The Null Device

Lonely nation

Apparently the number of Americans who have close friends has plummeted in the past few decades:
Confirming the central thrust of Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, a study (pdf) released in the American sociological review today shows that Americans have fewer close friends and confidants than they did 20 years ago. In 1985, the average American had three people in whom to confide matters that were important to them. In 2004, it dropped to two, and one in four had no close confidants at all.
Apparently this is due to a number of factors: car-centric post-war urban design and the disappearance of public space where people can meet contribute, though a major factor is the ever-increasing working hours in America, a nation that's increasingly time-poor; making and maintaining friendships, after all, takes time, of which there is less and less. Perhaps someone in America will invent a way of making friends more efficiently? (I suspect that this approach, whilst inventive, may not be entirely satisfactory.) Of course, where America goes, others often follow.

And the readers' comments contain some gems, like this one:

Along with the world hating Americans, we now get told Americans can't stand each other either. Sounds like more Guardian hatred of America to me. Ever been to our churches, Mr Younge? There you'll find how we Amercians not only have the friendship and love of others, but that the Lord loves our company as well. We leave the solitary cheese-eating to others.
Oddly enough, this is posted by someone in "Birmingham/gbr", so it could be some Brit taking the piss.

There are 3 comments on "Lonely nation":

Posted by: amby Fri Jun 23 23:53:03 2006

I think the guardian comment blog should really get rid of columnist portraits. They tend to look like disgruntled employees.

Posted by: Amerikaaners Wed Jun 28 19:09:38 2006

My parents had very few if no friends. They go months without dealing with any close confidants. I have at least 3 close friends that live here in LA where I live and several close friends that are a phone call away. I can confide with any of them. What I'm lacking is a friend in LA that makes a decent enough amount of money to go do things with me. Waaah.

I had tons of superficial friends in college and also some very close ones.

I think socialogy is mostly completely full of shit. And I think your perverted obsession with Americana is funky.

Posted by: acb Wed Jun 28 22:22:31 2006

If you don't like the point of view, there's nothing making you read this blog.

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