Bowling Alone(r)

I have probably referenced Robert Putnum's phenomenal Bowling Alone* a dozen times on this blog. It is a must read for church planters, forward thinkers, and anyone who thinks much about the people around them. I've owned at least 3 copies and just gave my last copy away (again).

This morning's New York Times had an interesting article launching off that idea. Among other tragic observations, it said:
A recent study by sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona found that, on average, most adults only have two people they can talk to about the most important subjects in their lives — serious health problems, for example, or issues like who will care for their children should they die. And about one-quarter have no close confidants at all.
I don't find this idea too startling. In our increasingly connective society, we find ourselves more and more isolated. We can reach one another via IM, SMS, or email at any moment of the day, and yet we never really touch anyone.

Although I try not to spend too much time on introspection (in most cases, it's not healthy), I have found myself wondering "Who are my friends...". I'm not questioning if I have them - I've recently had the realization that I have more friends than I ever have in my life - it's just that I'm realizing they're not always who I thought they were. Relationships that I thought I could count on have evaporated, and others have suddenly materialized (or more accurately, I suddenly saw them there) with people who I could really count on.

I feel like I've been traded by bowling teams. Beats the heck out of bowling alone, though.

*Check this link for some fascinating research on social capital in your part of the world...


Andy said...

I hear you on relationships - in the last 6 weeks we have had some startling wake-ups - both with people we thought were friends, but seem not to be and people we never knew were and definitely are. For us it has been a lesson in keeping God as our first priority - our first point of reference - our best friend - and not living with an over-reliance on people. If any of that makes sense.

Will be ordering the book, too - thanks for the tip off.

Randy Bohlender said...

Andy wrote: For us it has been a lesson in keeping God as our first priority - our first point of reference - our best friend - and not living with an over-reliance on people.

Well put, friend. Time and again I think someone is the answer to my problem, only to get smacked upside the head. Sometimes I am hard of learning.

Ronni said...

Oh yeah... although I'm very involved in my church... I don't have any "close" friends there... it seems my close friends are from my former church (which I left to come back to this church) or from a small group that isn't really part of any particular church. When my car broke down...hubby called someone from the old church and they were there in minutes... but I was surrounded by those from my new church... I'm sure if I'd asked, I'd gotten a ride home... I'm very sure of that...but our first reaction was another person... and the other people just blessed me with a car... an older one but it runs... when I needed one badly. You know who your true friends are when you are floundering... I do know two people in my leadership though that have picked me up when I was floundering... and like you, relationships are changing right now. It's all good.