Americans are increasingly alone

Young Americans prefer the Internet to going out with friends
Young Americans prefer the Internet to going out with friends

Theodor Adorno (1903-1969), a German philosopher and sociologist who took refuge in the United States during World War II, joked about Americans’ obsessive collection of digital data, calling the country “the statistical United States.”

Since then, the United States’ obsession with numbers has increased.

Americans collect and analyze data on everything, so much so that rather than being trend-setting people, they may simply be good at spotting passing fads before others. Be that as it may, the latest trend that has emerged in the country seems to be that Americans love each other less…

According to data published by the US Census Bureau (the national equivalent of Italian statistics) from 2014, there could have been a breakdown in social contact in the United States.

Between 2010 and 2013, the average amount of time Americans spent with their friends each week was stable at about six and a half hours, about the same as it has been for the past two decades.

However, in 2019, the time spent by the average American in the company of friends and relatives dropped to just four hours (a 37% drop in five years, that’s already before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic).

Since then, the average time spent with friends in the US has dropped to just 2 hours and 45 minutes per week, a drop of 58 percent over the 2010-2013 period.

Although this phenomenon is present in all age groups, it is particularly strong among adolescents, who are often perceived as asocial.

Compared to 2010-2013, young Americans ages 15-19 were spending about 11 fewer hours per week with their friends in 2021 (a staggering 64% drop in less than a decade).

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What causes the sudden shift is a matter of debate.

The pandemic has something to do with it, but the bulk of the decline occurred long before the arrival of Covid.

The most reliable hypothesis is that the decline depends above all on some kind of substitution of the company by others with the simulation of human contact that arrived with the use of the Internet, especially cell phones, which penetrated the market in the United States. exceeded 50% in 2014.

If so, it would still be more of an observation than an explanation.

How did Americans learn, so quickly, to prefer mediated communication with the surrounding reality rather than a direct relationship?

For now it’s worth every other answer and there’s no point in dwelling too much. Instead, one wonders whether or not the same phenomenon is occurring in other Western countries, or whether instead American separatism represents a kind of nationalistic nervous breakdown that occurs only in that country.

Diplomatic note

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