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Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:38 AM

Americans are the loneliest, most isolated people

Last edited Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:17 AM - Edit history (2)

I have observed this for a long time. I lived in other countries and didn't find the same extreme isolation and loneliness that I do here, and I blame the system of life here for that. I don't think each individual is to blame for this. I blame things such insane ideas as the American Dream, the pull yourself up by your bootstraps madness, and other false, absurd, non-sensical and silly capitalistic notions of American life for the isolated American lifestyle. It's a whole system based on isolation, and sporadic get-togethers. The worst part of it is, we are accustomed to it, and know no other way of life, and we believe this is normal. It isn't. Here are excerpts from a truly good article on American loneliness and isolation.


Upstairs, she found Vickers’s body, mummified, near a heater that was still running. Her computer was on too, its glow permeating the empty space. Vickers’s web of connections had grown broader but shallower, as has happened for many of us. We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible…

In 1950, less than 10 percent of American households contained only one person. By 2010, nearly 27 percent of households had just one person. A 2010 AARP survey found that 35 percent of adults older than 45 were chronically lonely, as opposed to 20 percent of a similar group only a decade earlier. According to a major study by a leading scholar of the subject, roughly 20 percent of Americans—about 60 million people—are unhappy with their lives because of loneliness. Across the Western world, physicians and nurses have begun to speak openly of an epidemic of loneliness…

We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants—that is, in quality social connections—has been dramatic over the past 25 years. In one survey, the mean size of networks of personal confidants decreased from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. Similarly, in 1985, only 10 percent of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent said they had only one such good friend. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent had only one confidant…

In the face of this social disintegration, we have essentially hired an army of replacement confidants, an entire class of professional carers. As Ronald Dworkin pointed out in a 2010 paper for the Hoover Institution, in the late ’40s, the United States was home to 2,500 clinical psychologists, 30,000 social workers, and fewer than 500 marriage and family therapists. We need professional carers more and more, because the threat of societal breakdown, once principally a matter of nostalgic lament, has morphed into an issue of public health. Being lonely is extremely bad for your health. If you’re lonely, you’re more likely to be put in a geriatric home at an earlier age than a similar person who isn’t lonely. You’re less likely to exercise. You’re more likely to be obese. You’re less likely to survive a serious operation and more likely to have hormonal imbalances. You are at greater risk of inflammation. Your memory may be worse. You are more likely to be depressed, to sleep badly, and to suffer dementia and general cognitive decline…

And yet, despite its deleterious effect on health, loneliness is one of the first things ordinary Americans spend their money achieving. With money, you flee the cramped city to a house in the suburbs or, if you can afford it, a McMansion in the exurbs, inevitably spending more time in your car. Loneliness is at the American core, a by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence… Today, the one common feature in American secular culture is its celebration of the self that breaks away from the constrictions of the family and the state, and, in its greatest expressions, from all limits entirely.


http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/

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Reply Americans are the loneliest, most isolated people (Original post)
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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:42 AM

1. Geography has more of an effect on the culture than we might presume.

 

Most countries in Europe are surrounded by other countries, cultures, societies, languages. America has only two countries at her border.
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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:43 AM

2. How so? Would traveling outside of the country help us change the isolation lifestyle? nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:49 AM

3. It would have a subtle effect, I would think.

 

Multiply that effect by thousands and the 'evolution' of a society may bend one way or another. Just a thought.
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Response to randome (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:53 AM

4. True. Maybe we would notice the radical difference. nt

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Response to randome (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:48 PM

32. What are the stats on Canada? They live more like Europoeans.

Yet they have us and a ton of snow on their borders.

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Response to SleeplessinSoCal (Reply #32)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:12 PM

47. Don't know. But Canada is made up of larger 'states'.

 

I wonder if divvying up our portion of the continent into 50 states and the mania about "states' rights" that goes along with that makes us feel less beholden to the rest.
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Response to randome (Reply #47)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:20 PM

142. Canada's entire population doesn't even reach California's 38 million.

It seems to me that if they aren't as lonely as the population of the United States, it has more to do with their social welfare programs and lack of religious extremists bent on dividing the American population. With the polarization of the U.S. comes a divide wider than any ocean.

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Response to SleeplessinSoCal (Reply #32)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:29 PM

57. I saw a movie by Michael Moore

on guns in America and he talked to Canadians about why they are different. One guy said, they do not lock their doors in Canada like we do in the US. He said they consider locking your door to be locking yourself in and not like us, who consider it locking other people out.

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Response to Beringia (Reply #57)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:58 PM

169. I think that was Bowling for Columbine.

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:03 AM

9. well the geography of the center

is that we are huge

Germany, one of the largest countries of Europe is only about the size of Montana. Has a population of 81 million. Montana has a population of less than a million.

Ya think people are more isolated in Montana than in Germany?

Amazing.

Of course, most Americans do not live in Montana, or a state like Montana.

But perhaps 10% of the country does. Even in Illinois, away from Chicago, there is a fair amount of space. And like the article said, when Americans get the chance, they move AWAY from a place like Chicago to a less-crowded suburb or exurb.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #9)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:10 AM

12. If you live in Germany, you immediately notice that the system is completely different.

From social programs (which we lack), to the fact that we are not geographically distant one from another, etc. Too many other reasons why we can't even begin to compare ourselves to Germany.

Our whole country (with the exception of places such as perhaps NYC), lives an emotionally life as if they were in Montana, or in a Twilight Zone episode about some dystopia where everyone is literally ON HIS OWN, period, no one else to truly confide in or count on.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #12)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:19 AM

15. Really?

It always seemed to me that most people were married, or had an SO that they refused to marry, and have networks of friends.

I never did.

But then again, I am borderline Aspie.

Plus, I grew up in South Dakota, and I like space and HATE urban clusterfucks. For me, living in NYC would be an episode of the Twilight Zone where the guy realizes he has died and gone to hell.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #12)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:28 AM

17. Even here on DU, when we hear someone is broke or in need of money, we basically say...

 

..."Good luck. Let us know how it turns out."

Is there any valid reason why someone should be in need of money? Is it simply because we're afraid we'll be taken advantage of?

If we started a community pool of money at DU for those who are in need, I wonder how many would contribute? And seriously, I wonder if I would contribute.
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Response to randome (Reply #17)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:35 PM

64. I'm a recent member from over

around Daily Kos way, and they have frequent fundraisers for members in need, as well as several charities they've adopted and run fundraising diaries for off and on. Now a scam artist or three has shown up now and again, but they also have groups to encourage board members to meet up with other Kossacks who are in the same part of the country, so there does tend to be some vetting of charity cases. No one is required to donate, but a lot of people do. They've helped people struggling with large vet bills, meeting rent or property taxes, having money for heat in winter, etc.

I think the key is having some way to at least be somewhat sure that you're not just sending money to a scam artist. As long as the need is shown to be real, people tend to step up and help out.

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Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #64)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 11:03 AM

213. welcome to du--quite an alphabet soup you have!! I think the closest thing we have to what

you mentioned is the connection to wishadoo (run by DU'er onegrassroot) and occasional personal help when we know people are in need.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #12)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:35 PM

26. Well I grew up in Montana

But that was long ago, and no one there felt isolated...it was a common practice when you moved into a new neighborhood that all the neighbors would bring you a dish of food to welcome you to the neighborhood and introduce themselves.

Now when a new family moves in they are viewed with suspicion.

So it is not the place it is the time...and today the fabric of our society has been rent.

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Response to zeemike (Reply #26)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:39 PM

85. I think things have changed here dramatically. :( nt

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Response to zeemike (Reply #26)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:50 PM

93. Tell me about it

When I bought a house in my current neighborhood. I just couldn't believe the neighbors. The little old German lady ( who I fondly refer to as "the Neighborhood Nazi), who apparently has nothing to do but stare out of her living room window over to my house, gave me a shit of a time. She was constantly accusing my son and his friends of doing inappropriate things, like throwing eggs at her house and peeing outside in the yard. She threatened to call the police so much- I got sick of it and called them for her.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #9)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:12 AM

14. I don't think Montana has an overwhelming effect.

 

A culture is 'created' by thousands of different influences (moving parts), just as evolution proceeds with what seem to us to be big changes but are, in reality, hundreds of thousands of different influences over vast stretches of time.

Culture accelerates the process of change, I think, but it's behavioral change, not physical. Montana, I would think, eventually becomes 'overwhelmed' by what the norm is for the rest of the country.
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Response to randome (Reply #14)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:34 AM

19. the rest of the country

is somewhat like Montana.

France is the 15th least crowded country in Europe with a population density of 111 per square kilometer. There are four countries - Germany, UK, Netherlands and Belgium with over 200 per skm and Italy has 192. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_and_population_of_European_countries

In the US, there are 29 states, starting with Kentucky with less than 50 people per square kilometer. There are 22 with less than 30. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population_density

That's a good chunk of the country's population.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #19)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:38 AM

20. Good stats.

 

But we also spent the first century of our history playing the part of 'hardy pioneers' who marched into the unknown with little but personal determination and fortitude.

I wonder how much of that first century leaves an indelible mark on the society. Maybe it's like childhood holding the keys to who we become as adults?
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Response to randome (Reply #20)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:54 AM

23. well some did

but there are lots of others who stayed behind in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, etc.

But people moved also with networks of kin and neighbors. Usually.

And this country is also perhaps more diverse. In Spaichingen, Germany, about 12,000 people, I would guess that perhaps 70% of the population of that town is related to me on my mom's side even today.

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Response to randome (Reply #14)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:03 PM

42. Yes, thousands of influences, the country's ideology, its laws, who has the most power, etc. nt

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:35 PM

63. I think it works both ways though.

Ancient Greece was extremely mountanous and you had lots of little communities that were effectively cut off from each other. And yet Greek culture isn't particularly lonely or isolationist - if anything the opposite. Those communities were more tight knit because they were cut off from the surrounding world. I think you find the same thing in small town America or at least you did until the last forty years or so.

