9 responses to “The Lonely Get Lonelier”

  1. Sarah

    Dear Jack, it is never just you. Y’hear?

  2. Kathryn

    Hey Jack,

    I love reading your insights. This reminds me of an article I read for my first year politics module, as I recall it was called ‘Bowling Alone’ and was about the death of social capital in America. The example of bowling was used to highlight a wider phenomenon of less social interaction between members of a community that previously had known each other through community activities such as religious groups, bowling leagues and, as you point out, gyms. At the time the author was pointing out that TV meant that people were becoming more isolated and this has only gotten worse with the abundance of new, isolating technology.

    I think you’re right that this is sad, it diminishes the quality of human existence by diminishing the quality of our daily interractions and it can even, as suggested in the ‘Bowling Alone’ article, reduce the effectiveness of democracy. It makes perfect sense that in a world where people don’t know their neighbours and don’t interact with members of their community they will feel less connected to them and be less inclined to consider their welfare when making voting decisions. Even if they do wish to look out for the welfare of their fellow citizens it seems they will be less likely to know what constitutes that welfare.

    This problem is certainly not unique to the US, I have mentioned it here only because that is obviously your reference and also happens to be the reference of the paper, but much has been said in recent years about this same problem in Britain, with TV programmes highlighting the fact that there are streets where people who have lived there for decades don’t know who their nieghbours are. It is all very sad and I can only hope that other forms of interraction will arise to take the place of the ones we are losing. One obvious one is the one that has allowed you and I to have meaningful conversations over a number of years without ever having met!

    All the best,
    Kath

  3. Karen

    This is fantastic, Jack. Totally insightful, as always. Just the other day I was saying how I’m not ready to give up the look and feel of books:)

  4. doreen

    I agree. I always loved checking out what everyone else on the train was reading. Love my books, not ready to hand them in for an e-reader anytime soon.

  5. Frank B.

    Counterpoint: Last night my son watched the Grammys with a whole bunch of his friends, electronically. They had a big multiuser iChat session where they provided their own real-time commentary. They’re not averse to meeting in person, but there are limits when it’s 10:00 on a school night and you are 13. So I think human communication will endure.

  6. Frank B.

    Perhaps you could start an elliptical book club?

  7. jennyphresh

    I personally can never get over the scent of a library book. And the sound. That crinkly, well-loved sound. Unfortunately, I do not desecrate such books by bringing them to the gymnasium, where sweat may fall upon them. I bring OK! magazine, which should be drenched in sweat, and other substances.
    Good words, Jack, good words.

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