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Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Lonely American Just Got a Bit Lonelier - New York Times

I find this story simply sad. To a large extent it rings true because American friendships tend to be shallow. It's hard to call someone a friend if they won't reply to your e-mail, or simply don't have time to go cycling, sailing, or even simply shoot the breeze. All of which makes me all the more grateful to the close friends and confidants that I have.

The real problem, however, is in the public realm. People who have no friends or close confidants are much less likely to be willing to invest in public infrastructure, in social security, in public education (why educate other people's kids?) or see the world in a broader realm outside that of their limited social circles. This breakdown of social circles cannot help but become a tragedy.

A recent study by sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona found that, on average, most adults only have two people they can talk to about the most important subjects in their lives — serious health problems, for example, or issues like who will care for their children should they die. And about one-quarter have no close confidants at all.

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