Living Alone Is The New Norm

The March 12, 2012 Time magazine has an article with the above title. In the article Erik Klinenberg who teaches sociology at New York University posits that more people living alone is a positive development. He notes that 28% of the households in the US are made up of single people which ties that type of household with those inhabited by childless adults for a total of 56% or a higher number than households with a nuclear family. (look out social security… fewer workers-more recipients)

The article includes a nice graphic that shows countries around the world and the percentages for solo habitation in each. Certainly poverty and multigenerational family traditions affect these numbers significantly in many countries but I was struck by the fact that two of the countries who are currently experiencing rapid educational, economic and technological growth, India and Brazil (China’s numbers were not on the map) had the fewest numbers going “solo” on the chart. That is they had the higher percentages of nuclear families. Possibly a coincidence but interesting anyway as the nations who have in the past experienced strong economic growth but now are slowing are trending towards higher solo habitation numbers. It is also interesting because these high nuclear family countries are also the ones whom I feel are getting ready to take our lunch away from us and eat it as we are forced to watch.

Klinenberg ends his article the the startling quote that, “...most people presented with those choices will opt to go Solo.” Wouldn’t You? In support of this “prefer to go solo argument” he offers the following:
1. Living alone allows us to do what we want to do on our own terms
2. It liberates us from the constraints of a domestic partners needs.
3. I permits us to focus on ourselves
4. It offers us restorative solitude
5. It helps us understand who we are
6. Living alone is what offers us the opportunity to make connections(through electronic social media)
7. It allows us to pursue “sacred” modern values… ( pardon me, but what the Hell are sacred modern values)
8. It allows us to have personal control and self-realization

Strangely his points in support of the value of living alone are almost exaclty the same points I would use to identify what is wrong with our society today. Self absorption, self interest, a to Hell with the rest of you atttitude, instant gratification, personal social disconnects and a the currently popular no compromise-me first attitude that is turning this country into a set of warring tribes, political and otherwise, Each tribe apparently driven to reachb their own self serving agenda with little or no thought given to members of other tribes.

I understand that for many people living alone is a choice that they have willing made and for others it is a choice that life has directed or forced upon them but in reality those who chose to live alone for the reasons cited by Klinenberg may also die alone and that for many of them will be a terrible thing.


About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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One Response to Living Alone Is The New Norm

  1. thelastgasp1 says:

    Living alone is a morose thought and for me would be a dour existence. It bring to mind the old saying, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make any noise”. Why experience wonderful sights, sounds, feelings if you have no one to share the experience with at that moment and into the future. There is a validation and confirmation of who and what you are when a partner shares these experiences. Likewise, in times of grief, pain, heartbreak and anxiety this same partner acts as a “heatsink” to absorb some of the distress. The results of living alone are echoed in Simone and Garfunkel’s song, “I am a rock, I am an island”. A rock feels no pain and an island never cries…sounds pretty empty to me!!

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