Technology is often blamed for social isolation, but girlfriend chatbots, dating sites and parenting forums can help break down barriers

Young or old, loneliness is fast becoming a defining phenomenon of our age. The blame is often placed on modern communications technology, especially the virtual type. We’d rather message our friends than meet them.

The tech industry is obviously keen to promote the contrary. Facebook, which has almost 1.5bn active users, promises to make “the world more open and connected”. Dating-app Tinder, meanwhile, promotes itself as “like real life, but better” – so much better, in fact, there are suspicions lonely married folk are signing up in droves.

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