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Mark Manson (Founder/MarkManson.net)The problem is that modern society requires community engagement to function well. When everyone is just off doing their own thing, a lot of institutions and social necessities begin to fall apart. My own takeaway from this, having studied human happiness for years, is that people rely on a sense of community and shared effort to maintain healthy and stable lives. The fact that people are opting out of these opportunities for community and local impact, in a ceaseless obsession of online media and global fame, likely explains a lot of the social changes going on today. And a lot of the drops in mental health, as well.
Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as “a prodigious achievement.”
Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.
Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.