And America has a number of internal cultures which are at least as different from each other European countries.

I actually think it's the decline of religion that is fueling a lot of this. I don't mean that it's all negative (I'm an atheist) but for generations the primary non-work, non-family social support network for just about everyone was their religious community.

People live in much more diverse communities now and that's a good thing but one consequence is that they don't have the expectation any more that they are all going to get together once a week to socialise, provide support for older or disabled community members, find like-minded mates, etc.

America has always been spread out geographically. It's only recently that this trend towards increasingly loneliness is being observed.

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Response to wickerwoman (Reply #63)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:29 PM

76. Decline of religion, marriage, women's rights, etc.

 

Oh, I know exactly what you mean, don't anyone take me wrong. The changes of the last forty years were absolutely essential and long overdue!

But for those who can't keep up with the times (the old, white patriarchy), we're stuck with them for a while longer. Maybe that has an effect on the rest of us, too. We seem to have more than one culture trying to co-exist. It's a bumpy ride.
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Response to wickerwoman (Reply #63)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:33 PM

117. My grandpa was born in northern Spain, where villages were isolated from other villages

But within their village, everyone was like family. So it was geographically isolated, but the people within the village were not each isolated from the other. Do you know what I mean?

As for religion, I think religion is the only social outlet Americans have nowadays, since neighborhoods no longer exist.

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:39 PM

86. I think this is the core difference. Having worked in Europe, one is certainly exposed to

many cultures and languages. Also, with the close proximity in many areas, one gets used to being more gregarious, at least to me.

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:07 PM

150. That matters less than population density

 

the US is thinly populated compared to Europe, which is densely urbanised, even in relatively "rural" areas (with people concentrated in towns and villages, not in vast suburban wastelands).

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:46 PM

154. Don't we have Canada....

right next door and don't they set a good example and still we are nothing like Canadians. No, it's our culture and we must own it and also try to change it one liberal at a time at the grassroots level in our own personal lives and not just sit around online bemoaning how disconnected we are as a society and how materialistic we are as a country.

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:33 AM

206. Capitalism needs to detach workers from their support networks.

Last edited Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:42 AM - Edit history (2)

First, workers must be movable and interchangeable, so tightly knit families and neighborhoods would interfere with being able to get workers to go where the corporations need them to be. Then, if the worker is cut off from his support system, and if there is not much of a social safety net available, he can be pressured to work insane hours for job security and money to survive on. And if he has few close friends or family nearby, and little time or energy to nurture close relationships, his work can become his whole life.

Yes people have spouses/SOs and friends, but they have little time or energy for them, and even if we do get a free moment, there are soooo many forms of distraction and entertainment that lead us into isolation (like this one here!), and we are sooooo drained from work that we tend not to spend enough time or energy on those relationships.

Our culture, values, and expectations are shaped by mass media, under corporate control, and with parents working so much, mass media and peer groups heavily influenced by mass media are raising kids to be even more like this.

ON EDIT: I should have specified--it is unregulated, unconstrained capitalism that is the main problem.

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Response to tblue37 (Reply #206)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:54 PM

233. +1. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:54 AM

5. Noam Chomsky on this:



This is an extremely atomized society. People are alone. It’s a very business-run society. The very explicit goal of the business world is to create a social order in which the basic social unit is you and your television set, in which you’re watching ads and going out to purchase commodities. There are tremendous efforts made, that have been going on for a century and a half, to try to induce this kind of consciousness and social order.


Noam gets it.

(See entire post by limpyhobbler in Good Reads: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1016&pid=19730)

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:55 AM

6. SO true! Chomsky is spot on. nt

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:15 PM

48. +10000

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:01 PM

98. Agree with Chomsky--this situation has been created & promoted

Idiocracy.

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Response to marions ghost (Reply #98)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:19 AM

208. And the shows aren't much better than Ow, My Balls! nt

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:46 PM

146. Mobile devices have usurped the television for pushing advertising. People are glued to their

phones and they completely blot out everything and everyone else around them. Years ago, I remember having long conversations with people in grocery stores, in doctor/dentist waiting rooms, on planes or other public transportation. Now, everyone under a certain age is glued to their little devices and I feel like a fish out of water for not being hooked up to one. I think this has done more to destroy the feeling of community than anything else.

I know people who will hardly talk to anyone on the phone--they interact solely by text msg. Even long time friends will just send a message rather than actually talking to someone. Frankly, I like the hear the sound of a loved one's voice. My parents are deceased now, but when they were alive, I would call them sometimes just to hear the sound of their voice, even when I didn't have much to talk about with them.

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Response to japple (Reply #146)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 04:12 PM

226. I've noticed this too. The less and less one does something, the less the habit of it...

until it becomes more and more uncomfortable to do.



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Response to woo me with science (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:58 PM

168. I haven't watched TV in several decades, and I am neither lonely nor isolated.

I don't ever want to die, because I am in love with life. Many mornings I get up and dance and giggle as I wait for my coffee to brew, because it's another beautiful day, and I'm alive.

I highly recommend that everyone just kill off their televisions and go out and have some fun.

Enjoy the day, it's all we have.



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Response to woo me with science (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 04:46 PM

229. As with so many things, Chomsky's absolutely right about this. n/t

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:58 AM

7. There's a definite lack of real, personal contact here.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:02 AM

8. Yup there are superficial & sporadic contacts, but few "for-life, give-your-all" friendships, family

And the strongest, most regular "social" (if it can be called that) outlet Americans have, is often the enemy - churches. Churches (as we've witnessed in hos politically right wing they became) work against the well-being of the society.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #8)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:33 AM

18. Churches might work against society in your worldview..

But there are people whose religious faith and church is the center of their life, and they take it seriously. Plus a pesky little thing called the 1st Amendment and its guarantee of "prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

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Response to MicaelS (Reply #18)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:21 PM

133. Did I say churches should be prohibited? I merely said they've turned right wing and quite fascist

Not all, but an overpreponderance of them. That overpreponderance has done a great deal of damage to our society, in every conceivable way.

Making my observation (and by the way, observations are protected by the 1st Amendment, just to reiterate what you started) that most churches in the U.S. have become tools of damage to our society, is very different from saying that we should overturn the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion. Two different statements, two different comments, unrelated. One I said in my post, the other I didn't.

What's more, if something is harming my country, I don't owe it any respect.

Lastly, anything can be fashioned into an evil tool. You can take the nicest thing and make it into an evil entity. That's what has happened with most churches over the past 30-something years.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #8)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:50 PM

34. Not all churches

Certainly not the one I attend or the ones I have attended in the past. (If I accidentally walked into a right-wing church, I would turn and walk right back out.)

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:42 PM

88. Big difference in friendliness between US & Germany/Ireland/Scotland/England/France

For decades I have gone to live performances of theater, ballet, opera & symphonies, both abroad and here in the USA. I get the best seats I can afford, so I'm sitting around people who definitely aren't poor. In the US, when I have season tickets, I typically sit around the same group of people for years. I often attend as a single, where most of the others around me are part of a couple. In London, Berlin, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, etc., people in neighboring seats are friendly, to the point that we have a drink together at intermissions and linger a while afterwards to discuss the performances.

Here in the states? Hah! Give someone a warm smile and the best you'll get is a frigid nod and then they pointedly avoid eye contact. The attitude seems to be an "Why on earth would I want to talk to a stranger!" I've talked to a few other well-traveled Americans and they agreed that they also have noticed this difference. Perhaps one cause is that so many Americans are very provincial and have not traveled to or experienced other cultures and countries, and are afraid of anything different than what they're used to, including new people.

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Response to Divernan (Reply #88)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:26 PM

108. Yes, I went by myself to a concert at Edvard Grieg's home in Bergen, Norway

(the tourist office sponsors shuttle buses), and I struck up conversations with the people around me. especially a couple from Scotland.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:05 AM

10. Every day the same message: We are all in this alone. nt

 

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Response to Demo_Chris (Reply #10)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:07 AM

11. Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! Enemies all around us, you have only yourself to handle it, you

are alone, your family lives far away and is in the same boat, get-togethers only occur in churches (almost all of which are right wing and subscribe to the isolation-is-best myths), no help anywhere, conform conform conform, and do it by yourself, becoming a cog in the machine.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:11 AM

13. Chillingly insightful. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:24 AM

16. While the article contains many valid points, I think it's important to remember that

living alone does not automatically translate to being lonely.

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Response to Sheldon Cooper (Reply #16)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:29 PM

24. Yep. People have "alone time" all over the world. But isolation (what we have here) is not

the same thing as having a moment that one is not accompanied.

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Response to Sheldon Cooper (Reply #16)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:17 PM

141. Lol

Indeed. Alone at last.

http://m.


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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:39 AM

21. I enjoy my solitude, but...

I've never been lonely.

I'm a lifelong New Yorker now living in the NY suburbs. I have found plenty of social interaction here, but that probably has more to do with having kids than anything else. Most of our friends are parents of the kids my children have been friends with. It's an interesting dynamic, since we're 15-20 years older than everyone else.

I always thought it strange that so many people in NY feel isolated, but it must be tormenting to feel lonely in the midst of such crowds.

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Response to meaculpa2011 (Reply #21)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:47 PM

31. Isolation doesn't always equate with loneliness

I agree, meaculpa. The op sounds like something written by an extrovert, who assumes we all want/need lots of human contact. If you need the contact and don't get it, you're probably lonely.

A lot of us are introverts, though. We're perfectly happy with a few good friends or a husband/wife/significant other. Seeing people at the grocery store or the book store may be all the contact a person needs. Being surrounded by people you can't get away from is really hell.

Articles like this one that lump us all together as a bunch of frustrated extroverts can make the introverts feel like they shouldn't be content. But we are.

