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Why Are More Americans Lonely Today?
by Janice Shaw Crouse, Posted Jul 13, 2006
Human Events Online
Rarely has news from an academic paper struck such a responsive nerve with the general public. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reported in its General Social Survey that unprecedented numbers of Americans are lonely.
Published in the American Sociological Review (ASR) and authored by Miller McPhearson, Lynn Smith-Lovin and Matthew Brashears, sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona, the study featured 1,500 face-to-face interviews, where more than a quarter of the respondents — one in four — said that they have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs. If family members are not counted, the number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside their immediate family with whom they can share confidences. Sadly, the researchers noted that the number of “socially isolated” Americans has doubled since 1985.
These dramatic statistics from ASR parallel similar trends reported by the Beverly LaHaye Institute — that over the 40 years from 1960 to 2000 the number of people living as “unrelated individuals” increased from 6 to 16 percent of all persons. Additionally, about 70 percent of those classified as “unrelated individuals” lived alone.
How did this come about? A number of streams feed this river. Dependence upon government rather than neighbors is surely a factor. And look at all the fun which can now be experienced alone compared to just a few decades ago prior to the era of endless cable TV programs and video games. Not to mention the internet.
The implications for the followers of Christ, in view of this trend, are real and they are vast. Is not old-fashioned hospitality part of the solution? No wonder that the older ones or overseers in the churches were/are required to be hospitable.
The phrase “friendship evangelism” is a new one but the concept is ancient.