The international music group the Black Eyed Peas had a 2003 hit song titled, “Where is the Love?” The song is littered with lyrics such as:
What’s wrong with the world, mama?
I think the whole world’s addicted to the drama
It just ain’t the same
Old ways have changed
As I’m getting older, y’all people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ the wrong direction
Whatever happened to the values of humanity?
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we spreadin’ animosity
Lack of understandin’ leading us away from unity
Now ask yourself
Where is the love?
The Black Eye Peas hit seems to echo the findings of a study conducted by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona. The study analyzed data from the General Social Survey collected from 1985 to 2004 on relationships among Americans. In a manner of speaking it concludes that Americans are certainly loving others less.
Close Friendships Are Getting Harder to Find
The study finds more Americans than ever admitting to a decrease in their social circle, with many saying they have no one to tell their troubles to. The survey shows fewer Americans have a non-family member in which to confide.The study found that the majority of Americans have an average of about two people to talk to about their problems – compared to a 1985 average of almost three people. Twenty-five percent of people said that they had no one in whom they could confide. Though 75 percent of people in 1985 reported they had a friend in whom they could confide, only half in 2004 said they could count on such support.
The Divorce rate is up
The Americans for Divorce Reform projects that “Possibly 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.” Sociologist have given everything from childlessness to money problems as causes for the divorce rate increase. What appears to be overlooked is the possible correlation between Americans’ inability or unwillingness to maintain more enduring friendships could and the increasing number of divorces. For what is marriage if not a more intense form of friendship; a long term partnership of love and confidences.
Lack of Social Activities and Involvement
Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Bowling Alone,” a book about increasing social isolation in the United States. He says Americans go on 60 percent fewer picnics today and families eat dinner together 40 percent less often compared with 1965. They are less likely to meet at clubs or go bowling in groups. Even the throngs of college students who join collegiate sororities and fraternities practically cease to continue active participation after graduation.
Where The Love Has Gone
What contributes to the lack of loving and personal relationships? Increasing work demands, including working two or more jobs to make ends meet, and long commutes leave many people too exhausted to seek social and even family bonds. Putnam has estimated that every 10-minute increase in commuter time makes it 10 percent less likely that people will seek out to maintain and build close social relationships. Putnam also pinpoints television as a big part of the problem. 5 percent of U.S. households in 1950 owned television sets, 95 percent owned television in 1960, coinciding with the decline in quality and quantity of close relationships.
But Americans Have More “Friends”
Barry Wellman, a University of Toronto sociologist, questions whether the study’s focus on intimate relationships means that social relationships in general are dwindling. Wellman said people’s overall ties are actually growing, compared to previous decades, thanks in part to widespread use of the Internet. Wellman has calculated that the average person today has about 250 ties with friends and relatives. The fact is that while people may have 600 friends on Facebook or Myspace they do not personally confide in these friends. These Internet “friendships” are of a surface nature, they have the title but not the meaning of friendship.
American society has become a broken heart, where intimate social ties – once seen as an integral part of every day life and associated with a host of psychological and civic merit – are becoming extinct. The result means that more people appear to suffer alone and in silence during bad times. “That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct the study.