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Craving Time Alone, and Privacy at Home

The joy of being completely alone

How important is it to you to have times when you are completely alone, away from anyone else?

The Pew Research Center asked a representative sample of American adults that question. Their options were

  • very important
  • somewhat important
  • not very important
  • not at all important
  • don't know

Results showed that Americans really like their alone time. More than half (55%) said it was very important to be able to have time completely alone, away from everyone else, and another 30% said it was somewhat important, for a grand total of 85% saying it was important to have time to spend completely alone. (In the minority were the 9% who said it was not very important and the 2% who said it was not at all important. Another 2% said they didn't know. The other 2% didn't answer.)

Participants were also asked about the significance of their homes as places where they are not disturbed. Results were nearly identical. A total of 85% said it was important that they not be disturbed at home (56% very important and 29% somewhat important, as compared to just 9% who said it was not very important and 2% who said it was not at all important).

In the research I did for my book, How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, I traveled the country, asking people to show me their homes and tell me about their lives. I went into the project expecting everyone to want at least some time alone and some time with other people, though in vastly different proportions.

Occasionally, I met a person who claimed to have little or no interest in having time to themselves. But as we continued to talk, there almost always came a time when they waxed poetic about a particular time of the day when they were totally on their own and just loved it. Typically, it was an early morning hour, when no one else was up.

So are there really people for whom it is "not at all important" to have time to be completely alone? Are there people who really do get no time at all that is all to themselves – and like it that way? I suppose there are a few but my guess is that their numbers are dwindling.

[Note. Thanks to Vicki Larson. I found this Pew Report by following the links in her terrific essay for the New York Times.]

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