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Sun Aug 25, 2013, 12:01 PM

article does NOT live up to its title

"Here's why ..."

So I read through the whole article and they never say why.

Is it because we do not feel as cohesive as past generations who pulled together to fight "common threats" like Nazis and Communists?

Is it because of television and automobiles and shopping malls and population growth?

Television gives us a different type of society (and also probably teaches different messages). In pre-television society, people went to large PUBLIC events for entertainment - concerts, lectures, shows, even movies. Now with things like television, cable television, DVD players people can avoid the public and get their entertainment at home. Then too, the entertainment was probably higher quality. The public lecture about substantive issues, versus a TV show/movie with explosions and sex and fist fights.

Automobiles have more and more replaced PUBLIC transportation. Pre 1945, many people were probably still walking and taking trains. When you walk to a local store, you pass by neighbors on a regular basis. When you get in your car and drive to the big grocery store or wal-mart or strip mall, you are isolated from neighbors in a metal box. At the store, you are surrounded mostly by strangers who have also come from miles away. Even if you have a friendly interaction that person remains a stranger who you will not likely see again for many months if you even remember them, versus seeing the same people maybe multiple times a week at the local store.

Maybe population growth is less of a factor, but as cities become bigger, it seems to me one of the primary characteristics of the big city is that people are strangers in them. Again, perhaps because of the automobile. You do not work in your neighborhood with your neighbors. Everyone gets in a metal box and drives for half an hour to work with strangers and then drives home. True, if you stay at a job for a time, then people do not remain strangers, (and more job mobility is another factor here). But it is hard to have the interactions or connections outside of work if you live far apart. If I am driving 20 minutes from the east and my work-buddy is driving 25 minutes from the south, then to ever do anything outside of work requires a fair amount of effort.

Cell phones seem to add to this. With a cell phone you do not have to interact with the public - with the people who happen to be occupying the space near to you. Instead you can be on the phone, or texting with somebody who matters, some part of your little circle of family/friends.

Many of these things were discussed in the great book "The Poverty of Affluence" by Paul Wachtel, which unfortunately was never mass marketed.

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