Move over, scare stories about loneliness and the demise of a connected and caring society! More people are living alone than ever before - and that's a good thing.
In my last post, I fretted about whether Eric Klinenberg's new book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, would get the media attention it deserves. Although it fully acknowledges the challenges of living alone, it is not a chicken-little book, running around squawking about the falling sky. The media loves "be afraid - be very afraid!" stories.
In a welcome sign that my fears may be unfounded, Klinenberg has an op-ed in tomorrow's New York Times (available online today), "One's a crowd." There, he highlights evidence showing that "living alone seems to encourage more, not less, social interaction."
Another big point he makes about the psychology of living alone is that increasingly, it is something we do by choice. Adults, including even (especially?) older adults, see it as a mark of accomplishment to have a place of their own. As Klinenberg puts it, "...the rise of aging alone is also a social achievement." Living alone flourishes when cities flourish, and when advances in communication technologies make it increasingly possible to live alone but stay connected.
I have to stop myself before I end up quoting the entire essay. You can read it for yourself here.
One more important note. Another high-profile publication is recognizing that if you want to know what single people think of their lives, maybe you should ask them instead of just assuming that all of the dopey stereotypes are true. So, single people, if you want to have your say, head to the Washington Post. Here's the link. Don't be dissuaded by that introductory paragraph that seems to assume that you are single because you have been looking for "The One" and haven't found it. You can say what you really think later in the survey. [CAUTION: For some of the questions, one of the alternatives is already selected, and usually (though not always) it is one that says something bad about being single. Once you record your own answer, that's the one that gets counted, so it is only a problem if you skip an item and end up getting recorded as saying that living single is a bad, bad thing.] The survey results will be described alongside an article that will be published on February 12 about people who are single past middle age.