All alone, with hundreds of friends on MySpace

Andy Rau

Note: Oops, Charlie beat me to the punch on this one. (I thought that report seemed familiar.) Nevertheless, it's worth clicking through to see what the In the Agora bloggers have to say about the story.

The world may seem to be getting smaller and smaller through such phenomena as email and instant messaging, but Americans are feeling more and more isolated, according to a recent study. From the article:

Compared with 1985, nearly 50 percent more people in 2004 reported that their spouse is the only person they can confide in. But if people face trouble in that relationship, or if a spouse falls sick, that means these people have no one to turn to for help, Smith-Lovin said.

"We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times," she said. "We're not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important."

This is a theme that has come up here before--the nagging sense that while the quantity of communication in our lives is increasing, the quality is not. The crew at In the Agora have a good discssion going on about this (start here); poster Seth Zirckle suggests that this isolation is present even in the modern church, which is losing a sense of Biblical community.

What about you? Could you turn to anybody on your IM buddy list for help in the event of a personal crisis? Do you feel a sense of isolation admist all the blogs and emails and cellphone calls? And the much harder question--since this overwhelming array of communication methods isn't going anywhere, how do we encourage the development of meaningful human relationships in a world that encourages shallow, sound-bite interaction?

Topics: Online, Culture At Large, Science & Technology, Technology, News & Politics, Social Trends