Eric Klinenberg

You've heard it all before: Still not married? How can you live in such a small apartment? Don't you want kids? Have you even tried OkCupid? Don't you worry that you'll die alone, no one will know, and your corpse will be eaten by your cats? But in fact, as the city with the third-highest percentage of people living alone (41.3 percent, per the U.S. Census, behind Atlanta and DC), Seattle may be leading a new demographic trend. And, according to NYU sociology professor Eric Klinenberg, singletonism—to use the scientific term—is increasingly the new norm. There's nothing solitary or unhealthy about it, he says in Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (Penguin, $27.95). "Living alone seems to encourage more, not less, social interaction," he writes. And more, contrary to stereotype, "Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections." Beyond the obvious factors of real-estate, divorce, empty nests, the death of a spouse, etc., single-person households are ideally suited to urban density and the modern economy. Large families were once necessary to run the farm; but today, all those new Amazon office workers in SLU may prefer to chart their own path from cubicle to condo. Klinenberg addresses both real-estate and marriage in his book. For instance, 22 percent of American adults were single in 1950, before the Pill, the sexual revolution, and no-fault divorce. And today? Nearly 50 percent of adults are unwed—some unhappily, sure, but not everyone is miserable and pining for a partner. And you wanna know some other advantages to the single life? Your computer password can always be "password." You can talk to your cat without shame. Unlimited shower time. There's no arguing over the TV remote. The toilet seat is always in the same position where you left it. And you can drink straight from the milk bottle without reprimand. BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Feb. 29, 7:30 p.m., 2012

 
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