Inspired by the comment about Sims 2, I'd like to talk about it. Comapanies make money off of our loneliness by giving us replacements. But don't let us actually solve the problem, because then they can't continue making money. Cable TV, video games, porn, casual sex...all these things are drugs that make us feel better for awhile. When it's over though, we feel strangely empty.
We've not had strong community life in America for a hundred years. That's right, a hundred years. How can you know what is wrong when you've never known anything different? How can you miss someone you've never met? Yet we do. Granted, things weren't perfect back then (at all) but at least you had community, which helped ease the loneliness. I still think the Hutterites have the right idea; barn raising, close-to-the-Earth living, no TV or cars, etc.
Since we all love examples, I'll give you a few to flesh this out.
Example one: gangs in ghettos. Kids grow up without a strong community such as church or extended family, without either a good intellect of a good education, and what happens? They form gangs for support, for family ties, for success. They form "tribes", because having no tribe at all is scary and unnatural to our animal natures.
Another example of the paucity of community in our lives and how it affects us: TV. We form entire LJ comms devoted to our TV shows in order to have a shared culture to talk about. We leave the TV on for companionship when the house gets too quiet. We distract ourselves with entertainment.
The things that have eaten away at community are:
-easy personal transportation
The car...OMG, don't get me started on how isolating the car is to our society. Too late.
Having cars allows us to have our own flexible work schedule. We no longer have to depend on others for transportation.
-the importance of money
OMG, I've got this entire swollen idea in my head and it just won't come out. This could be an entire graduate thesis. Everyone is oblivious to it and ignores it because loneliness is a sign of social undesireability and a social pariah. YET WE ARE ALL LONELY. Our culture is one of "suck it up and deal with". It is a culture of victim blaming. We wonder why WE are lonely, and we are encouraged to do so, because then we don't examine why SOCIETY is lonely. Society comes across as blameless if it's OUR fault that we are lonely. We never stop to consider how our culture enforces our loneliness. Since it's OUR FAULT we are lonely, we are seen as inferior and in need of fixing. We need drugs, we need therapy, we need something to come to terms with how we are feeling. Culture and society come across as innocent. We hide it because it's not OK to talk about how lonely we are, we hide it away, try to suck it up because it's our fault, not the lack of community.
We don't have anything to compare a good community to except maybe elementary school and that experience goes away quickly. I have got to get this understanding out of my head, it's like I'm pregnant in the head. This is the root cause of a large portion of society's problems. Think about it. You'll see our economy has an interest in keeping us medicated, numb and lonely, and our government does too. A population, sated and yet yearning for more, sitting safely behind their TV's is much more apathetic and easier to fool. The government can get away with shenanigans such as pay raises if we are drugged.
Granted, community is not a fix for everything.
Also, I'm seeing we can't fix this. At all. You can either have money or you can have community. It's like a slider on the control board of society; one side reads "community", one side reads "wealth". One always develops at the expense of the other.
I'll quit now because I'm not making sense and I'm hungry. It's like in horror movies where the character can't say where the montster is because they are too scared and excited to form the words, except in this case it's quite complex.