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My own theory has to do with generational divides. In my experience, baby boomers like to congregate with each other. Some specifically denigrated older generations, and some express fear and distance from younger generations.

I grew up in the 1970s during the baby bust, and I remember my parents telling stories from their childhood of kids gathering after school for pick-up football and baseball games and weekends where once chores where done they ran wild and free outside until dusk.

My childhood in the fifth largest city in the state during the 70s and 80s was parents seemed scared to let their kids out of the house. Between latch-key kids, kids bumping between two houses due to divorce, and fear of drugs, racism, and greater awareness of sexual predators, I personally didn't get too many chances to mix with friends outside of school.

This has gotten worse by the time I am raising my own kids. We lived in a neighborhood that felt safe, was mixed racially and different ages, and lots of kids. But they rarely played outside. Two generations later in the 2000's, I would send my kids outside to play on a Saturday morning, and by lunch they would have canvassed the neighborhood, even knocking on doors to see if "Susie" would come out to play. Sometimes they would be invited in to play video games, but rarely would any kids come out to play outside. Parents feel they have to always guard their kids, can't leave them out of their sight.

So now they are teens, and are very used to being by themselves. At least they like to be with each other.

Personally I feel this is a great loss. I sense a lot of fear- and control- based corporate and political marketing behind this. If we can't just make friends of strangers and feel good, maybe we will buy some product that the TV (now YouTube)shows "makes" people feel good. Friendship is no longer free; it costs money or loss of privacy on Facebook. How intimate can an online friendship monitored by Google be?

Meta: I am posting this online for strangers to read, not talking this over in a pub with some guy or girl I just met.
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