Living Alone Together
In case you haven’t heard, we live in the era of “LAT” couples, they call it: “Living Alone Together,” if you can make sense of it. LAT is a new way to form a dysfunctional marriage (as if we don’t already have enough marriage alternatives). LAT was once called a “separation”, which was a temporary placeholder for a divorce – if they worked things out, the marriage was resumed. Today a “separation” is a LAT relationship and a workable marriage alternative. Both people are living alone and therefore getting along better, so their relationship grows stronger, say LAT advocates.
Living alone is “the most significant demographic shift since the Baby Boom,” says Sociologist Eric Klinenberg.According to the statistics published this month in his book, “Living Alone”:
- In 1950, only 22 percent of American adults were single. Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single.
- People who live alone make up 28 percent of all U.S. households, which makes them more common than any other domestic unit, including the nuclear family.
- For the first time, the majority of all American adults are single.
- Americans will spend more of their adult life unmarried than married, and for much of this time they will live alone.
- The global numbers of people living alone is also skyrocketing, especially in urban areas of the Scandinavian countries, western Europe and Japan.
“These numbers are more than just a passing trend,” says Klinenberg. “It is transforming our communities.” It represents a whole new demographic shift. It is fascinating to watch how Klinenberg spins “living alone,” as if it was virtuous.
With increasing momentum the understanding of what love is and how love works is vanishing. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold,” Jesus said, as the end times draw near (Matthew 24:12). Klinenberg demonstrates how convenient a self-centered lifestyle is in a Postmodern world which rejects Absolute Truth. One leads to the other, Jesus said: first comes “lawlessness” (Postmodernism), then comes “cold love” (LAT).
The new “cold love” logic would be comical if it weren’t so tragic.
We already witnessed a mass exodus from marriage into the “living together” paradigm (“LT”, for short), so LAT is the same idea with the extra word thrown in: “alone.” You would think LAT is really a defeated marriage, but listening to the Diane Rhems show spins it as another modern alternative to traditional marriage. It offers “convenience”, which is the paramount virtue in the American Way – efficiency enables our fast-paced pursuit of happiness, and living together gets in the way.
Klinenberg claims that “living alone” is not problematic:
Though conventional wisdom tells us that living by oneself leads to loneliness and isolation, Klinenberg shows that most solo dwellers are deeply engaged in social and civic life. In fact, compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer.
Klinenberg demonstrates how confused the Postmodern world is about authentic, love relationships. To “eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer” is not what love is made of. These may be healthy activities, but still have nothing to do with love, and “without love, I am nothing,” the Bible says. It means without love we live in a very insecure, insignificant, fragile world, which really is the epitome of loneliness.
The “Mental Health” Benefits
Kleinberg further asserts that “living alone” could be a viewed as a position of strength:
There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles than families, since they favor urban apartments over large suburban homes.
What a creative way to dispense with the problem of loneliness – we simply pursue “environmentally sustainable lifestyles” (a.k.a., “environmentally-friendly”) in lieu of relationships. This takes “green” to a whole new level – even more important than marriage and families, according to Klinenberg!
Is it possible that living alone produces “better mental health”, as Klinenberg claims? We would expect “loneliness” accompanies “living alone”. Not so, Klinenberg says:
In a world of ubiquitous media and hyperconnectivity, this way of life can help us discover ourselves and appreciate the pleasure of good company.
In other words, we need a break from the pressures of Social Media like Twitter and Facebook, which includes breaking from other relationships, because “Life is about creating yourself,” Klinenberg told Diane Rhems.
Yes, we need a break from the diffuse chorus of voices bombarding us online, but the antidote is not loneliness. God says life is about creating love, not “creating yourself”, because “whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it.” Authentic, sacrificial, warm, human relationships are the key to emotional health.
- Diane Rhems show, 2/6/2012.
- “Going Solo”, by Eric Klinenberg.
- Silly But Sweet
Good write up – I especially liked your critique that said eating out & exercising have nothing to do with building love relationships.
I came across another Klinenberg quote from a totally different source today: “Young professionals ‘often find it’s easier to [build their networks and careers] if they don’t have obligations to others,'”. So it’s easier to serve myself if other people aren’t getting in the way all the time. Amazing. Of course, that’s exactly opposite of Jesus’ teaching that it’s more bless to give than receive.
I recommend the movie “Into the Wild” in this regard. It’s such a tragic story, but it is one of the most poignant examples of the emptiness of being alone I’ve ever seen.
I’ve seen “Into the Wild”… selfishness = cold and alone!
Mark, thanks for that link from AdWeek (http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/indie-woman-138525) Astonishing survey results. Really 51% of the populace think it’s OK for a kid to be functionally fatherless? Would that same percentage think its Ok if fathers skip out of child support? I don’t think there’s any difference.
“The question is why. Or more precisely: Why do so many of us find living alone so much more appealing than other available options? Why has it become so common in the world’s most affluent societies? What makes it so compelling for the young, the middle-aged, and the old?”
I wonder if Klinenburg is ever able to answer his questions?
It’s easier to cater to self, if you’re alone – It’s the default! All disagreements are graciously received by self.
My question would be, “Has it really made anyone significantly happier, or fullfilled?”
A solo trip to Mars should be no problemo, as long as it’s convenient. Christ died for the ungodly, out of convenience… NOT.