Using the data from the most recent American Time Use Survey, one man created a series of charts meant to visually demonstrate how exactly Americans are spending their time in relation to each other. The charts, like the data itself, mostly reveal self-explanatory information, such as the fact that as people get older, they spend less time with their parents and friends and more time with their partner and co-workers (until retirement). Time spent with children obviously followed the natural trajectory of parenthood, with the amount of time spent around children peaked at four hours a day for those in their mid-30s to early 40s.
But while the majority of data resulted in obvious conclusions, there was one set of data that revealed something very sad and very true about American society: as we get older, the time we spend alone continues to increase. While time spent with other groups slowly but surely decreases over the course of our lives, we spend much more time by ourselves. This may seem obvious, but seeing this data visually represented is shocking, especially when you realize that if an American lives past 80, he or she is spending eight hours of every day by themselves — not including sleep.
This revelation is tragic because it is a distinctly American issue. Many other cultures prioritize taking care of their elderly, treating the elderly as important parts of the family with many extended generations living together under one roof. The notion that when you’re older most of your time is spent alone is a disappointingly common problem, but one that needs to be understood and reconciled. Because while you likely crave alone time now, it’s not something to look forward to later in life.