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Is the Socially Isolated American a Myth? So Many Important Responses

Recently at Psychology Today, I asked, “Are Americans becoming more and more isolated?” So many thoughtful comments were posted there and emailed to me that I thought I’d rewrite the post with those in mind. Instead, though, I’ll just summarize the original post briefly (you can read the whole thing here) so I can get to readers’ comments more quickly. I won’t get to all of the points (or at least not in this post), so let me thank JSS, Alan, UpperWorks, Anony-mouse, Psyngle, Lauri, Deb01, and everyone who emailed me for taking the time to share your observations.

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Inventing Friendship: Guest Post by Claude Fischer

Bella’s Introduction:

Thanks to the work of the eminent sociologist, Professor Claude S. Fischer, I’ve known for a while that the 2006 media panic – about how Americans are supposedly growing increasingly isolated – was overwrought. When I saw a fellow Psychology Today blogger refer to the findings of that original study as uncontested truth, I knew it was time to give some attention to lots of other research suggesting a quite different conclusion. In preparing my piece, I contacted Claude Fischer (someone I’ve never met) and got a very gracious reply. Yesterday I published the post, Are Americans Becoming More and More Isolated? at Psych Today. I’ve gotten some feedback since then, from the comments section and by email, and will publish a revised version at this blog sometime soon.

While researching the piece on the myth of social isolation, I came across Professor Fischer’s blog for his new book, Made in America: A Social History of American Character and Culture. I especially loved his post, “Inventing Friendship.” He kindly agreed to let me cross-post it here.

I’ll have more to say about Professor Fischer and his Made in America book at the end of this post. For now, on to the heart of the matter.

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Subscribe RSS Now Working Plus Comments Post Automatically

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the Subscribe RSS now seems to be working fine. (Let me know if you have trouble with that or anything else.) Also, comments are now posting automatically, so there should be no delay in seeing them. Here’s hoping the spammers stay away!

Thanks, all, for your patience with these early days of new-blog life.

Comment Posted on the Fatherhood Channel [UPDATED]

[UPDATE:  This post was previously titled, “Fatherhood Channel Suppressed This Comment.” I have since heard from someone at the site, and he has posted a comment here, and also posted my comment, with my permission, where I was trying to submit it. I believe him that this was some technical glitch, and I apologize.]

Previously at my Living Single blog at Psychology Today, I wrote about media coverage of marriage and relationship education programs. In short, the enthusiasm of the claims has been barely restrained by the actual results of scientific research. (See here and here and here.)

At first, I was happy to see that the PAIRS Foundation, posting as part of the Fatherhood Channel, wrote about my success at getting NPR to take notice of the exaggerations it had aired. While doing so, though, it continued to perpetuate some of the same myths. It also guessed wrong about my background. They seem to think I offer therapy and that their classes would be a threat to my livelihood.  I’m not a therapist or any other sort of clinical psychologist (I’m a research psychologist), so my criticisms of their misleading claims have nothing to do with that.

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Time to Rewrite the Rules of Old Maid

It’s still selling! I’m talking about that card game, Old Maid, in which EVERYONE wins except the person who is stuck with the Old Maid card. Natalya sent me this gem – thanks, Natalya! As she pointed out, this singlism is being peddled to children.

I say it is time to rewrite the rules of Old Maid. First, and most obviously, whoever ends up with the Old Maid WINS! And, of course, we need a new picture of the single woman.

Shall we also rename the game? Suggestions welcome.

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