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America the Lonesome

"Americans, plugged in and on the move, are confiding in their pets, their computers, and their spouses. What they need is to rediscover the value of friendship. ... Today 'friends' are everywhere in our culture—the average Facebook user has 130—and friendship, of a diluted kind, is our most characteristic relationship: voluntary, flexible, a 'lite' alternative to the caloric meshugaas of family life. But in restricting ourselves to the thin gruel of modern friendships, we miss out on the more nourishing fare that deeper ones have to offer. Aristotle, who saw friendship as essential to human flourishing, shrewdly observed that it comes in three distinct flavors: those based on usefulness (contacts), on pleasure (drinking buddies), and on a shared pursuit of virtue—the highest form of all."
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