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Response to BlueSky3 (Reply #31)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:06 PM

45. Perhaps only someone who has lived elsewhere would notice the isolation in the U.S.

It's the reason people fall between the cracks, why so many people lose it psychologically, etc. It's difficult for some to see the forest for the trees. Being in the midst of something somehow makes it seem like it's a good lifestyle, when it isn't.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #45)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:18 PM

51. A "good" lifestyle?

Actually, I have lived elsewhere, including some of the countries you mention. Your saying that "being in the midst of something somehow makes it seem like it's a good lifestyle, when it isn't" sounds like a value judgment to me.

We're not all alike. There's no one "good" lifestyle. If something works for you and you're happy, it's a "good" lifestyle for you.

I'm not going to argue any further, but would suggest you read a bit about introversion before you pronounce such a judgment on people who are different from yourself.

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Response to BlueSky3 (Reply #51)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:22 PM

52. The Japanese are known for their "introversion" yet have very close friends and family, neighbors

and neighborhoods. There's a vast difference between introversion and the isolated individuals that make up the American lifestyle.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #52)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:14 PM

152. There are plenty of isolated individuals here in Japan

Heck, there are several individuals in my apartment house who never even open the storm shutter that always covers their one window to the world. And while people in long-established neighborhoods do tend to know each other, people who move to so-called "new towns" that are usually built around commuter train lines, often are isolated if they do not have any kids in school. And single people in apartment houses will often go out of their way to avoid meeting each other.

And while Japanese families may remain "intact" at a higher proportion than American families, there is a very common Japanese phenomenon called "kateinai bekkyo" 家庭内別居 in which a husband and wife may live under the same roof, but they rarely, if ever, interact with one another.

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #152)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:39 PM

164. There have always been isolated people, just as there has always been cancer.

But exceptions do not make a rule.

There have always been people who have survived great odds, there have always been exceptions. However, it's not the exceptions that make the rule. It's the majority that are looked at for anything that one wishes to study, whether that be pharmaceuticals, or trends.

In Japan, they still revere the elderly, ancestors, the family, friendship. There is still Obon Day. Their families are not dead, as ours practically are. Will Japan fall prey to the savage capitalism that has broken down American society and have a breakdown of society? I'd say yes, if it absorbs it fully, as we have.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #164)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:51 PM

167. Unfortunately, there is decreasing reverence for the elderly in Japan

Older men are often referred to derisively as "jii-san" (and older women as "baa-san" by younger people.

Families may seem intact on the surface, but the phenomenon that I described earlier about husbands and wives living nearly separate lives is widespread in this country. Divorces are rare, but it's not because marriages are always so happy-- it's mostly due to social stigma associated with divorce, and problems with financial and living arrangements once the marriage is officially ended. So the couple stays together even if they are not really happy with each other. That's one reason why there are so many redlight districts in Japan.

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #167)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:01 PM

171. The greater the influence of capitalism, the less reverence for the elderly. I'd hate to think they

would get as disrespectful as they are here. Here, it's a disgrace.

And by that I don't mean the influence of capitalism upon business. I mean the influence of capitalism upon social ties.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #171)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:06 PM

174. There is another growing social phenomenon in Japan

And that is the single mother. I think that 20 years ago, such a thing would have been very rare, but today, I know at least 7 Japanese women who are single mothers, and they don't seem to be particularly interested in finding another mate.

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #174)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:09 PM

175. So they're trailing behind us, but are definitely there. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #175)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:11 PM

177. That's basically what they say here in Japan

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #177)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:20 PM

179. Unrelated, but here's a very brief explanation of differences between American and Japanese

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #179)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:32 PM

185. Yeah, those differences can make it very frustrating

for a non-Japanese to live in Japan. Very frustrating. There is so much reliance on nuance in social interactions, and even in the written translations that I do, key words (like subjects) are often left out or are not made clear. Not to mention trying to figure out between "honne" (what the other person actually feels) and "tatemae" (what the other person thinks you want to hear, but which he/she may not actually feel).

And of course, there are the "uchimono" (members of a group) and the "yosomono" (outsiders), the latter of whom, as described in your link, are definitely "like flowers to be passed in the garden of life".

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #185)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:46 PM

191. I'd seen a hugely long documentary on the respect required for communicating in Japan

Very interesting. I'm sure Americans come across like bulls in a china shop?

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #191)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:53 PM

193. Maybe we do

I've been here for what seems like forever, and I still have not mastered the art of communicating in Japan *sigh*

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #193)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:07 AM

202. My brother, who now lives in Spain (but was raised here), traveled to Japan for business

He was amazed at the politeness, the cleanliness, how advanced everything is, the aesthetics of food, the willingness to please and avoid clashes or disagreements, and so much more.

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #174)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:03 PM

231. Influenced by us, perhaps?

 

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Response to BlueSky3 (Reply #31)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:30 PM

112. I agree. Too much discourse and "conventional wisdom" is framed by extroverts

The article may not be complete bullshit, but more like a head of cattle itself: A point here, a point there; and a lot of bull in between.

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Response to BlueSky3 (Reply #31)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:56 PM

131. This...is so true!

Being surrounded by people you can't get away from is really hell.



I have always had lots of trouble being near/surrounded by people.

If I'm at a gathering that's crowded or noisy, I need to go off for a while to get away from it.


And my first impulse is always to isolate. I have to almost be forced to socialize with others, which I will do, but for some days after that, I'm exhausted...physically, emotionally, mentally.

It's especially difficult during the Christmas season when there are invites everywhere but I can't find the spiritual energy to go to many functions.

Which causes guilt...and I end up HATING the holidays.

sigh...

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Response to BlueSky3 (Reply #31)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:01 PM

132. I'm with you.

I LIKE being alone, and too many people around makes me uneasy. I guess that's why I live in Alaska (among a lot of other reasons).

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Response to meaculpa2011 (Reply #21)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:28 PM

109. I spent seven years in a town that is widely deemed "a good place to raise kids"

People who had children raved about what a great town it was. Singles had the opposite impression. If you didn't have a spouse and kids, or at least hadn't raised your grown children in the town, people didn't know how to deal with you.

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Response to meaculpa2011 (Reply #21)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:11 PM

151. I've noticed that many lonely people cannot stand their own company

it's weird but, they'd never think to, say, go to a movie alone and just enjoy watching the movie - it's like they need someone else to validate they are having a good time

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Response to Skittles (Reply #151)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 06:22 AM

197. I have driven cross country alone...

several times. I recommend it highly.

Of course, I always return home to family and friends. I've been a free-lance writer for more than thirty years so I guess that being alone for long stretches doesn't bother me. For some, though, it's torture. I feel for them.

And you're right. Many people I know cannot even go for a walk by themselves.

By the way, anyone that knows me would describe me as an extrovert.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:40 AM

22. fascinating article

thank you

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:33 PM

25. Agree with you, Sarah. As Americans, we are expected to ALWAYS be ON.

 

That constant tension, 24/7/365, does not produce the kinds of encounters where people are inclined to let you in, unless you can do something for them. It's a sick society in many ways in which you are either prey, or a predator.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #25)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:27 PM

56. Exactly. Always expected to do things as 1 isolated, helpless unit. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:35 PM

27. Yes. Spot on article.

Isolating individuals at early ages also erodes the need for ties to an extended family and a sense of obligation to others. However, it makes a workforce of individuals that can be treated like widgets--movable and replaceable and particularly advantageous to business in a hypercapitalistic economy.

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #27)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:53 PM

36. Like in "The Killing Fields" - remember that part where

 

those in charge of 're-education camps' for children are using illustrations discouraging the nuclear family, and substituting the party in its place.

Obviously, that example is an extreme one, but I recently saw that film, and your post reminded me of that part of the film. FWIW.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #36)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:33 PM

61. Yes, in this case we've substituted capitalism for family, neighbors, of-the-heart friendships, etc.

A great comparison!

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #27)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:01 PM

38. Isolating them emotionally, you mean? nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #38)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:17 PM

49. Yes. If you are removed from those who could support you,

you learn not to seek assistance from them in times of trouble or just for daily support. Low wages and high pricing of commodities makes it even more difficult to maintain ties like those found in smaller communities with intact extended families. Buying families assuages the guilt of detaching emotionally.

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #49)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:26 PM

54. Well, in much of Europe (where there are better govt social support systems), people also have

closer, tighter relationships with extended family, neighbors, etc. and ask for help despite the better govt social support systems. From borrowing an egg to scramble, to spending time together, to drinking at the neighborhood pub, to asking someone to look in on someone sick at home, ask for a ride, etc. I believe it's the system of each country.

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #27)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 06:39 AM

198. "However, it makes a workforce of individuals that can be treated like widgets"



+1000000000000

Thank you.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:35 PM

28. Americans are also more distrustful and more fearful.

 

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:36 PM

29. Wow. I never get lonely or feel isolated. No wonder my multiple personalities

are so happy all the time.

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Response to Zorra (Reply #29)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:48 PM

33. You totally made my day!

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Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #33)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:52 PM

35. Awesome!

That makes us even happier!

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Response to Zorra (Reply #35)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:23 AM

209. LOL

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:45 PM

30. Corporate dislocation and suburbanization

 

Corporations forever sending employees families scattering over the biggest free market country on earth,........... to live alone in single-family houses,........................ in very low-density suburbs with no sidewalks even............... with no central community focus or main street................... and everybody goes from their car directly to their house.
---------------------------
The "Geography of Nowhere" traces America's evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.
In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation's evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness.
The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle. It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. "The future will require us to build better places," Kunstler says, "or the future will belong to other people in other societies."

