Live alone? You're not alone
Desperate for human contact, New Yorker Jeff Ragsdale posted flyers inviting people to call him. He signed them: "Jeff, One Lonely Guy." He has since fielded about 70,000 calls. (CBS)
"Women do a much better job when they're living alone," said Klinenberg. "They tend to make and maintain relationships much better than men throughout the life course, whereas for men it's much more likely that they will wind up feeling lonely or unhappy or isolated."
Case in point: Forty-year-old New Yorker Jeff Ragsdale. He describes waking up alone as "hell."
"It's very sad," he told Spencer. "Or going to bed, you know, alone constantly by yourself, eating alone. And also there's nothing worse than being sick by yourself. You're lying in bed watching the world go by and wondering, 'How did I get so alone?'"
Ragsdale didn't seek solitude; his girlfriend broke up with him. Desperate for human contact, he did the only logical thing: He posted flyers all over Manhattan inviting people to call. He signed them: "Jeff, One Lonely Guy."
"My guard was down, I was completely stripped. I'm basically posting this flyer that says I'm a loser, you know?" he laughed. "It wasn't a fun thing to put those up. But I needed to talk to people. So I go, 'I'm just going to rip my skin off, and I'm going to do it and let the cards fall.'"
Ragsdale expected a handful of calls. What he got was a full time job - and enough material for a book. He said he's had close to 70,000 responses by now - and six months later, he's still manning the phone.
"People from all over the world, well-wishers, and then I also became, like, a confession booth for some of these people - a marriage, relationship counselor, sex counselor, school counselor."
The response has convinced Ragsdale that, despite the trends, living alone is not a natural state of affairs. He says people who claim they can thrive on solitude and the freedom it suggests are "a very small percentage of people. And those people I would suggest are wired differently, 'cause it's completely against our instincts."
So the debate rages. Was John Donne right or wrong with his claim, "No man is an island"?
Island or no island, the waters all around us do seem to be shifting.
For more info:
- "Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone" by Eric Klinenberg (Penguin)
- "All the Single Ladies" by Kate Bolick (The Atlantic)