Link to NYT article HERE.
The New York Times explored the relationship between social isolation and civic engagement in “Voting Alone,” by interviewing Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard University professor and author of Bowling Alone. Dr. Putnam’s research has demonstrated that loneliness diminishes trust and dissolves “social capital”, that is, the people-to-people connections that facilitate civic life. The question Dr. Putnam asks, “If you’re lonely and feel isolated, does that make you more likely not to engage with politics at all?”
The pandemic has increased people’s sense of social isolation. MAGNIFY seeks both to overcome loneliness and inspire civic engagement. When interviewed for “Voting Alone,” Dr. Sinclair explained that MAGNIFY was inspired by her interest in the social context that encourages collective action on governmental issues. She said, “If you can get a small group, you are much more likely to be heard, and these ties build social capital –you’re not bowling alone anymore.”
MAGNIFY provides a private venue in which individuals can connect with others who share their community concerns. By offering accessible, positive ways for individuals to affect change, it also inspires hope. Dr. Sinclair noted that often MAGNIFY projects impact the quality of everyday life. Through MAGNIFY residents in her local community have succeeded in placing a digital speed sign at a crosswalk, persuaded authorities to save a tree at a park, and encouraged a pizzeria to install a changing table in its men’s restroom.
The New York Times wrote of Dr. Sinclair in “Voting Alone” that, “She was suggesting that the way out of the pandemic could be a physical path paved by a digital one, proceeding one crosswalk at a time.”