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Response to ErikJ (Reply #30)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 12:53 PM

216. Well said.

 

nnt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:56 PM

37. Live alone yet don't feel lonely or isolated. Since I stopped driving, though, feel more connected.

Know most of my neighbors by first name and shared interests, have kept in touch with former co-workers (a monthly lunch get together), am fortunate to live in a smallish walkable city, near a vibrant downtown.

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Response to pinto (Reply #37)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:03 PM

41. Yes, I was happier when I didn't have to drive

and had regular places to walk to.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:02 PM

39. This article is from 2001, but it still rings true

...What is your life these days? Do you wake up in the dark bedroom of your suburban house, dress hurriedly, stumble into the attached garage, strap yourself in the car even before you open the garage door with your remote, and roll out onto the streets alone in your glass-and-steel coffin, headed numbly to your underground parking structure and your cubicle? Maybe you'll drop your kids off at school on the way (your kids who do not know who lives around the corner); maybe you'll pick up breakfast at Jack-in-the-Box on the way to work (giving your order to an electronic grill, inching your car ahead till a plastic-coated hand reaches toward your window with the "food"; maybe you'll watch TV tonight, because it's all you've ever done every night since you started working. Maybe that's your life these days. If you're in America, it probably is. You live alone with your family, and all the burdens of your humanity fall on the three or four of you alone.
(snip)
For seventy years or more the vast right-wing conspiracy has been telling us that we can be happy only in a little separate house surrounded by a moat of grass in a quiet suburb where everyone minds their own business. For seventy years or more they have been telling us that true freedom means driving everywhere alone in a car, that true security means sweating ever longer hours in a little gray cubicle at work, that true fulfillment comes from buying ever bigger television sets and watching ever simpler shows and ever-more-complicated commercials. For seventy years or more they've been telling us that the touch of a stranger brings a shame worse than death, and that the pinnacle of creation is four nervous people fighting over which meaningless TV show to watch on Friday night.


http://www.newcolonist.com/rr11.html

I lived in Japan back in the 1970s, and I was struck by how each neighborhood of the vast megalopolis of Tokyo was a village (and probably was an actual village in pre-modern times) with its own self-contained businesses and neighborhood events. It may have been different for the men, but for the women of the neighborhood, every day brought interactions in the local shops, and the children all attended neighborhood schools that they could walk to. Eventually, if you become a regular customer, you get special favors and introductions to the other regular customers, which in turn led to dinner invitations and people asking if it was all right for them to visit me. (It helped that I could already speak some Japanese, but I have observed the same thing in other foreign societies.)

There's an episode of The Sopranos in which "the boys" visit their counterparts in Italy. As they leave to go home, they pass through a bustling neighborhood where the streets are full of pedestrians and children playing and neighbors shouting across the way. In the next scene, they're driving home from the Newark Airport and looking vaguely disturbed at the bleak suburban landscape.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #39)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:17 PM

50. What a great article and post. Thank you. nt

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #39)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:10 PM

101. Excellent.

Thanks for posting this.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:02 PM

40. Its pretty much true...

When I was in High school I had many good friends. In college I had friends but not as many, when I got a job my amount of friends went down, because we were not supposed to have friends there, we were supposed to work. As time has gone by my high school friends have all gone, off to college or other places..some went into the military, others moved to other states.. in College.. many graduated and went back home to other states, or maybe moved far away or never stayed .. as time grows I have lost more and more friends. I can imagine that those people who retire from work will lose friends as well.

Now there is this new thing, called the "Internet" and social networks. If you have twitter or Facebook sometimes you can reconnect to old friends ..or just find new ones. The other thing is if you hang out on a website like this you meet new people...on line.. but not in your life. If you go to chat websites, you can meet many more people... but most people use anonymous nick names or never use their real names...so they just become that name.. and people sometimes forget there is a real person behind "SnowbunnyUSA!".

Some people who are in poverty don't have the luxury of having access to the internet, so if people needed to get food because they are out, they have to go without because there is no one to contact them. They may not even have a telephone or can afford one. In California you can have a land line and for people who are in a "poor" bracket can get a low cost landline.

Still many people don't know about social services and how to get food if they are hungry. They don't know about places that have pantries and food donations.. or they are too proud to use them, because they always think there are people who are worse off than them..and refuse to get food even though they badly need it.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:06 PM

43. Many Americans are descended from immigrants who came by themselves or with 1 or 2 others

 

One of my grandparents and two of my wife's came to the US alone -- back when no one could afford a return visit.

They never saw any of their relatives again.

Others came with a parent, an uncle or a very few other friends or family. But it was also a one-way trip. They would write for a few years, but the letters become infrequent and then end.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:06 PM

44. DU rec n/t

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:11 PM

46. Just because one lives alone...

Does not mean that one is "lonely". Also, it does not mean that there is something wrong with the people who live alone or that they have some kind of pathology. One could make the opposite argument, that people who need to be with somebody else are the ones with a problem.

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Response to Helen Borg (Reply #46)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:31 PM

58. If that's true, why is "solitary" a punishment in jail? Why is it that putting people by themselves

 

often results in people going completely insane after just a few months. Why is it considered a form of torture to isolate people from human contact?

It may be that the broken one is the one who chooses to stay alone and makes excuses for it.

I agree, just because one "lives" alone doesn't mean lonely. You can and should be comfortable by yourself for a time.

Regardless, the vast majority of people (and a fair number of dogs) in fact do need to be around other people and interact with them, and the effects of depriving them of that are pretty well documented.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #58)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:47 PM

147. we all need to be around people SOME

I don't think anyone here is saying that a completely solitary existence is healthy.

On the other hand, the introverts don't exactly thrive in environments of pot lucks, church picnics, and social clubs.

It is all a matter of degree. Some people need more contact than others.

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Response to Celebration (Reply #147)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 07:01 PM

156. It depends. If they are introverts because they are happy with the solitude, proud of

 

their accomplishments, or need to keep people away...

Focus is the Art of saying No

Then sure. But if they are alone because their government spews fear of others at them 24x7, if they are alone because a school system that treated them like shit 8, or 10, or 12 years taught them that people suck and that it was less painful to withdraw from them, or taught them, wrongly, that "individualism" is how this country was built despite all the laborers and soldiers and families that have sacrificed together to get us here and so they try to go it alone thinking that it is the path to success.

That is a sickness, a pathology that ranges from mild to seriously ill, people who are alone but either shouldn't or don't need to be. The OP sees that here more than other places.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #156)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 07:39 AM

199. anything taking to an extreme can be a pathology

Including the need to be around people because of lack of self confidence, or being uncomfortable in one's own skin to the point of having a fear of just "being".

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #156)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:27 AM

205. I agree with you. I've noticed that a few here have said they prefer to be alone, despite the fact

that that's not the norm for human animals. Human animals neither survive well alone, nor did they attain this high level of evolution alone. I think the reason for the preference for aloneness was best expressed by a poster here who described what work in this country is like. She said something to the effect that (increasingly) people in this system are trained to be competitive and combative, people are overworked, turned into competitors, and there is no peace. So when one leaves work, one is simply exhausted. Similarly (I think) with the whole society. American capitalism has turned us all into competitors, fighting to survive, and that lends itself to fear, exhaustion, stress, which in turn results in more hiding.

I find that myself. When I've lived abroad, I left work feeling energetic, and looking forward to meeting up with others to talk, have coffee, dinner, even play cards. Here? After work I feel completely exhausted and all I want to do is go home and shut the door behind me, get in the sofa and watch TV to "unwind." No need for me to unwind when I've worked abroad. This has happened to me several times already, since I've worked abroad and here in different capacities at different times.

In any case, that's my theory on why a few people in here claim they prefer aloneness, are loners, want to be alone with their dogs, etc.

I think the theory that school affects people adversely might also be true, since the whole society functions the same way, not just the workplace. What do you think?

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Response to Celebration (Reply #147)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:08 AM

203. Some are. :) nt

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #58)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 01:42 PM

219. "Solitary" is not just lack of contact with other people.

Sensory deprivation and lack of contact with anything you like is what makes it solitary. Just because one lives alone does not mean that one does not go out and sees other people or that one does not have a social life! I enjoy living alone, without anyone nagging me about anything, but I also have many friend and colleagues. I just don't live with anyone.

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Response to Helen Borg (Reply #219)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 03:47 PM

224. Perhaps I should have bolded...

 

"I agree, just because one "lives" alone doesn't mean lonely. You can and should be comfortable by yourself for a time. "

But the OP is not talking about just living alone. They are talking about being so alone you turn into a mummy and no one finds you for too long. In this case, living alone really meant living "alone".

You don't have to be in a prison to be in solitary.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #224)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 04:01 PM

225. The article merely discusses the person found dead to make the point of the rest of the

article - that people in American society is increasingly more and more isolated. The first part of the article is about the corpse. The rest is about how isolated individuals are within this society. I don't think it's about the moments we are alone, for example, taking a shower, or reading a book. It's about isolation: few people to count on, little contact with families, acquaintances but no real friends to rely on if things get very bad in one's life, and so on.

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Response to Helen Borg (Reply #46)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:36 PM

65. Worlds greatest discoverers and scientists

 

werent afraid to go it alone into the unknown. Lone mountain men, fur trappers and gold prospectors paved the way for the rest.

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Response to ErikJ (Reply #65)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:47 AM

212. But it was a mission, which is a temporary period of time, and they went elsewhere to do this

This is our life, our country, and this situation is not ending. It's continuing.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:24 PM

53. K and R n/t

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:26 PM

55. I think the only thing worse than forced isolation

Would be forced socialization.


It's hard to thread the needle, that's for sure.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #55)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:32 PM

59. Socialization in places where people are close, tight and warm, is not forced.

I think Americans have grown so used to isolation, many are incapable of functioning except isolated emotionally. Dealing with others at arm's length and on as superficial a level as is conceivably possible. And it's not their fault. It's "they system." The capitalist system has become the system, the religion and the way of life of this country, leaving no room for anything else.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #59)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:50 PM

69. I'm not sure that I agree with the premise, to be honest

The paucity of clinical psychologists in the late 1940s doesn't prove anything except that there were fewer clinical psychologists in the late 1940s. It certainly doesn't prove that they weren't needed, merely that they didn't exist. As a yardstick for societal loneliness, such a measurement it comes up pretty short.

