I'm terrible at being alone. Terrible. I like being around big crowds of people all the time. My high social needs are actually a family joke. More than a day or two by myself in this house writing and I'm calling up random people whining for a lunch date.
Jonah, who is my genetic twin, complained that he didn't have any playdates last week. His friends went away on vacation, so the three of us were by ourselves for too long. A friend called him yesterday to find out how he liked his break. He said that he felt like he was in the middle of the ocean and his only friends were the whales. I guess Ian and I were the whales.
Two recent articles consider loneliness and single life.
The Atlantic has just published an in-depth report on the subject that starts with explaining how loneliness has become an epidemic, with more Americans than ever living alone (27 percent) and a staggering 25 percent of Americans in 2010 saying they have no one to confide in — an increase from 10 percent in 1985. The author, Stephen Marche, wonders whether Facebook is contributing our lonliness.
In the New Yorker, Nathan Heller wonders why so many Americans live by themselves.
Klinenberg’s data suggested that single living was not a social aberration but an inevitable outgrowth of mainstream liberal values. Women’s liberation, widespread urbanization, communications technology, and increased longevity—these four trends lend our era its cultural contours, and each gives rise to solo living. Women facing less pressure to stick to child care and housework can pursue careers, marry and conceive when they please, and divorce if they’re unhappy. The “communications revolution” that began with the telephone and continues with Facebook helps dissolve the boundary between social life and isolation. Urban culture caters heavily to autonomous singles, both in its social diversity and in its amenities: gyms, coffee shops, food deliveries, laundromats, and the like ease solo subsistence. Age, thanks to the uneven advances of modern medicine, makes loners of people who have not previously lived by themselves. By 2000, sixty-two per cent of the widowed elderly were living by themselves, a figure that’s unlikely to fall anytime soon.
I'm not sure that the growing single-ness of America is really a problem. I mean, for me, it would be a problem, but I recognize that I'm a freak.