If that was ever really the case.

Modern life seems to cause us to long for an earlier era when .... Frankly, I'm not sure what we're supposed to be longing for. One possible explanation for the reason we light candles on Shabbat is that back in those old days everybody when to sleep with nightfall, except on erev Shabbat when they didn't have to get up early the next morning to go to work. People were thus in a position to stay awake and enjoy the evening - but that was difficult to do because it was dark. So they lit candles. In this sense, candles might be considered a community building tool, in the same sense that bowling leagues were for Putnam - a "tool" that permitted people to congregate, to be together. But it's a fair guess that "community" existed well before bowling.

And perhaps there were social critics who saw bowling as destructive to community - after all, instead of a group of people sitting together and quietly discussing a topic, when they're bowling one person is always getting up and temporarily leaving the group, and when he or she returns, another member gets up to leave.

It's worth noting here that when Putnam wrote of "bowling alone" he was apparently (I don't have a copy of the book on my shelf) specifically referring to a decline in bowling leagues. But that doesn't necessarily mean that instead people bowl alone - they can still meet in groups that are organized in various ways, and these groups may still carry a certain degree of "social capital".

Go to: The internet and some of its discontents.