The ultimate American icon is the astronaut: Who is more heroic, or more alone? The price of self-determination and self-reliance has often been loneliness. But Americans have always been willing to pay that price.
Well, that's just outright assumption and argument by assertion, and at best it smacks of a pre-Shepard concept of space exploration. Sounds an awful lot like Toffler's fantasy novel Future Shock, to be honest.

There follows a lot of post hoc musing about the significance of cherry-picked literature and cherry-picked historical touchstones, and the author holds these up as if they prove the opening assumption. And if the author thinks that Moby Dick is an exhortation to self-imposed isolation, then the author hasn't read it.


In short, this is more of the same hair-on-fire doomsaying that's been explicitly going on for 50+ years and going on more generally for a lot longer than that. We're always on the verge of collapse due to isolation and we're always breaking down because of the too-fast advance of isolation-enabling technology.

Spare me.


These are luddite ramblings that should have been abandoned some time prior to the invention of the flush toilet. Incidentally, we used to sit cheek-to-cheek in public shit-houses, voiding our bowels together in a great and warm sense of communal bonding. Maybe we can placate Mr. Marche by first tearing down the walls between bathroom stalls and work from there toward his grand illusion of socialization and its myriad benefits.

Spare me.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #69)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:52 PM

70. I wasn't born here, so I'm commenting on what I noticed and added this article. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #70)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:07 PM

72. So it's simply your own witnessing based on anecdote?

How is that different from any outsider proclaiming that Mexicans are lazy or Russians are alcoholics?

Sorry, but I don't buy it. If a lifelong American went abroad and took it upon herself to advise another country of its cultural shortcomings, we would rightly call that American a meddling, judgmental blowhard.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #72)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:39 PM

87. No. Actually I performed a 25-year study. LOL! omg. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #87)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:44 PM

90. Yeah, that's about what I figured.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #69)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:30 PM

113. you are a skilled straw-man fabricator. that's a compliment. high paying job in today's world. ;^p

 

I think a we, as a people, are in the midst of something that could be called a societal breakdown fueled by income inequality, a burgeoning police state, and a corporate media intent on dividing, confusing, and obscuring.

i like your comparison between knowing and trusting your neighbors and coworkers and "voiding our bowels together". beautiful.

maybe I'm a "hair on fire doomsaying" guy but I don't believe people have ever been as socially isolated as they are in american suburbs today. by "isolated" i don't mean physically, i mean mentally and emotionally. people don't want to connect and be open with eachother out of fear of judgement/rejection/etc...I'm sure the rebuttal to this is that I'm just projecting, and i'm sure not everyone feels this way. But I don't think I'm the only one either.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #55)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:24 PM

182. "the only thing worse than being alone is wishing you were"

yes INDEED

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:32 PM

60. I kinda put myself into forced isolation.

 

If it wasn't for work or school, I'd never leave my home. I'm always afraid people aren't going to like me. Or that I'll get attached and then someone will hurt me (again).

It's an unhealthy attitude and I really wish I could change.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:34 PM

62. The wealthier we are

 

The more isolated we are.

I have lived in both poor and not so poor neighborhoods. When I was in poorer neighborhoods, the neighbors tended to know each other. We watched each others kids and socialized with each other. We did it out of necessity, because we could not afford otherwise.

When I have lived in nicer neighborhoods, the neighbors didn't interact much. Many bordered on rude. The neighbors seemed irritated with each other sometimes.

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Response to AgingAmerican (Reply #62)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:45 PM

67. Very interesting observation. Do you think it's because of the physical separation of homes?

Or is there another reason, you think?

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #67)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:12 PM

74. When I lived in a poor neighborhood

 

We needed each other. We had kids and we would babysit for each other. Nobody really had any money, so we would get together, and bring food and have barbecue and play cards and stuff. We watched over each others kids when they were playing outside. It was out of necessity. The people just seemed friendlier too.

In nicer neighborhoods, we didn't need each other so much. There wasn't really a sense of community. Everyone seemed to have lives outside the neighborhood.

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Response to AgingAmerican (Reply #74)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:23 PM

75. You grew up in a real neighborhood. What a pleasure. Kids nowadays don't go play outside. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #75)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:33 PM

80. My parents couldn't keep us in the house

 

Of course this was back in the 60s and 70s. We were always coming home muddy or dusty, and my mom would throw us right into the bathtub. The house was boring when we were kids. We didn't have video games so we would have to entertain ourselves.

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Response to AgingAmerican (Reply #80)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:37 PM

83. LOL! I also grew up "outside." We went inside to eat, shower, sleep, do homework or if we were in

trouble with mom and dad.

I LOVED being with my friends outside. I can't imagine being denied that. We played every kind of game, talked, it was great.

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Response to AgingAmerican (Reply #62)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:34 PM

81. The cheaper the energy, the less we need other people

When we can adjust the temperature in a room as needed, we don't need to change clothes. When we can call the moving company, we don't need to bother friends. Etc.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #81)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:45 PM

92. A consequence of progress in general, hm? A valid point, too.

 

I had previously amassed a collection of more than 800 videotapes. Now I have the same on the PC. No need to go to the movies any longer. HDTV can be pretty awesome. No need to go to the library, we have the Internet.
[hr][font color="blue"][center]Aspire to inspire.[/center][/font][hr]

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:44 PM

66. I have this wonderful friend who just turned 94.

 

She reaches out to people constantly, is still involved in her church, takes things to people who move into the neighborhood ( something she got me hooked on ), calls regularly, sends cards, travels, listens, talks and talks. What stories she has. Just a priceless soul.

There used to be a lot of card playing going on in these hills, it turns out. And of course social gatherings - barn dances, valentine day dances, community ball games at someone's farm, taking the kids out skating or to movies in the days when not everyone had a car.

She says things changed with tv, that everybody just wanted to sit in by themselves and watch their television. How many of us here remember that shift?

She had one son, he was killed 40 years ago. Last mother's day she got 24 cards.

I think there is a little bit of a lost art form going on in our daily life. I count every day with Gracie a good one, she's the best, a teacher, a friend, a relic, and more in the moment than most folks. But it takes work. Life is not well-lived as the object of being entertained.

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Response to toby jo (Reply #66)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 01:47 PM

68. Good point (about TV). I wonder why we Americans were so willing to isolate ourselves for it?

Let me give you an example. When I lived in Spain, everyone had TVs, huge ones, color, etc. However, people were not glued to them. They preferred (particularly in summer and when the weather allowed) to "hang out" outside, or in the pub. When it was cold, then it was the neighborhood pub or visiting others (which was not at all formal, you just showed up).

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #68)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:07 PM

99. tv is addictive and we are raised on it.

 

No different, really, then if we were raised on an addictive drug.

Going cold turkey on teevee is the best remedy. It's painful, but you fill in the time with other things.

Go for several months, even, and then go back and watch your "favorite" show and you realize how pathetic the programs really are. And they seem to get worse with time. I used to laugh at Frasier. I just started watching it on netflix and all I could think is that it wasn't the slightest bit funny.

But when you are exhausted from work, it's something to numb out your brain before going to sleep.

Now, I just pick and choose, and use netflix just to keep me company when I'm resting or doing something else or to see an old movie I never got to see. But the addiction is gone.

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Response to magical thyme (Reply #99)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:31 PM

115. When my husband and I got home from work in Spain...

we went directly to the pub or to visit friends, or they visited us. It's weird, but here in the U.S., after I leave work, I am literally EXHAUSTED and only want to go home and shut the door to the world. I don't do that in Spain. I can't figure out why, though I have some ideas as to why.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #115)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:45 PM

126. I can't speak to working in Spain, but here in the U.S.

 

I find the physical environment -- thefluorescent lighting and the grey lines of cubicles -- tiring.
The constant sense of competition from "peers" and "underlings" exhausting.
Browbeating bosses exhausting.
The commute in too much traffic exhausting.
The lunch break too short to eat and get out into some fresh air.
Any other breaks too short.

Zero sense of camaraderie. These days in my one part time, dead-end job, we have no respite from each other and have been assembled in such a way that every look on your face is seen -- and potentially reported on -- by one co-worker or another. Forget muttering under your breath -- the sound carries right around the pod to the next-door worker who will report you.

Every keystroke is monitored and every phone conversation reported, randomly listened in on either live or later.

Furthermore, at that job we don't have a cafeteria proper, but just vending machines with overprice junk food, so if you didn't have time to prepare your own food you are stuck eating crap.

I can't get home soon enough. Tv has been replaced with internet and a shot or 2 of lavender mead so I can let it go and get some sleep. I'm counting the days until I can quit that job.

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Response to magical thyme (Reply #126)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:49 PM

129. I think you're right. Work here in the U.S. is a hostile environment that leads to exhaustion and

the environment created is one within which the workers must function as enemies while keeping up a façade of friendship.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:05 PM

71. Anyone ever read Walden n/t

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Response to sailfla (Reply #71)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:31 PM

77. Yup, where he decided to live 2 years out in the wild alone?

I always wondered about that.

There are monks (Christian, Buddhist, etc.) who use isolation.

