If you feel lonely, you’re not alone. According to a new study by serious sociologists, most people in the US are lonely.

Duke University professors Lynn Smith-Lovin and Robert L. Wilson say that the average American’s circle of close friends has shrunk dramatically in the past two decades. And the number of people who say they have no one they can discuss important concerns with has more than doubled.

Smith-Loven says, “The evidence shows that Americans have fewer confidants and those ties are also more family-based than they used to be. This change indicates something that’s not good for our society. Ties with a close network of people create a safety net. These ties also lead to civic engagement and local political action.” In other words, our loneliness not only affects how we feel, it also affects how our local governments function.

Their study shows that Americans’ social contacts are a “densely connected, close, homogeneous set of ties slowly closing in on itself, becoming smaller, more tightly interconnected, more focused on the very strong bonds of the nuclear family.” That means we have fewer contacts that come through clubs, neighbors and organizations outside the home.

“Group membership is very important in creating ties to people outside the family,” According to Smith-Lovin, “But those ties may be more superficial now. If people spend less time in groups, they may talk to people, but just about matters that involve the club, and they may be less likely to share personal troubles or triumphs with them.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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