It seems, as though Americans are becoming more lonely by the decade. In this report by researchers at Duke University, more and more people are without close friends who they can rely upon, talk to, relieve stress with, or just have fun. In fact, nearly 25% of people said they had "zero" close friends. While the whys of this rather sudden drop in friends (in 1985, most respondents reported having three friends they described as close) were not probed, it seemed fairly certain that America's circle of friends is closing down.
So what? you may ask. Why does this matter? I have some friends, or I don't need friends. Whatever your response, you should be concerned. Having stable social networks is a key, in my mind, to a healthy functioning society. And the possible list of factors that are causing this isolation (working longer, marrying later, longer commutes, the internet) are all factors also have a hand in creating an unhappy society. No matter how big the GDP is, regardless how prosperous financially or materially a nation is, if you neglect your social interactions, then eventually you will collapse. Why? Because you stop caring for one another, it becomes a "me-versus-the world" attitude, life degenerates into unhealthy competition between people. Remember, we are a social animal, like it or not.
This touches on a broader scope of points I would like to investigate, looking at a renewed social outlook of our nation, our politics, and our direction. But in order for any social program to work the citizens must care about what happens to one another. And a good way to start that is by having close friends.
So go out and hug your friend today, or make a new friend, or even say hi to a neighbor or a stranger on a bus. Make today, and every day, Won't You Be My Neighbor Day.