Here's a New Yorker article I read about isolation, which I found interesting:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/30/090330fa_fact_gawande

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:09 PM

73. My son's experience living for a year in 2 very remote, tiny Indonesian villages.

He's an environmentalist/investigative reporter and back in the late 1990's, he spent a year living approximately 6 months each in 2 primitive, remote rain forest villages on 2 separate Indonesian islands. (Before doing that he had learned one of the most commonly used of the many languages used in Indonesia.) One of the villages was Wae Rebo on Flores Island, which many years later was designated a World Heritage site.
Wae Rebo village, Flores Island, Indonesia

Wae Rebo is one of the most remote villages in Indonesia. It takes 5 hours land transportation from Labuan Bajo town in West Flores to Dintor village, 15 minutes motor cycle from Dintor to Denge village, and lastly the hardest part is 4-5 hours trekking to the mountains with 30-45 continuous degrees of slope.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pra-yudi/7433142632/

My son was the second white man to ever visit the village. The first had been an Allied military "spotter" (like James Michener's fictional Lt. Cable in South Pacific) of Japanese shipping during World War II. The village is in what is called a cloud forest, and has amazing views of the sea below. My son was treated as an honored guest. Some 6 years later, when he attended a Coral Reef Conference held in Indonesia, he extended his trip to visit this village again. This time he was welcomed like a long-lost son! "John is back! John is back!" The housing consists of woven structures which look like hershey's kisses, and typically house at least 4 families. Now that it's a world heritage site, there are regular visitors from "outside". If you look at the link, you'll see how close together the houses are built.

The other village was even more primitive, where the only items the people had not made by hand from their own surrounding jungle were iron pots for cooking and some tshirts/cotton cloth for sarong type clothing. They built their homes out of jungle materials and regularly moved on to new locations and built new shelters. These people had, by our standards, NOTHING. Here was my son, with his camera, recording equipment, and 2 Ivy degrees. They welcomed him warmly but as they got to know him, felt incredibly bad for him and sorry for him, when they learned that he had no wife and no children and when he returned to his home (America) he would continue to live alone. They were moved to anguish for him because they could not in their wildest imaginings comprehend living without the intimate and constant support of extended families and their small tribe of, basically, nomads.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:31 PM

78. Not surprised at all, Americans are bred to be competitive and combative, it's what

the system generally rewards. Sociopathic like behavior is encouraged and seen by some as a wonderful trait. The system feeds on itself and generally rewards often the worst of human traits. IMO loneliness is a byproduct.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #78)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:32 PM

79. I agree they're raised that way. I'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on this.

Do you have a blog, or any writings which you have made public?

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #79)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:22 PM

107. No, just my ramblings on DU. Part of my background is in the social sciences and out of

habit, I guess, I just observe a lot of what is going on in America. I've also worked in other countries and found the people there far more gregarious than in America.

In this country there seems to be a culture of strength in being an island, and many sociopathic CEO types are sadly seen as strong leaders, those able to cut down people, make the hard calls ... because in reality they are sociopaths.

I just find many Americans very combative. We need more cooperation in America and less competition, but under our out of control capitalistic system, strength is often seen in combativeness, ruthlessness and the hoarding of money at the expense of others. It is not a healthy society. I think the factors above contribute to isolation and loneliness for many.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #107)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:28 PM

110. Ok. I also find that in other countries there are introverts (for ex., the Japanese) but they have

closer relationships than we do here in the U.S.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #110)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:40 PM

124. This might not be the best word, but I've heard some describe American behavior as

tribal behavior ... meaning many Americans wall themselves off into cliques. And merging those cliques is difficult, and there are many outsiders to those tribes. I think that exists in all cultures, but in my time I sent in Europe I found a lot more gregarious behavior.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #124)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:46 PM

127. What worries me is that Americans might not even have real cliques? Just the illusions of cliques?

As in too many people have nobody they can rely on. When my dad was in the hospital, my family our friends were there for him. You have no idea how many people had nobody. I'd say most only got a cursory little visit, if that.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #127)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:41 PM

135. And especially in older age. There are IMO doubtless millions of heartbreaking stories that

go untold in America. Maybe we just expect too much at this stage in the development of humanity. We worship $$$$$ in America, but people not so much. It is a perpetual struggle for many.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #135)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:58 PM

137. It's horrifying. nt

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #78)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:54 PM

94. Agree--competition is definitely rewarded & sociopaths take full advantage

I have heard people say (proudly and loudly)--"nobody takes care of you but yourself...!" as if that justifies anything they do.

I was raised by people whose relatives grew up on farms that had been in the family for generations. They practiced a caring for each other that also included their neighbors and peripheral associates. My parents were such softies they even cared for people they didn't know whatsoever. I was taught this so it's a hard thing to give up. But often in the past I found myself investing in friends that were really just competitors. I gave that up.

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Response to marions ghost (Reply #94)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:49 PM

136. "But often in the past I found myself investing in friends that were really just competitors."

You put that so well that I'm going to use that sentence. It's perfect.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #136)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 07:02 PM

157. With ya

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:37 PM

82. I think MSM fear mongering has played a role in people isolating themselves.

Personally, I've always felt that people only interact with each other when they need something from someone or another. Whether it's emotional or financial support, or providing a service. If they don't need you for something, you don't hear from them.

I treat it like it's a good thing. You know, the old no news is good news mantra? When I don't hear from family or friends, I know they are all doing fine.

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Response to notadmblnd (Reply #82)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:37 PM

84. That's such a good point. I hadn't thought of how the MSM instills fear which leads to further

isolation. Thank you.

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Response to notadmblnd (Reply #82)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:55 PM

95. Yup - everything is to be feared. Plus, the self-defense industry

never lets you forget about the bad men waiting around every corner to hurt you. It's another form of marketing.

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Response to notadmblnd (Reply #82)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:57 PM

97. Except then all you get is to share the problems...

I like to be with people who want nothing from me but friendship. They are out there, but you have to look hard for them.

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Response to notadmblnd (Reply #82)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:36 PM

119. Fear-mongering, yes!

This whole notion of "don't let your kids play outside--there are child molesters on the loose" or "Don't go downtown, you might get mugged" or "Drive instead of walking, so you're safe from Them."

Guess what, there have ALWAYS been child molesters and muggers. I remember notorious cases from my childhood and adolescence. But nobody seemed to be on 24/7 fear alert.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:43 PM

89. Rugged individualism!

The U.S. has never really been famous for collectivism or egalitarianism. There was a lot of common cause and social cohesion during WWII that lingered for some years of prosperity, but that all started to break down with Vietnam, the social movements of the 60s, end of the military draft, financialization of the economy in the 80s leading to decades of offshoring and automation of millions of jobs for the benefit of CEOs and Wall Street, competition heating up for the jobs remaining, etc. I think smaller countries with more homogeneous populations have a much stronger history of sticking together, often out of necessity.

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Response to moondust (Reply #89)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:29 PM

111. Do you think the more successful a country is, the more broken down its social ties?

Or do you think maybe there's more to it than that?

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #111)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:36 PM

144. I don't know about "country."

I'm not even sure how to define a "successful" country. The greatest number of wealthy individuals? The least number in poverty? Overall quality of life? GDP?

As for individuals, the more wealth some people accumulate the more they withdraw from society into their own private bubbles of luxury and privilege, egotism and elitism. At least in the U.S., they may virtually never have to interact with average Americans--who are now left to fight each other over the crumbs. The situation is not particularly conducive to social cohesion and gets worse over time as the crumbs continue to disappear.

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Response to moondust (Reply #144)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 12:59 PM

217. Good post.

 

Inequality, social stratification, and insecurity of the general population (wages not keeping up with the cost of living, for one) certainly all play a big role in America's lack of social cohesion, relative to other countries.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Reply #217)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 03:36 PM

222. Absolutely. If we all got together, we could write the definitive book on why our society is broken

And use it as a reference to fix everything that is broken. And there is so much broken!

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Response to moondust (Reply #144)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 03:35 PM

221. Too true. It breaks down society. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #111)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 12:43 PM

214. There's more to it than that. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:44 PM

91. I guess I'm the oddball. I like my life the way it is.

 

I never feel lonely nor do I crave company. I love the solitude and the peacefulness. I have many, many opportunities to socialize every day if I choose but there's nothing I like better than to curl up with a book in front of the fire during the winter or on the hammock on a fine summer's day.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #91)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:14 PM

103. No you don't. You think you do, but that's the real tragedy.

Didn't you hear? You're oppressed by this cold technological pseudo-society of ours, locked in the pen of your life and forced to subsist on artificial proxy relationships.

I know that you think you're content, but that's just the illusion of contentment. You'll never be happy until you realize how sad and lonely you are.


See how it works?

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Response to Orrex (Reply #103)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:31 PM

114. The question about "confidants" seems relevant

Even if you only have interactions with a few people, do you have someone to confide it? That would be a confidant. Someone you trust so much that you would tell them your fears and hopes and dreams? Someone you can honestly say you have a relationship of mutual dependency with? If you needed them, they'd come in the middle of the night (and you wouldn't hesitate to call on them in the middle of the night?)

There are many people now in this country who have no significant others that qualify as confidants.
It's a good indicator of social isolation.

We can't pretend this is not a problem. It's a key factor in health care these days.

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Response to marions ghost (Reply #114)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:18 PM

161. I have no confidante. I write in my journal about hopes, fears, dreams.

 

I am married though and have children. I also have close family nearby so if I needed someone, I have those who I can call in the middle of the night (not that I ever have).

Not to diss my husband (he's a love) but he's not into long, emotional discussions about hope, fear and dreams so my journal fills that gap nicely. Nay, more than nicely, its absolutely an intrinsic part of me. I would never burden my children with my inner fears and thoughts.

In the end, I believe, we are alone in our journey. We have companions who support us along the way but relying on anyone else to have our answers for us, is naive.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #161)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:33 PM

163. Yup, when we die, only we die for ourselves. However, having a confidant used to be a vital part

of friendship in the U.S., as it is elsewhere, and that has nothing to do with the fact that when we die, we die. Friendship was a brotherhood or sisterhood, a friendship that felt like family ties, something deep enough that you would give your life for your friend. That's been lost, and it seems like an oddity now. Now we assign the name, "friend" to someone who is an acquaintance, because that's basically all anyone has.

