It has been a long while since I read sociologist Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone. At the time, I was an international student facing her first year in college and quite frankly, I did feel alone. Coming from a more communal culture, I felt that I had no hope in a country where the norm was isolation in suburbs and moving away from families for work or school. Over the years I built some wonderful friendships, but I still wonder what my life then would have been like if I had Facebook and continuous access to updates from 400+ connections I have on this site.
According to CafeMom's Mom Index (TM), things may not have been much different, despite the Internet. This study states that moms have an average of two true friends. Forget all the social networking, conversing online and participating in online chats. Moms are pretty isolated in their daily grind of work and family time. This finding is echoed by work published in the American Sociological Review, which states that the average American has only two close friends and a quarter do not have any.
In other words, boasting hundreds of online connections may not mean that we are in touch with them or engaged in what they have to say. Technology helps spread word faster but does not replace the human factor.