People seem to be less connected than before. One survey indicates many people have no close friends at all. There are such strong correlations between health, longevity, happiness, and having friends that this finding is not hopeful.
Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said they had "zero" close friends with whom to discuss personal matters. More than 50 percent named two or fewer confidants, most often immediate family members, the researchers said. "This is a big social change, and it indicates something that's not good for our society," said Duke University Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin, lead author on the study to be published in the American Sociological Review.
The problem is likely time. We work more than any other developed nation - doubtless to achieve the American dream of wealth, and squander much of the rest of our lives with TV or the Internet (he said while posting to his blog). There are only so many hours and we still do not recognize time as our most precious asset.
Meanwhile, another article about how cooperation evolved as a human trait offers an interesting conclusion:
The results are intriguing. It turns out that the societies in which the player ones in the dictator game were willing to give more to the player twos are also the societies in which people were more willing to punish less generous players in the other two games. In other words, societies that punished strongly were also the most likely to have strong altruistic impulses. The moral of the story is that if you want to live in a world of caring generous cooperative people, make sure that you thoroughly thrash all the greedy, chiseling scoundrels you come across. It may cost you, but the world will be a better place.
Our bias toward fairness seems to be hard-wired, and would explain why some of us who claim to be free-market capitalists are growing increasingly restive about unequal distribution of wealth, especially here in the US.