Institutional religion, especially churches, are rapidly declining in America and there is no lack for explanations from all sides -religious and secular explanations.

Yet, any explanation for why religions are declining must also be able to explain why virtually every secular social institution, like the boy scouts, the free masons, and the NAACP, are also declining in membership.

It's not just churches, people just don't know how to be a part of a community anymore.

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Ok, THAT is getting screenshoted and shared with friends

@RL_Dane My personal pet theory: Television and in-home on-demand entertainment.

Being part of a community takes a little bit of work and risk. Watching television provides parasocial relationships that require no work and no risk. This encourages people to just forgo the work and risk of being involved in a community and just stay home and watch TV.

Also, social media provides the illusion of socializing with others without having to leave one's recliner.

@daver @RL_Dane Exactly. And it makes me think you care about me because we are interacting with each other regularly.

But if I asked you if I could come crash at your house for a weekend, that would be weird because you don't actually care about me at all. (That's okay.)

@1dalm @RL_Dane As McLuhan put it, TV is a "cool" medium because you passively watch. Anything that increases interactivity increases the "heat" of the medium.

@bradysflungtablet @1dalm @RL_Dane *nodding* so, academically speaking, Twitter is a hot mess, got it

@bradysflungtablet @redoak @1dalm

The poop: political posts, propaganda, disinformation, and manipulation
The fanning tail: Russian bots and propaganda accounts

@1dalm The Scouts had a massive pedophilia scandal followed almost immediately by attempting to blame gay Scouts and Scoutmasters for their problems before hosting Chump at the Jamboree, where he basically talked about his dick for an hour. Former Scouts across the country were FURIOUS. It's not that people don't know how to be a part of a community. It's that many organizations have failed their communities and don't want to confront how and why that happened.

@Dseitz Sure, ok. But what's your reason for the rapid decline of the Sons of the American Revolution? And the NAACP? And the Presbyterians... And why do you think so few people volunteer for local political campaigns today, or even national campaigns?

Your reason doesn't explain why all of this is happening at the same time... Has has been happening for decades, basically since the 70s. These declines aren't new and certainly weren't caused by Trump. There is a systemic problem.


The NAACP I can't speak to. I'm white. I would ask the Black community.

And my reasoning makes much more sense than some sort of amorphous "malaise." Communities, what they mean, who gets to be a part of them, and where they even exist have changed ENORMOUSLY in the last fifty years. Not a lot of organizations have reflected that, to my mind.

@Dseitz I don't follow your argument. (This is not a critique of the argument per se, I just actually don't understand what you mean.)

@1dalm millennials rejecting the beliefs and traditions of their parents, it could be cyclical/ generational

@simon the declines started well before millennials came of age. In fact, the declines of social institutions started in the 70s. The declines are thoroughly documented in Robert Putnam' book "Bowling Alone", which came out 20 years ago. (A highly recommended read on the topic.)

If it's a generational issue, then it started with the baby-boomers.

@simon Generational explanations simply don't explain the declines well enough. It's not exactly historically unheard of for one generation to reject the institutions of their parents, but historically when that happens the result is that the younger generation creates their own new institutions. But that's not happening. There aren't any meaningfully sized social institutions replacing the ones dieing.

Today the majority of people are not involved in any social organization.

@1dalm i think there's a few factors. Too much choice, for one. Computer games are amazing nowadays and perhaps tiktok/fortnite etc are stealing the affections and energy of the young and online generation. I saw a recent stat that showed tiktok sucking ever more hours a day of people's time, without the others reducing. It must be sucking the time from somewhere

@1dalm A lot of those old communities don't cater to anyone my age or younger (36), most of them are religious in nature, borderline cults, or just over-complicated excuses to get drunk away from home. The bigger a group is the less it seems to care about the individual as well.

The internet brought with it the ability to keep in contact with smaller, more specialized communities without a national org needed, so it should be no surprise their numbers are falling.

@raptor85 The biggest issue I have with the "internet is replacing traditional social communities" theory, is that most of these social communities started declining long before the internet was a thing. It's not hard to find old news paper articles bemoaning the decline of churches back in the 80s and 90s.

@raptor85 But that wouldn't matter to me at all if the internet was actually proving people good communities, but it's not. They are fake communities.

Just ask yourself a simple but dark question, if you never logged back into a social media site again, would anyone you interact with notice or care? Would anyone pick up the phone and call you to check to see if you were okay? If you are like most people, probably not.

@raptor85 Further, to address your main point, while "most" institutions aren't interested in attracting younger adults, certainly some are. Yet it's very difficult to identify ANY traditional social organization that isn't declining in participation and membership.

Sooner or later, our society has to recognize that we have a severe systemic social problem.

@1dalm I don't think anyone under the age of 60 confuses social media for friends groups/communities...hop on discord, find your local pokemon or MTG club, or robotics club, meet up, play games, built robots, make friends, do whatever. There's plenty of communities out there like this, go find what suits you and your friends, anyone who is only looking at these arcane religious groups is just blinding themselves by limiting their scope.

@1dalm In my deffense, I don't actually like people. My dumb monkey brain just needs to talk sometimes.

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