In a past post, I compared LiveJournal to an office water cooler: a place where writers congregate and share gossip, good news, and gripes. But if, like me, you’ve ever questioned the value of spending valuable time on Live Journal, an article in last Friday’s USA Today should lay to rest any qualms you might have had.
Writer Janet Kornblum cites studies that indicate “Americans have a third fewer close friends and confidants than just two decades ago — a sign that people may be living lonelier, more isolated lives than in the past.” She suggests that the main reasons for this social distancing are that “More people live in the suburbs and spend more time at work … leaving less time to socialize or join groups.” Additionally, Kornblum says, “people have more entertainment tools such as TV, iPods and computers, so they can stay home and tune out.”
I’m under no illusions that you’ll find deep intimacy on LiveJournal– if that’s a goal, it’s probably best to communicate off-line. But as Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone says, “new trends, such as online social networking [read: LiveJournal], may help counter the effect” of our increased loneliness and isolation. This, of course, is something we and our community of LJ friends know from experience is true. So from now on, when we meet and drink from our online water cooler, can we agree to leave behind that unwanted — and unwarranted — sense of guilt?