Are you concerned about the loss of socialization in society?

See original post and follow up discussion on /r/slatestarcodex here

One year ago, I posted this question on here about how worried people were about screens as a distraction device. With respect to screens, much of the conversation is dominated by concerns about attention, loss of productivity or by social media induced anxiety. Beyond these concerns, it seems there is also a loss of socialization in our society. Don’t get me wrong, this clearly started far before the current rise of screens/addictive internet as famously argued in Bowling Alone, but it seems to me the trajectory for the loss of socialization in society has skyrocketed.

To be blunt, it appears there is an epidemic of loneliness.

Between remote work and addictive personalized internet environments, screens have displaced so many environments we previously shared with friends/peers.

It seems for many elements of our lives, we have stripped down each task into its constituent component and replaced the social aspect with a screen, forgetting the gestalt aspect of each activity.

Sure, watching a movie at a friend’s house isn’t that essential of an experience, but it is certainly very different than watching the same movie alone (let alone compared to both you and your friend binging separate shows you never speak about with anyone else). When doing activities with friends, you are likely to shoot the shit and talk about other topics that while trivial in each specific point are in the aggregate important; you are more likely to make future plans; you are more likely to start dating them etc.

Not only are we going out less as a result of (1) working from home (2) being more entertained when alone; it seems many of the institutions for socialization have reverted to an online first approach opposed to an IRL approach (ie dating, hobbyist interests).

Even when out in public, approaching others has become more challenging (inclusive of you looking at your phone so you have less of a need for socialization, the person you otherwise would have spoken to looking at their phone so they are less approachable, because we are more respectful of people’s privacy/anxiety that uninvited talk is unwelcome, fear of rejection is stronger when the gossip trap is larger/more present).

It seems many people are stuck in an equilibrium where each action is the “right” thing to do for that person (where spending time alone with a screen is chosen over doing something IRL with other people), but in the aggregate, it leaves many people individually and society collectively worse off.

Speaking personally, between working remotely from home and consuming literature/film/blogs at home after work, I often go several days without seeing any friends/family in real life and not even not noticing any loss. But looking back more, I clearly feel a holistic loss. Even though I’m a somewhat social person living in a city with tons of friends/family nearby and very active, I spend most of my time alone [for greater clarity – even when I am socially active most days, as a result of living alone and working remotely, the majority of my time is still spent by myself].

In light of the above, do you agree there is a loss of socialization in society? If so, are you concerned? How important of an issue is this? Are there easy fixes? Do you think this issue should have a higher salience in public discourse?