Amanda Marcotte suggests, in What Awful Reality TV and Suburban Living Have to Do With the Tea P... that suburban living isolates us socially. We've substituted soaps for neighborhood gossip, she says, causing a lack of empathy for those who differ from us.

We see the Tea Party as the fruit of particular land planning and communication media choices.

As social primates our brains are hard-wired for gossip. Do you think online "gossip" could possibly replace that social function? We don't really share personal details among a small group. Especially an international social network such as AN.

One reason I choose Atheist Nexus over Facebook is that empathy is more possible. Our rules of social conduct help.

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I do some of my socializing here, and some on YouTube's video comments sections. When I get out and about, it's so much better being in live, real conversations.

 

I sometimes seek out videos uploaded by religious people and make comments in an effort (usually successful) to start conversations.  Depending on the video's content, I sometimes chat pleasantly.  Other times, not so much.  :)

I read that article and I liked this statement:
"There’s likely a connection between the lack of empathy and the suburban nature of the conservative base. Research shows people tend to be more bigoted toward gays and those of different races when they have no personal connection with those people. Suburbs are known for breeding social homogeneity that does shelter people from humanizing those who are a little different than them. Beyond that, suburbs make it harder to develop a well-connected social life altogether.  Without that, it’s difficult to keep your empathy muscles, aka your ability to look at others and feel a common humanity with them. If you don’t use empathy, you lose it."

Those are good theories for the reason of the lack of empathy toward different people.
Empathy is more feasible here on AN -- is it because we are like-minded people who see "outside the box"?

Interesting irony

we are like-minded people who see "outside the box"

We are homogeneous, even if it's diversity-embracing.

I always wondered why I got stuck with crazy neighbors when most of my internet friends did not.  Now, I know why.  I actually know most of my neighbors.  I can't dog reality tv too much, because I do watch Hoarders and Intervention.  I want to understand why people get caught in these things.  Also,  I watch Hoarders on those low motivation days when I really don't want to clean the house or mow the yard.  One thing, I've learned from these shows, no one intends to end up in a hoarded house or addicted to  drugs.
You're right as far as I go. Urban and suburban anonymity, compared to rural and small town communities, attracted me to live here. As an atheist, polyamorous, bisexual, feminist I needed to escape the tight knit closed-minded community in which I grew up. I don't want to know my neighbors all that well.
You're right.  Now, if one of my neighbor's has a profanity rich screaming fight with their  imaginary friends, I'm blissfully unaware.

Maybe it's something to do with lack of willingness to see actual people,...

TV substituting for socializing explains so much in my life. I've become so picky about friends having similar values and personality styles that, for several years, I haven't had any friends. I have acquaintances, two close family members, and one cat. That's pretty much it. I write to my sister daily, and use the internet, but don't initiate getting together in the flesh. For decades I participated in various organizations, but dropped out after finding them disappointing. Stepping back, I can see how TV substitutes for socializing in my life.

But surely this phenomenon isn't limited to the US. TV is ubiquitous in the developed world.

I don't think social isolation makes me feel uncharitably superior, but I started with an egalitarian foundation. In a Dominatior culture, it's logical that it should manifest as feeling superior for others. I'm beginning to think the roots of our collapse as a society wells from our genetic programming as a social species interacting with media technology and land use patterns.

This makes me wonder why TV and suburban living might decrease a willingness to see people. Not just that suburban life makes it easier to avoid intrusive neighbors, and TV structures at home time and makes one not feel lonely, but why would they make me less interested in making friends? Does it have something to do with being able to turn off interpersonal drama or boring natter with a fingertip? Does that make me less patient with actual human beings?

Who needs friends?

You sound like me. I'm picky on friends too. It has a lot to do with my personality style though. I'm introverted - so I am not so good with being open to people. But once I do I can be a loyal friend. : )
Plus I am a loner - so I don't mind the social isolation.
I think the Internet has changed the way people socialize. I am actually better at expressing myself in writing than by speaking.
Maybe it is your personality style? Have you taken a personality test? I've taken several for psychology classes and career testing.
Love your Lolcat!

Part of it, for me, is a sensitivity to negative communication. There's a rule, found from examining which marriages work, that if the number of positive communications is 90% and negative is 10% or less, the marriage will last. But if the ratio of negative communication is higher, over the years the negatives increase and positives decrease, till there's silence or they break up.

In my marriage, well we both have graduate training in communications skills, the ratio is  99% or more positive. But when I'm with other people and hear one of them put down or invalidate another, it makes me cringe. Most people don't really notice. I not only notice, I feel angry and dismayed. Those comments are hurtful. You could say I'm spoiled. If a guy laughs at his wife's skills, opinions, or appearance, I'll remember all evening and it nags at me for days. If I hear a lot of negativity I'll never choose to spend time with those people again.

I don't like negativity either. It surprises me how some people seem to thrive on it.
After thinking about the positive side of TV as a social substitute, the negative side hit me - ads. Watching hours of TV integrates my mind to the global flow of information and money which mostly profits megacoroprations. I posted my thoughts on it elsewhere. Now I feel as if I'm betraying my values and authenticity every time I turn on prime time.
It's the worst during children's programing too.

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