The final presentation in Alabama A&M University’s popular Books and Coffee Series (April 24) highlighted Robert Putnam’s 2000 book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.” Presented by English instructor Jody Jones, the book focuses on the decline of social interaction in America, examining ways old social interactions are being replaced by newer models of social discourse. PHOTOS
Contributing to the author’s notion of the decline of human interaction are such elements as generational change, television and other forms of mass media, differences in family structure, as well as mobility and sprawl, noted Jones, during a presentation in the Learning Resources Center.
“People are happy on their own island, at their own home,” commented Jones. “People feel that they don’t have to interact because they have everything they need.”But Jones counters that human beings do, in fact, “need each other.”
There is a sort of village cohesiveness in neighborhood get-togethers and parties. Materialism, said Jones, has made people forget the importance of belongingness, adding that the lack of human interaction also means that the community misses out on such milestones as graduations, birthdays, etc.
“There is no substitute for bonding,” said Jones, stating that social media (i.e., Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has both good and bad aspects. She noted in particular social media’s “false sense” of connectedness.
“Many old things are our foundation and shouldn’t be thrown away,” said Jones. “Community is a value that shapes us.”
The annual Books and Coffee Series at Alabama A&M University provides faculty members a chance to share some of their favorite books with students, colleagues, and the community.
- Jerome Saintjones