It's a loss, much like the loss of the admiration and respect that Americans once held for seniors. That's now gone. Seniors are thrown on the conveyor belt of nursing homes, not listened to, not respected. A lot of things have been lost with the breakdown of social closeness in the U.S.

The way that was done was by insisting that people do not deserve anything until and unless they're measured by the capitalism measuring stick. Can they or do they contribute? If yes, then they're worthwhile, if no, then they're useless.

It's but one iota of the social breakdown though. There's so much more to the social breakdown that has taken place in the U.S. thanks to right wing ideology.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #161)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 08:39 AM

200. I don't think of it as "others having answers"

I think of it as sharing yourself with others, and they with you, to the point that you find your own answers.

I am grateful to my parents for sharing some of their inner lives with me, and I felt it as a gift, not a burden. My father especially, saw no need to be protective and parental after the kids reached adulthood. He made a conscious effort to shuck off the parental role and just become a friend. It was a clear decision that he stated openly at one point. In a way it freed him up to grow too. But I realize that kind of interaction may feel too "close" and is not for everybody. Certainly it can go wrong if (for ex) parents use their children as emotional receptacles, but I'm not talking about something that extreme. Just friendship on an equal level.

The fear of some kind of abuse happening often keeps people from having closer ties with others. It can be a tricky balancing act. There is no right or wrong in this quest for positive give & take relationships. People do different things to cope with life and as long as it's a positive adaptation, that's fine. But we are talking about a significant segment of the population having problems because of the lack of fulfilling, supportive relationships with others. Social isolation is a growing phenomenon and it does have societal causes and implications. The ability to connect with others may have to be taught and encouraged in a society where trust is hard to find.

I guess I don't really believe we are alone in our journey. I think it's sad the way we are losing a sense of community and connectedness. It doesn't need to be burdensome. It can be 100% positive to feel a part of something larger than yourself.

NNTR--I'm just expounding on what you said. Nothing personal.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #103)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:36 PM

121. Once I realize how sad and lonely I am...what is the next step?

 

Should I buy a dog?

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Response to Orrex (Reply #103)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:38 PM

122. I can enjoy solitude for days at a time, but eventually it depresses me

--so gradually that I don't realize that I'm getting depressed--but one day I wake up and realize that I need to get out of the house.

Self-imposed solitude is one thing, but there's a reason why solitary confinement is considered a punishment. The term "stir crazy" comes from what happens to people in solitary confinement, the slang term for which is "stir."

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #122)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:42 PM

165. Exactly. Here's a good article about isolation and what it does...

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Response to Orrex (Reply #103)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 07:03 PM

158. That's the way I read it.

I absolutely abhor these one-size-fits-all "philosophies." It's an insult to individualism. "If you're not like *I* say you should be, you're sadz. No, really, you're very sadz."

Some of the loneliest times in my life were when I was around lots of other people and some of the happiest, calmest times in my life -- times when I evolved the farthest and deepest, were times when I was alone.

An added note: I've never seen this particular poster post ANYTHING positive about America or Americans. Goddess knows we have our problems and guilt to last an eternity but we DO have SOME things that are positive. Anyone who can NEVER find ANYTHING positive to say about Americans or America is just as suspect as those who ONLY see positive. Both points of view show an unrealistic bias.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:57 PM

96. Some of us just are not very social

There is nothing wrong with that.

Its only when that isolation causes one distress that it becomes an issue.

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Response to LostOne4Ever (Reply #96)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:08 PM

100. Not the same as being "social" necessarily

--it's about feeling connected, supported, and in synch--you are there for each other--even if only with a small number of people.

Quality, not quantity.

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Response to LostOne4Ever (Reply #96)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:16 PM

104. What I mean - in the countries I lived in, even introverts had tight relationships with family

and a few really close, close friends. I think it's not so much the difference between individuals, as it is a society as whole forcing separation and isolation. There's a huge difference between introversion and a society of social isolation.

And of course, as in everything in life, there are the exceptions that prove the rule.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:12 PM

102. exactly right

After 66 years in America my observations of this culture co-insides exactly with
Sarah's . In this culture being social ie. ( Socialism ) is Communism , Socialism or Marxism .
We are a very anti social society .

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Response to geretogo (Reply #102)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:44 PM

166. I'd be very interested in hearing more of your observations. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #166)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 01:29 PM

218. observations

Hello . If one travels to Europe especially the Nordic and Mediterranean countries the difference in cultures is immediate .
Every day people walk the streets and are not afraid to say hello and recognize you as a fellow human being .
They gather in open spaces in the town with lunches to sit and talk . They move slower and take time to enjoy simpler
things like good food at the many out side cafe tables , art works , shopping at local businesses not Corporate chains .
Here in America you can go to many towns and cities and you notice the rush to buy the latest whatever , grab some lousy fast food
and then rush home . I went back to a small town in Pennsylvania where I grew up and I could not find one person on the streets any where . They stay isolated in their home and very few know their neighbors . I think this is prevalent in most suburbs across America .
In America you have value only to the extent to what you can buy . The culture of America is money . He that has the most money rules . Over two hundred years ago the French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville commented in his book " Democracy in America " .The
thing he noticed most in observing the people was that most conversations included the words-- Money , cash , how much ,or cost .
This is just one persons observations .

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Response to geretogo (Reply #218)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 03:23 PM

220. Thank you for taking the time to type this out. I feel exactly the same way.

I also feel it's not fair that Americans have to live this way. I often think it's like mice scrambling, and it saddens me.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:18 PM

105. Oddly, the article you link is about Facebook and loneliness and does not cite

 

Americans as the most lonely nor does it compare any nation to another at all. Facebook is of course international.
So your own conclusion about Americans is just your own worldview. On a list of countries with the most suicide, the US is at 33. Japan, where in thread you claim people have great family and friendship ties that Americans simply never have, is number 10 among nations for suicide. The numbers are more than twice our rates. Also higher than the US, much of Europe, France, Finland, Russia, Belgium, and along with Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and others out place the US for suicide rates. Of course loneliness and suicide are not linked at all, and more suicide just means they have better friendships and more close extended families.....

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #105)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:19 PM

106. It includes Facebook in the article and title, but isn't exclusively an analysis of Facebook

It's an analysis of isolation in the U.S. Facebook is not improving that. If anything, it is adding to the problem.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #106)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:33 PM

116. No, the title is 'Is Facebook Making Us Lonley'. No nation is compared to another

 

and nothing in the article concludes that Americans are the most isolated and lonely, the article has nothing to do with international comparisons. At all. That's your take on it.
What do you think about the suicide rates in countries you insist have close friends and families, which you also claim Americans do not have? Does Japan have a suicide rate double our own because they are so much less lonely, do your think? I sure don't.
There is nothing in the article that makes the conclusions you made into the title of the piece, it is simply not in the article.
Loneliness is a human condition, not a national trait.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #116)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:35 PM

118. Did you read only the title? Or did you read the entire article's assertion as to isolation in the

U.S.?

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #118)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:58 PM

138. It's about modern society, it is for a US audience

 

but it is not about how America is more or less lonely than other places, it is about how social media impacts social activity.

Why do you think countries you believe are so much less lonely and isolated than the US have much higher rates of suicide? Is it possible that the 'close ties' some think are positive are actually stifling methods of social control, preventing happiness rather than causing it?

Feelings of loneliness and isolation are human states, not national traits.

In my experience, the most lonely of humans are those who are part of a diaspora. Rich or poor, these are the people who feel that isolation the very most. It does not really matter which country they miss, but when a culture is largely removed from one place by force or by politics and winds up in another, that is a special sort of isolation. America is made up of diasporas. Both literal and personal. Generations of them, waves and returns of them.
That's probably not simple enough for DU, but it is something to ponder.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #138)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:05 PM

140. Within all societies are extroverts, introverts, loneliness and happiness, but all societies are

different, and the U.S. has a lifestyle, society, and day-to-day life that involves isolation.

When you say that the U.S. is made up of diasporas, what precisely in the article are you attempting to defend against?

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #140)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:46 AM

211. Defend against? This is not combat, kid. I will not combat you. Sorry.

 

The US is made of displaced people from other places to a great degree. I read your post which says you live here but don't like it so you only work and shut the door, then you marvel that you experience isolation. Open the door is my advice.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #211)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 03:37 PM

223. You apparently have not read through the threads here. You should. nt

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #105)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:41 PM

125. Suicide is what Japanese people do instead of murder

or at least it was until recent times. When I lived there, the suicide reports took up the space on newscasts that is devoted to murder reports in the U.S. Also, Japan has a historical tradition of suicide as the best solution to personal failure.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:36 PM

120. I feel so guilty about being happy.

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Response to deaniac21 (Reply #120)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:39 PM

123. Only about that? How about feeling guilty about not having read the article? :) nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:46 PM

128. I think many Americans think if a stranger starts talking to them, that


person either wants to get something from them, or is a predator.

I blame the MSM for a lot of it. Lots of fear-mongering, all the time.

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Response to raccoon (Reply #128)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 03:51 PM

130. Yes, and on the other hand, they think if they say "hi" to someone daily, that's a true friend,

and count that person among their list of "friends," when that person is only someone you encounter frequently.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 04:37 PM

134. I live in Ecuador.

It is ALL about family and friends here. Mostly family. Yeah, a lot of folks don't have a whole bunch of material wealth here but over folks are happy warm and welcoming. Sure there are cell phones, TV and PC's. But absolutely no resemblance to the USA.

During holidays people are in the streets with friends and family celebrating. Being down here has really warmed my spirit.

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Response to Puglover (Reply #134)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:27 PM

143. I have thought about moving out of America, if I can ever get enough money

I am very lonely sometimes. I heard it's different in a lot of countries.

