Influential books like “Bowling Alone,” by Robert D. Putnam, and “Alone Together,” by Sherry Turkle have explored the atomizing effect that modern technology is having on our relationships and communal structures. But unlike those who've produced "vague theories" about how digital technology is changing our lives, sociologist Keith Hampton sought to use hard data to answer questions like: "Are we really all just walking around tapping and tweeting and texting and ignoring our fellow human beings? Was there a pre-smartphone Eden?"
What did they find? "According to Hampton, our tendency to interact with others in public has, if anything, improved since the ‘70s," writes Mark Oppenheimer. As confounding as that conclusion is, the team's most surprising finding was that: "Today there are just a lot more women in public, proportional to men."
"Across the board, Hampton found that the story of public spaces in the last 30 years has not been aloneness, or digital distraction, but gender equity," concludes Oppenheimer.