Sociologist Robert Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone, examines the structure that social organizations - such as bowling leagues - provide for people to feel connected to one another and develop relationships, giving them real "social capital" in approaching the world. Yet, Putnam argues, these organizations are losing influence in a culture, and we are moving more and more toward a society of “bowling alone.”
I highly recommend the book, whose main points are outlined well on its website, bowlingalone.com.
Reflecting on some of my recent writing within the context of Putnam's ideas, I better understand some my own feelings these past months.
“The Other Side, Imagined” explains how important institutions like the workplace, relationships and friendships are as “sources of support in looking at the big picture,” and “Grappling with my Dark Side” shows that I haven't quite found those resources yet: "I really am trying to build a life for myself. Those tangibles I mention - my job, family, friends, this blog - I recognize the support and sense of a foundation that they give me. Yet I still feel so, so empty inside."
I support sociology - and all social sciences - as fields of research because of the way they provide a platform for discussing these issues of loneliness and anxiety we all go through.
In my own life, I am trying to develop my own social capital. It has been largely a process of trial and error much like my experience with writing.
Yet I keep on going.