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Response to shenmue (Reply #143)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:40 PM

145. I'm sorry you are lonely.

It's not pleasant.

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Response to Puglover (Reply #145)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:01 PM

148. Thank you.

It may get better if I can adopt a couple of cats. I was happy when I had a dog.

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Response to shenmue (Reply #143)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:13 PM

178. I'm so sorry. Maybe it helps to hear that this is a nationwide problem nt

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Response to shenmue (Reply #143)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:34 PM

186. I am in the same boat as you.

 

I want to move to a country that is very sociable and welcoming to people, not cold and aloof like here in the US.

I thought about moving to France or Italy to experience that kind of lifestyle.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 05:04 PM

139. K&R

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:05 PM

149. When you are an introvert in a society that expects you to be an extrovert, it's tough.

I prefer my own company most of the time. Plus I live in a place where people of my political persuasion and atheism are downright HATED. These are not people I want to associate with. So they can leave me the hell alone.

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Response to alarimer (Reply #149)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:46 PM

155. Pretty much this

America is wired for extroverts and a lot of America is wired for conservative Christian extroverts.

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Response to alarimer (Reply #149)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:20 PM

162. There's a difference between introversion and social isolation. Look at the Japanese...

they, as a culture, tend toward introversion. However, they have very closely-knit family ties, neighborly ties, and village-like ties.

All nations have introverts and extroverts, but that doesn't mean all nations are identical. This country's systems break down the strongest and most deep social structures so that there are few ties between people, and people are isolated and alone. It's a sort of dystopia.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #162)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:36 PM

187. But the thing is, I pretty much hate my fellow Americans.

With the exception of a few misfits like me here in this town and people on this board, I pretty much think Americans suck as a whole.

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Response to alarimer (Reply #187)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:45 PM

190. Well, maybe it's the system of life here that you detest, and the way people are affected nt

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Response to alarimer (Reply #149)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 04:54 PM

230. Fumesucker and Alarimar, you are right.

 

That is my situation. I have nothing in common with the people around me for the same reasons you two cite.

See post #194 which won't tell you anything you don't already know.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 06:32 PM

153. This is a well commented op, and a needed one.

Would I be a bit off by suggesting “Americans are the loneliest, most isolated people” by design?

It is to the benefit of corporations and power elite to keep workers and the public insecure. It permeates our lives. The greater the insecurity, the higher the degree of isolation.

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Response to fleabiscuit (Reply #153)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:16 PM

160. I agree. The greater the insecurity, the higher the isolation. And may I add:

The greater the insecurity and isolation, the greater the helplessness, and the more easily people are controlled and taken advantage of.

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Response to fleabiscuit (Reply #153)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 12:51 PM

215. No, I think you make a good point here

 

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 07:59 PM

159. And here I thought it was just me . . . . . n/t

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:00 PM

170. Keep this in mind when you are discussing the best ways...

 

...to mock someone, ostracize them, belittle them, or shun them. We have more power in social connections than we realize, and (given the state of things presently) probably more than we should but we're often not aware of just how much that is.

It also makes one wonder if perhaps a simple systemic lack of ability to safely socialize isn't the cause of all the 'creepy' people we hear oh-so-much about. Perhaps we should try being a bit less judgmental. This shows that we're all hurting, no matter who we are.

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Response to Shandris (Reply #170)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:03 PM

172. I agree with you. The whole country is hurting. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:05 PM

173. Thanks for this thread...!

 

I'm alone but not lonely and pretty certain that when I die, it will take several days for people to even know I'm missing. Maybe a week or more.

Well, I have more to say but cannot continue now.

Great topic, thanks again

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Response to WhaTHellsgoingonhere (Reply #173)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:11 PM

176. I'm so sorry. Perhaps there's something we can do.

Thank you.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #176)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:42 PM

188. Oh, I know it sounds sad so let me explain (of course, you may still be sad for me :)

 

I'm young, 47, and active, but my family is in California and the only people I talk to daily are on Facebook, non of whom live near me. After about a week or more, my Mom would get around to calling me. But I live in an apartment building in Chicago and someone would suspect something (don't want to get graphic) and not because we see each other often, either. I live in a building with 23 units and rarely see anyone!

More to your point, you're right, this society is absolutely sick. I work in mental health. I'm convinced the way we live contributes to many mental health issues beyond depression. Our society is as bipolar/manic-depressive as people I know.

Interestingly, my mother is Italian and lived in a house with 3 generations. Her grandparents spoke Italian, her parents both languages, but the kids only English. She said she hated it and was happy to leave for the suburbs. I, on the other hand, hate suburbs. I love, for instance, public transportation. I love that we pack ourselves in trains and buses and "violate" each other's personal space, but no one cares. I often just look around and see everyone on the crowded train just doing their own thing with someone standing above them or very close next to them.

I romanticize the bits and pieces of what I hear about other cultures and draw conclusions that the Italians or Spanish got it right. I have no idea, I just know we are sick, and our society is sickening, and I believe there is causality.

As for me, I used to live with people, but it never worked out. It's about me. I can go on and on about me, but I won't. But I am a product of cruel, capitalist society that I detest. So in that respect, I'm just as messed up as our society, so I'm not hard on myself. I just work with others and it seems to be soothing.

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Response to WhaTHellsgoingonhere (Reply #188)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:44 PM

189. Thank you for explaining. It's definitely a societal problem. nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:21 PM

180. Another thing: being an outlier (GLBT for example) is impossible in many "close" communities

 

Praising neighborhoods, family, and small communities overlooks the very real problems outliers have in such conformist environments.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #180)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:22 PM

181. Yes, but I've heard that being an outlier can create a closely-knit group?

I forgot where I read that, but it was an LGBT essay or something.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:28 PM

183. If you have close friends, you can organize

Our corporate overlords don't want us to organize.

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Response to Dirty Socialist (Reply #183)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:47 PM

192. That's exactly the #1 thing the corporatists don't want us to do - organize nt

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 09:30 PM

184. I know this is true, but I absolutely

love living alone, if you call 3 dogs living alone. When I want company, I go to an event or call a friend. I'm with people lots at work and volunteering.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 10:03 PM

194. It depends on the people I'm around.

 

Sure I can exchange pleasantries with the checker at Walmart and make them smile and joke a little.

But the people here are not interested in the things I'm interested in like art and classical music and culture & some of the things going on in the world.

Here it's about Jesus, the flag and guns and football. Oh and hating Obama. They are terrified of anyone who is not just exactly like them and doesn't hate the same people they hate
"To hate all the people your relatives hate, you've got to be carefully taught" -- Rodgers and Hammerstein

They hate diversity, cuss out "them Mezzcans" and anybody else who is not white Anglo-Saxon rigid non-alcohol-drinking Baptist, or similar isolating church.

So I have nobody to talk to about anything I care about except husband and I have given up on getting my friends in the cities to come see me. They're busy working or taking care of elderly parents, or their car won't go that far. I love to cook but can't get anyone here for Thanksgiving or any other time.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Mon Mar 17, 2014, 11:44 PM

195. K and R. Interesting ideas.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:31 AM

196. The outsourcing of manufacturing has contributed greatly to this isolation.

When manufacturing and good jobs leave a community the foundation of life and relationships is undermined. Adult offspring must leave the community in search of a livelihood. This often leaves parents, children and siblings separated by thousands of miles. Schools close because they are underfunded due to the loss of revenue. Community ties are broken, often for life. These conditions contribute to isolation.

This high profit at any cost is undermining the very foundation of life in this nation. I know, my home state is Ohio which has been especially hard hit by these trade deals and outsourcing. I have seen this up close and personal. It is heartbreaking.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #196)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 08:58 AM

201. Thanks for the awesome post. Job loss does destroy extended families, friends, neighborhoods,

closeness, well-being, health, everything. Job loss on a mass scale happened during the Great Depression. Nowadays we're having a worse situation. Our jobs were sent abroad, and the powers that be (corporate, just plain mega-rich, and their right wing and fundy lackeys) joined hands in corruption, lies and bankrupting our nation. Our country is in bad shape. I think without a massive overhaul, this will continue.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Reply #201)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:02 AM

207. I think some "massive overhaul" or other is bound to happen -- rather sooner

 

than later -- exactly because this condition cannot continue much longer. We've had
it up to our necks. And some of the main people responsible for this condition are the
upper 1%, who, to a large extent, are made up of sociopaths in high positions. They
are the main cause.

And many thanks for having brought up this topic of Americans being the loneliest
people. Not many have noticed this, and the few who have possibly lack the courage
to say so. Your courage has caused quite a few people to become more aware, and to
open up and let go with what may have been pent up for a long time.

Thanks again for your great post.

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Response to Cal33 (Reply #207)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:44 AM

210. Yes. I think too many of us became like cattle, just moving forward on to the slaughter -

feeling helpless and without recourses.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:18 AM

204. Past Histories and Experience

 

All of us, or our families all came from somewhere else. A majority due to some kind of strife, financial, political, or violence. The "Stranger in a Strange land" will make a lot of people withdraw and be more careful and isolated due to fear. Others from very controlling Governments around the world learned to keep low profiles as a survival instinct.

Then add in the individual experience history and you may have a dual layer of isolation as a protection mechanism.
I myself was molested as a young boy and do not do well with other Males and cannot and do not allow touching other than handshakes. Add in a trip to Iraq and now I am not a big fan of crowds. So I am isolated in those respects, but I have wonderful children that make life crazy, busy, and a joy. Isolated, a little. Alone or lonely not in the least.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 04:18 PM

227. Recommended.

I agree.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 04:30 PM

228. Thank you for posting this.

It's one of the best articles on the nature and pitfalls of total connectivity I've ever read. I could relate to it on so many levels.

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:41 PM

232. k&r for the truth, however depressing it may be. n/t

-Laelth

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