Dick Meyer offers his views on the large American Sociological Review study of isolation in America, which finds that our social networks have contracted sharply and we have fewer confidants today. Meyer:
Stop and think about that for a second. Almost half the people aroundyou have at most one person they feel they can talk to about what is most important to them. Seems like a pretty lousy social system we've got going here, doesn't it?
Technology is implicated, though perhaps not the technology you have in mind right now.
Though they are mostly into documenting not explaining, the authors do put out a couple of hypotheses. The main culprits are work time and commutes. Both have increased since 1985 and both take time away from families, friends and voluntary participation.
"Social Isolation in American: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades" can be found here.