Friday, February 19, 2010

Another myth usefully debunked

Jennifer Senior had an article in the Nov. 2008 issue of the New York Magazine asking if “urban loneliness” was just a myth (“Alone together?). Of course, this is a rhetorical question – how could it really not be? Senior says cities “are the ultimate expression of our humanity, the ultimate habitat in which to be ourselves” – bursting with rewarding relationships and shared pursuits. Despite all the polling data she dutifully cites, there is a slight problem with her argument. Why are, then, 58.6 per cent of dating-age Manhattans subscribed to online dating services? Which creates a golden business opportunity for a few enterprising geeks to offer them scientific algorithms for finding the true romantic soul-mates waiting for them a few mouse-clicks away. This must be part of the vibrancy of city life omitted by Robert Putnam and a few other naysayers.