The pandemic as a wake-up call for personal health­–New York Times, March 10, 2021
An important reflection on what the pandemic has taught us about the cost of our failure to focus on preventative health, diet and exercise, and combatting obesity—and the “misguided reliance on medicine to patch up…our self-inflicted wounds.” With obesity the second leading risk factor for death from COVID-19 (behind age), and with, for example, 70% of Americans now overweight and more than a third obese, we simply must heed this wake-up call.

How important are your pals? (Huge: friendships have an extraordinary impact on our physical and mental health)–The Guardian, February 21, 2021
This is a review of the new book, Friends: Understanding the Power of Our Most Important Relationships, by evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar. The thrust of his argument: The number and quality of our friendships may have a bigger influence on our happiness, health and mortality risk than anything else in life save for giving up smoking. Two interesting insights: (1) Friendship requires investment: It “dies fast” when not maintained, and distance, even in the age of the mobile phone, has a catastrophic effect on it; (2) Most of the gender stereotypes about friendship (women have more friendships, and more intense ones) are true.

Are we ready for the return of mass tourism?The New Republic, March 9, 2021
This is about The World in a Selfie: An Inquiry Into the Tourist Age by Marco D’Eramo—a new book in which the Italian social theorist claims that we live in the “Age of Tourism”: It has been the defining industry of the 21st century and was an $8.8 trillion business in 2018 (10.4% of global GDP). It explores many different issues (like whether “sustainable travel” is oxymoronic) and, more generally, the impact tourism has had on our politics, our planet, and ourselves. The pandemic has not made it any clearer what the end of this age of tourism would look like, but it has clarified just how tenacious tourism’s hold on society has been—and how mass tourism simply cannot go on as it has.

A Striking Stat

57% of people have experienced COVID-19-related adversity or trauma. One-quarter now show signs of a mood disorder; only 40% are “succeeding or thriving”; and the mental wellbeing of young people is cause for alarm: Only 17% of those aged 18-24 report they’re “succeeding or thriving” versus 75% of those over 65.

Source: Sapien Labs survey of 49,000 adults in eight countries, March 2021

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