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The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In today's world, it is more acceptable to be depressed than to be lonely-yet loneliness appears to be the inevitable byproduct of our frenetic contemporary lifestyle. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, one out of four Americans talked to no one about something of importance to them during the last six months. Another remarkable fact emerged from the 2000 U.S. Ce ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Beacon Press (first published 2009)
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M0rningstar
An even-toned book on a timely and important topic, The Lonely American advances a thoughtful thesis: our efforts at stepping back from the light-speed hubbub of our daily lives to reconnect with "what's important" might inadvertently exacerbate our disconnect.

The authors provide some good insight on the psychological, evolutionary and (very simplified) neurobiological dimensions of bond formation. They also provide a good explanation of social exclusion and its effects (such as increased aggres
...more
Alisa
This book contains an excellent critique of the cult of busyness that most of us are committed to, and how that negatively affects our relationships. I felt very convicted by my natural tendency to withdraw from the hectic world and isolate (cocoon) myself within my family... and how that results in a self-imposed loneliness that I later regret. I highly recommend it... it's a quick read because it's so interesting!
Sarah Dale
Very readable and a well-informed and interesting reflection on what is happening to many people in Western societies, not just America. Loneliness is often a taboo subject but can have a profound effect on how vulnerable we are to mental (and physical) ill-health. A very important topic I think.
Oswald
Quotes I found interesting:

"gossip plays the same role for humans that grooming behavior does for other primates. It creates bonds between individuals tht go beyond the basic reproductive units of sexual partners and their offspring. It creates groups." P. 65

As group size increases, so does the size of the neocortex." P. 65

48 percent of all households on the island [of Manhattan] are one-person households. P. 79

Does time on the Internet replace other forms of social connection, or does it supple
...more
Anna
This book begins with the premise from Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone (a changing-my-world-view book) that people are not as connected as they used to be and that the outcomes of this are negative for society and the individual. The thesis of The Lonely American is that people drift away from social connections because of push and pull factors. The push is the frenetic and overscheduled intensity of modern life and the pull is the American ideal of the self-reliant hero that stands apart from the ...more
Katie
This book is pretty depressing (but really well written and interesting!), but I read all the way through it anyway, because it confirmed a sense I have been having about modern society, and American society in particular, which is that we're just not as connected as we used to be. This book cites all sorts of studies, all sorts of personal observations, and of course all the technological innovations like the Internet, Facebook, etc., that have become so indispensible but more and more just kee ...more
Sandi
This is interesting esp the part about living alone. Our own has a lot of that too. People like to say their busy and the book talks about I see that slot liked the book glad I read it
Suzie
Excellently presented, interesting examples given, and generally well-written, 'The Lonely American' explores the causes and effects of stepping back from our busy lives. I particularly enjoyed chapters 1, 2, 6, & 10.

Some quotes I found interesting:
"Cocooning is the couples' version of social isolation. It does increase closeness in marriages. It also increases the fragility of marriage, the burdens placed upon marriage, and, over time, it increases the likelihood of both divorce and lonelin
...more
With Butterflies
An interesting read. The book attempts to shed light on the social disconnection of the modern American.

At times it seems as if the authors will use anything (Netflix questionnaires?) to prove their point of view, yet most of their cites are concrete.

What bothered me most of all was the insistence that one cannot live a fulfilled life without the varied connections the authors seem to believe we need. I'm not saying we should all be our own islands of existence, but I don't think it is a dange
...more
Heather
Super readable. Easy to quote from. Enjoyable to read cover-to-cover (which I so rarely get to do when sermon writing). Relevant, very current (2009), Beacon Press. In several places, quietly affirms the value and importance of welcoming, open-minded, enduring religious communities. Gave me some great analysis to mull over about Facebook, online dating, all the current forms of connecting online, what they add to our lives and what they're missing.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I see loneliness as endemic to contemporary America. Everywhere I go, I meet the lonely.

Olds explores this issue. How did this come to occur? Why? Where? What can be done about it?

Like most books about social problems, the thinnest section of the book is home remedies. And that is the section we need most.
Justine
Such an amazing read!!! This book gives you so much to think about our society and culture, as well as our own day-to-day actions. I would recommend this to everybody who has a very busy lifestyle, as well as to everybody who has withdrawn from that life and is now feeling left out. So good!
Anna


I really liked this indepth look at how many factors in modern America have contributed to a rise in loneliness. It definitely made me think about why I sleep with a cell phone on my nightstand and encouraged me to pick up the phone instead of sending an email.
Seth
Thought-provoking, indeed... Some parts tended to be repetitive in their statements and assertions, yet on the whole, the authors are spot on in their critiques of some aspects of our modern way of life.
Sandhya Simhan
Interesting concepts but lots of fluff material and anecdotes that are neither entertaining nor informative much less both. Only read if you enjoy psych articles.
Docaay
Interesting ideas. I can see where "he was so quiet and never bothered his neighbors" might be a warning signal given the thesis of this book.
Stan Leland
Outstanding study of relationship disintegration in America. Very readable and thought provoking
Jules
A timely critique on American culture.
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