Maclean's has published an interesting article by Brian Bethune in which he discusses two books, The Vanishing Neighbour by Marc Dunkelman, and The Village Effect, by Susan Pinker.
Although I'm less convinced by the propositions about how "our increasingly closed-off lives are poisoning our politics", I'm especially interested in the importance of sociability to our health.
In particular, he talks about Pinker's findings:
She argues that humans need face-to-face contact, as they need air and water. We have evolved for it, to the extent that those surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends who regularly gather to eat—and, crucially, gossip—live an average of 15 years longer than loners. Quality face-to-face contact is essential for a social species, Pinker writes, citing research that shows it fortifies immune systems, calibrates hormones and increases chances of surviving heart attacks, strokes, AIDS and cancer. “People with the most integrated social lives—overlapping relationships among friends, family, sports and other recreational or religious pursuits—have the best prognoses,” with the most life-threatening diseases.
Wow! Fifteen years!
It's a fascinating article and one that I recommend.