Friday, June 23, 2006

SOCIAL ISOLATION STUDY -- "Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States."

As the story points out, there is a significant debate about the explanations for this trend, including everything from the influence of TV and the internet to workplace habits and regulations.

I wonder whether this isn't a signal about role of trust and integrity, as those norms/mores/values relate to the function of a civil society. Perhaps the decrease in confidants we surround ourselves with is a symptom of (and/or cause of) a larger problem in the social fabric. I wonder how this trend relates to the trends in confidence schemes and other crimes or acts of perceived dishonesty (both individual and institutional). Just a guess, but perhaps one might find a positive correlation -- afterall, burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me.

I guess this is broader than just the crimes of fraud and corruption, but would include all manner of daily dishonesties -- from price gouging (airlines, gasoline, etc.) to excessive convenience fees and so on. All of it contributes to an atmosphere of perceived dishonesty, even though some acts of dishonesty are considered more consequential than others in a legal sense.