Bowling Alone, Chapter 1

Topics: Great Depression, Social capital, Community building Pages: 2 (625 words) Published: December 12, 2005
Response Paper #1

In the first chapter of Bowling Alone, Robert D. Putnam claims that in the last several decades community groups have decreased in number and among the groups still in existence membership is low. Yet he also says that Americans now have more time on their hands. Could this be the effect of our world's rapidly changing technological abilities and is this new technology decreasing one's social capital?

I think that it was because of events during the past that caused community groups to be an extremely large entity in the past. For example, The Great Depression and World War II brought the American citizens together for help and reliance on one another. The people that experienced and survived those events began and participated in the great number of community groups in the 50s and 60s. Likewise in 2002, the tragic event of September 11th brought together a nation that seemed all of a sudden on its way back to the days of communities, yet that only seemed to last a few months. January 14th's New York Times stated that a committee meeting for what to do on Ground Zero showed many empty seats. Why did this tragic event not bring together as much the communities like the tragic events of the past? I think that our technological progress is to blame for this.

There are many options today for individuals to occupy their leisure time. Yes, there were many choices in the past for people, however they mostly involved groups of people. For example, the bowling league, sports leagues, etc. Now however, when people have free time, they can enjoy themselves alone by watching TV or movies or go on the internet, for example. Has the internet then pushed people farther apart or has it brought people together? I think it could be seen both ways.

Kids sit for hours and hours at night staring at their computer screens, talking on AOL Instant Messenger® about nothing with their friends, writing emails, or looking up information on their favorite...
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