bowling alone
pp. Not participating in the social life of a community.
Other Forms
Individuals now lead more atomised and anonymous lives in which they are more likely to be watching television and "bowling alone" than participating in collective activities alongside politicians.
—Robert Buddan, “MPs, careers, and salary controversies,” The Gleaner, February 16, 2003
Will Wright says that one of the things that has amazed him most about the online Sims — more than 35,000 people have been testing the system before its official launch — is the passionate energy people put into acquiring and cultivating roommates. People set up a home and then invite groups of people to come live and share resources with them. These social pods are like yuppie kibbutzim in which every woman is Jennifer Aniston and every guy is Matthew Perry, and so each anomic individual is surrounded in all directions by a supportive clique of happy singles for flirting and reinforcement. If you grew up in the bowling-alone world, maybe this is your idea of heaven.
—David Brooks, “Oversimulated Suburbia,” The New York Times, November 24, 2002
1995 (earliest)
The most whimsical yet discomfiting bit of evidence of social disengagement in contemporary America that I have discovered is this: more Americans are bowling today than ever before, but bowling in organized leagues has plummeted in the last decade or so. Between 1980 and 1993 the total number of bowlers in America increased by 10 percent, while league bowling decreased by 40 percent. (Lest this be thought a wholly trivial example, I should note that nearly 80 million Americans went bowling at least once during 1993, nearly a third more than voted in the 1994 congressional elections and roughly the same number as claim to attend church regularly. Even after the 1980s' plunge in league bowling, nearly 3 percent of American adults regularly bowl in leagues.) The rise of solo bowling threatens the livelihood of bowling-lane proprietors because those who bowl as members of leagues consume three times as much beer and pizza as solo bowlers, and the money in bowling is in the beer and pizza, not the balls and shoes. The broader social significance, however, lies in the social interaction and even occasionally civic conversations over beer and pizza that solo bowlers forgo. Whether or not bowling beats balloting in the eyes of most Americans, bowling teams illustrate yet another vanishing form of social capital.
—Robert D. Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital,” Journal of Democracy, January 01, 1995
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