One of the telling features of modern world is that a person can live perfectly comfortably by himself or herself. Historically, people lived together as a large family for many reasons: poverty, food, safety, traditions, money, inheritance laws and such. In many parts of the world—Asia, Africa, some parts of Europe and Latin America— these reasons still play a big role in making people live together. However, most people in Western countries have long abandoned the notion of living together in order to gain some benefits; instead, they prefer the convenience of living alone. Is it a good or bad thing?
Apart from being a philosophical question, living alone seems to be a practical question for many in Western world. However, first we have to define what it means to live alone. According to most researchers, it means literally living alone: there is no spouse, children, parents, or other relatives living with a person in question in his/her house. It is understandable. Given contemporary economic conditions, many people have to move frequently around the country or world to find a job. As such, close proximity to their families and friends often becomes impossible. A person has to establish a single household. According to Eric Klinenberg, the N.Y.U. sociology professor and author of the book Going Solo, in the 1950s about 22 percent of Americans households were single; nowadays the number is about 50 percent. The increase in single households is quite astonishing.
There are some obvious explanations. People are no longer ostracized because of living alone; it is becoming a norm. Moreover, compared to the 1950s, many women became quite capable of living by themselves, thus escaping centuries-old paradigm of being tied up to their husbands or families. As such, number of single households has increased. Moreover—thanks to modern technologies—most of us are now connected through the web, which gives us an illusion of being together with our families and friends, though virtually.
However, the increased popularity of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and similar vividly symbolize both our isolation and our yearning for a company. While we no longer share the facts of our lives with our relatives or neighbors face-to-face, we still want to share these details with them (and with some strangers along the way) via social media. Does it make us feeling closer to anybody? The question is still in the making. The whole phenomenon of social media is too new to recognize its long-term effects on our society. Surely, living alone allows for many benefits: doing whatever one wants without a fear of reprimand; spending money for what one wants (thus helping the country’s economy); having time to devote oneself to charitable causes one wants; freedom to pursue one’s passions and talents with abandon, and similar. On the other hand, can anything substitute for pleasure on your family members’ faces every day when you come home?
It is a personal question for everyone. One thing to remember is that every person’s life is precious and it is be better spent worthwhile, alone or with others.