Robin Williams and our strange times: Does society set the stage for depression?

The first key aspect of this perfect depressive dystopia would be to get as many people as possible interacting with screens, instead of with flesh-and-blood human beings, as often as possible. (Pause for the irony that you’re almost certainly reading this on a screen.) Prevalent aspects of human contact from the dawn of human civilization — eye contact, tone of voice, volume of voice, sarcasm and inflection, posture, body language — would be removed from the increasingly common forms of communication, and everyone would spend as much time as possible interpreting the true meaning of hieroglyphics that are supposed to resemble human faces. Miscommunications, perceived insults, and fights would grow apace.

This depressive world would remove the tactile sensation of human touch, expressed in a romantic and sexual sense but also in the gestures of a handshake, a hand on the shoulder, a hug, a pat on the back. Entire friendships would begin and end online, with the individuals never interacting in person.

The constantly online life would undoubtedly come at the expense of the offline life. People would interact with their neighbors less. There would be fewer shared social experiences — the social phenomenon of Bowling Alone on steroids.