The Economist features "Survey of America: Degrees of Separation" in the July 16 issue.
One of the topics taken up is the Bowling Alone thesis. As many had suspected, there is also good news and it has to do with the internet.
"... if you go to meetup.com, you can type in where you live and what your interests are -- say Young Republicans, Chihuahua fanciers or Brazilian reggae -- and the site will tell you where and when Young Republicans, Chihuahua fanciers and Brazilian reggae enthusiasts are meeting up withing 15 miles of your home over the next two weeks. ... Since 2002, Meetup has been the forum for over 100,000 clubs with 2m members. This spring there were 2,400 Meetup meetings of the like-minded, of people with particular tastes in common ..."
The pessimists do not even have to get out more. It's all there on your browser.