You Gotta Have Friends

A study finds that Americans are getting lonelier

Americans are more socially isolated today than we were barely two decades ago. The latest evidence of that comes from a topflight team of sociologists who, after comparing national surveys in 1985 and 2004, report a one-third drop in the number of people with whom the average American can discuss "important matters."

That startling report raises four questions: 1) Is it true? 2) Why has it happened? 3) Does it really matter? And 4) if so, what can we do about it?

I confess a personal stake in the first question. Six years ago in a book I wrote called Bowling Alone,...

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