“I often run across people who have gone back to menial work in their 60s and 70s because they just want to get out of the house. When you ask them more questions, you find that they are devoted to home and work, but that they often don’t have rich connections outside these spheres. Many of their friends came through work, but those friendships tend to fade away when the job ends. There are older people who feel unneeded. There are younger people who feel lost. Somehow these longing souls never find each other.
Suburbia isn’t working. During the baby boom, the suburbs gave families safe places to raise their kids. But now we are in an era of an aging population, telecommuting workers and single-person households. The culture and geography of suburbia are failing to nurture webs of mutual dependence.
We are animals who can’t flourish unless we can’t get along without one another. Yet one finds too many people thrust into lives of semi-independence.
These are not the victims of postindustrial blight I’m talking about; they are successful people who worked hard and built good lives but who are left nonetheless strangely isolated, in attenuated communities, and who are left radiating the residual sadness of the lonely heart.”
David Brooks, Dignity and Sadness in the Working Class, New York Times, 20 Sep. 2016