and isolated? Their perspective of lockdown changed as did their understanding of what it means to be connected in an online world.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Feb 1

23 min 32 sec

If you’re feeling a little bored these days, you’re not alone. Boredom can keep us trapped in our loneliness. But it can also give us clues as to what we can do to stop being bored. And it may interest you to know researchers around the world study boredom for a number of reasons. For example, it can affect our political choices, how much we give to charity and even how we might decide the fate of someone else if we were on jury duty. Understanding boredom can teach us so much about why we don’t like being alone and the extremes many of us would go to in order to avoid being with just our own thoughts.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jan 25

30 min 59 sec

How far would you go to end loneliness? Would you go to the lengths that Tony Williams, a retired widower, did to try to connect with his community? He printed up hundreds of business cards to hand out, hoping people would reach out for a chat. No one did. He placed a big sign in his window telling the world the silence inside his home was unbearable, pleading for people to call him. What do you think happened next? The adage that "it's better to give than to receive" has been scientifically proven to have benefits and Tony Williams’ sign became a signal.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jan 18

28 min

There’s a famous painting by American artist Edward Hopper of four people sitting in a diner on a dark corner. That theme, in many of Hopper’s works, of people inside looking out, longing for something beyond their walls captured the attention of many at the beginning of the pandemic. Diners have become associated with the place to go for those on their own and wanting connections. This week, we hear from artists, curators, writers and a civil rights scholar about the role diners have played in our culture. So grab a cup of joe and pass the ketchup. Let’s meet at the local diner.   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jan 11

25 min 59 sec

A life of solitude was imposed on millions of us during the pandemic due to the coronavirus. Being alone is a life chosen deliberately by some; others are just alone, not by choice. We can end up unexpectedly alone and for many, the twists and turns of life, brought us to where we are, alone. Experts and researchers around the world share their insights about what we know about loneliness, we find meaning of it from songs, art, books, films, history and pop culture. We isolate the lessons of loneliness from people like you and people like me who have unique stories to tell and to share. We may be alone, but we are alone together.  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Jan 4

1 min 59 sec