When I was a kid, I can remember accompanying my father to the local newstand every Sunday morning to purchase the Sunday edition of the New York Times. It would take my father most of the day (but usually several days) to plow through “all the news that’s fit to print”.
Today, I usually get my news online, but I still enjoy buying a paper or two on the weekend. Lately, I’ve found the Weekend Edition The Wall Street Journal to be a very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning.
Here are a couple of items that I found particularly interesting (I think I may have missed my calling as some sort of sociologist)…..
After reading this, it appears that those of us who live alone are “the lucky ones”. We may not be able to afford to drive a fancy car, or travel the globe, but appartently if we can afford to live alone we are in the same cultural neighborhood. This is something more and more people appear to be striving for – an opportunity to escape the noisy world and live in solitude.
We live in a society in which the concept of marriage and family is eroding as quickly as the polar ice caps. Recent reports indicate that more and more elderly parents are moving in with their children as the economy continue to sour. How long before the 20-60 y/o crowd can no longer to afford living alone?
As humans, we are social creatures and therefore in need of company. Etyomologists would point out that words such as “companionship”, “community” and “company” all begin with “com” which in Latin means “with”. We break bread with companions (com + “pain”/bread), we live in communities (common unions) and we work for companies – a word which can be dated back to the mid-12th century as a “Large group of people”.
But life in America today does anything but celebrate “with-ness”. Politically, our nation is as divided as ever. Socially, it is hard to believe we could be more diverse. So it shouldn’t be surprising to read that more and more people are seeking an “individualistic” lifestyle and choosing to “go solo”. The author points out that this is the growing trend among those who can afford it. But can we truly make it on our own? That leads me to the next piece…
Here again we see that human interaction – in the form of spending time with our teens – will better prepare them for life on their own. Basically, we need to rely on others, so that we don’t need to rely on others. This appears to be an oxymoron, but yet the author’s claim seems to ring true. We live in an age when parents are both busy with their own careers, and rely on dropping the kids off at school, aftercare, sports, etc. and think that in 18-22 years they should know all there is to know about making it this world on their own. Sure, they may become book smart, but in reality, we are finding that today’s teens are unable to think critically – perhaps because they are not called to apply what they have learned in a real life setting. There is the adage that “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”. While I am not about to debate the veracity of those two statements, I think it does point out that there must be a connection between learning and doing. This is lacking among today’s teens.
Are we heading down a dangerous path? I hear stories about people who still live in villages in Italy who gather in the town square every evening to converse with each other in community. While it may be on the decline, there are also those villagers in Ireland who gather at the local pub at the conclusion of each day.
I don’t propose to know which side is right. While I live a rather hermit-like existence, I find myself drawn incredibly close to those who share my lifestyle. The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”…yet here we are thousands of years later thinking we can debunk that theory.
Maybe we have become so brazen as to think we can thrive in an individualistic society because we are fooling ourselves into thinking that just because we live alone we are “going solo”. How many people are sitting alone in their houses/apartments right now glued to facebook or twitter (or maybe even blogs such as this!)?
This fairly recent field of what I like to call “Solo-ology” is coming to the forefront again. In 2000, Robert D. Putnam published a book entitled, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Now, Susan Cain has published: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I have no doubt we will be hearing more about this book in the weeks to come.
They say that women tend to remember everything, because they tie events to specific emotions. If this is true, my fond memories of accompanying my father each Sunday to buy a newspaper leads me to believe that living a life in “common union” with others is probably better than trying to “go solo”.