A quote from Jonathan Franzen’s Why Bother? (from his book of essays How to be Alone) that I think is interesting in that it presents a different perspective – a tangential perspective perhaps – on the loss of social capital that is described in Putnam’s Bowling Alone:
“Superficially, at least, regionalism is still thriving. In fact it’s fashionable on college campuses nowadays to say that there is no America anymore, there are only Americas; that the only things a black lesbian New Yorker and a Southern Baptist Georgian have in common are the English language and the federal income tax. The likelihood, however, is that both the New Yorker and the Georgian watch Letterman every night, both are struggling to find health insurance, both have jobs that are threatened by the migration of employment overseas, both go to discount superstores to purchase Pocahontas tie-in products for their children, both are being pummeled into cynicism by commercial advertising, both play Lotto, both dream of fifteen minutes of fame, both are taking a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and both have a guilty crush on Uma Thurman.”
Another quote from the same collection (only this time from the essay Imperial Bedroom) casts an unconventional eye over the issues of privacy in the 21st Century. There’s much here to respect, if not agree with:
The “right to be left alone”? Far from disappearing, it’s exploding. It’s the essence of modern American architecture, landscape, transportation, communication, and mainstream political philosophy. The real reason that Americans are apathetic about privacy is so big as to be almost invisible: we’re flat-out drowning in privacy.