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Americans Have Fewer Friends

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How Many "Close" Friends Do You Have?

0-1
3
10%
2-3
12
40%
4-5
7
23%
6 or more
8
27%
 
Total votes : 30

Americans Have Fewer Friends

Postby knapplc » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:29 am

Below is an article I ran across today that discusses the shrinking circle of close friends in American society these days. It pretty much says that we’re becoming a more isolated society than we were a decade or more ago. I would have to say that my “circle of friends” has shrunk a bit over the years, but mostly that’s due to too much work, too many responsibilities and not enough time.

I think a lot of America’s isolation has to come from increased usage of the Internet. You can probably follow a progression from the days before Radio, then TV, then the Internet and see a downward trend in social interaction with the advent of each invention. The more in-home entertainment options we have, the more expensive dating/dinner/movies, etc becomes, the more likely we are to stay home more and interact in person less.

After college and guys started moving away, I'd say my circle of "close" friends is down to 2-3, and one of those guys I really don't see much at all anymore.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are more socially isolated than they were 20 years ago, separated by work, commuting and the single life, researchers reported on Friday.

Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said they had "zero" close friends with whom to discuss personal matters. More than 50 percent named two or fewer confidants, most often immediate family members, the researchers said.

"This is a big social change, and it indicates something that's not good for our society," said Duke University Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin, lead author on the study to be published in the American Sociological Review.

Smith-Lovin's group used data from a national survey of 1,500 American adults that has been ongoing since 1972.

She said it indicated people had a surprising drop in the number of close friends since 1985. At that time, Americans most commonly said they had three close friends whom they had known for a long time, saw often, and with whom they shared a number of interests.

They were almost as likely to name four or five friends, and the relationships often sprang from their neighborhoods or communities.

Ties to a close network of friends create a social safety net that is good for society, and for the individual. Research has linked social support and civic participation to a longer life, Smith-Lovin said.

People were not asked why they had fewer intimate ties, but Smith-Lovin said that part of the cause could be that Americans are working more, marrying later, having fewer children, and commuting longer distances.

The data also show the social isolation trend mirrors other class divides: Non-whites and people with less education tend to have smaller social networks than white Americans and the highly educated.

That means that in daily life, personal emergencies and national disasters like Hurricane Katrina, those with the fewest resources also have the fewest personal friends to call for advice and assistance.

"It's one thing to know someone and exchange e-mails with them. It's another thing to say, 'Will you give me a ride out of town with all of my possessions and pets? And can I stay with you for a couple or three months?" Smith-Lovin said.

"Worrying about social isolation is not a matter of nostalgia for a warm and cuddly past. Real things are strongly connected with that," added Harvard University Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," a book on the decline of American community.

He suggested flexible work schedules would allow Americans to tend both personal and professional lives.
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Postby moonhead » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:33 am

all of the friends that i would consider close live at the very least 20 miles from me. and up to 300 miles away. but i still consider them very close friends. we can and do discuss all matter of life. just because i can't sit down and have a beer with them after work doesn't mean they are not close friends. unless of course you consider your significant other a "friend"...then i suppose i'm not that far from my best friend.
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Postby logan » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:39 am

i'm part of a whole group of friends i all consider like brothers. some of them i have been friends with for over 20 years. others 10 plus.
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Re: Americans Have Fewer Friends

Postby onnestabe » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:52 am

knapplc wrote:After college and guys started moving away, I'd say my circle of "close" friends is down to 2-3, and one of those guys I really don't see much at all anymore.


Sounds familiar. I still consider some of my buddies from college to be close, but I don't really live close to any of them anymore.
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Postby Omaha Red Sox » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:59 am

I had about 6 or so friends that I gave keys to my apartment to before I got married and bought a house. These were close friends. I trusted them enough to let them come over whenever they wanted. All but 2 of these people have moved away due to careers or college, but I still keep in touch with them. I don't know if I'd consider them 'close' anymore, because we've gone our separate ways, but I've gained other 'close' friends in the process.
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Re: Americans Have Fewer Friends

Postby knapplc » Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:08 pm

onnestabe wrote:
knapplc wrote:After college and guys started moving away, I'd say my circle of "close" friends is down to 2-3, and one of those guys I really don't see much at all anymore.


Sounds familiar. I still consider some of my buddies from college to be close, but I don't really live close to any of them anymore.



I still love these guys, but when you haven't seen them or heard from them in a year or more, it's hard to consider them "close."

Of course, there are about five guys that I haven't seen, spoken to or heard anything about in a couple of years, but if they needed a place to stay for a week I'd have a bed ready for them on a moment's notice. I guess I'm counting these guys "out," but it's a qualified statement. They're good friends, but if I don't talk to them in a while, I wouldn't count them as "close" any more.

When I'm talking about "close friends," I'm mostly thinking of guys (or girls) that I see on a regular basis, regardless of time or geography. I guess one qualifying thing I would say is that I'm counting one couple as "one" friend, because they're interchangeable in my opinion. That's probably a weird way of thinking about it.

And of course I'm also not counting my wife, who is my best friend. I totally agree with the argument that she should be in there, but I see her as somebody above and beyond a friend.
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Postby Omaha Red Sox » Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:15 pm

I've been told by older, wiser men than myself, that, when you get older, much older than my 27, your circle of 'close friends' dwindles till it's basically just 1 or 2 left. I don't see that happening with myself, but I'm still pretty young.
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Postby mutantseabass » Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:43 pm

Omaha Red Sox wrote:I've been told by older, wiser men than myself, that, when you get older, much older than my 27, your circle of 'close friends' dwindles till it's basically just 1 or 2 left. I don't see that happening with myself, but I'm still pretty young.



That only happens if you let it happen. I have a group of 10 or so close friends. Some I went to college with, some i went to high school with, one i have know for 31 years. I cant see ever losing touch with my close friends, more so because most of us wouldnt let it happen. We all do alot of things together and our families all get along. Most have kids and some dont but the ties we made over the years with each other makes it worth the time.
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Postby Dan Lambskin » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:04 pm

i have quiet a few close friends, but i can see that number dwindling to only a handfull after we all end up with a few kids. kids seems to take up alot of time
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Postby Tiki » Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:29 pm

I'd say I have like ten or twelve really close friends. But, all of them I could count on them for anything. Well all got eachothers back so no one really messes with us. Plus we got our "hood" on lock-down. Who didn't or doesn't have a crew they roll/ed with constantly when they were young?
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