As of 2022, it is estimated that just over 3,000,000 ‘Mericans live in their vehicle full time (most are living alone). That’s almost 1% of the population. Most modern countries also have around 30% of the adult population living alone in conventional housing. If you add in the official estimate of urban homeless in the USA, it is at least another 600,000 (most are alone). And it seems these same estimators guess that approximately 250,000 people live off-the-grid lifestyles that are fixed on land (fewer of those people are alone). Based on the number of YouTubes and blogs, I think there are more OTG’ers than that……
That’s a lot of lonely people.
Canada has almost 300 official communities (100+ in the north) that are ‘off-the-grid’, off-the-conventional-grid, anyway. Approximately 200,000 people live in-community like that. They might have a community generator, community well and have seasonal road access but, for the most part, they are NOT plugged into national, provincial or even regional district ‘grids’. Nor are they plugged into the larger communities. They are small groups of alone people.
But, then again, so many OTG’ers I am aware of are not living in-community at all. They live remote, maybe in a small clutch near others but, for all comparable intent, they are totally independent and very much alone. I cannot guess…but I will…say another 50,000 for Canada?
I mean…for example, those (in our area) are not in-community in any measurable/conventional way with shared roads, stores, water or power (but we do have a two-room school)….everyone out here is independent of everyone else (but we share a few random community docks now and then) and each home is standing at least one square kilometer apart (but we occasionally help one another)…so….I dunno….alone or not alone? Whatever the right answer is: we are not close and crowded.
Canada has an official estimate of 235,000 people also living homeless and, given that we are somewhat comparable to the US in many ways, I am guessing we have at least 100,000 living in vehicles (our climate likely reduces the usual statistical comparison rate of 10% of the numbers in the US).
Bottom line: a lot of people (tens of millions) are off the radar, off the grid, off the count-sheet and many are living alone and remote. In fact, Statistics Canada estimates almost one-in-three Canadians also live alone in urban areas! That’s incredible to me. That’s 10% of the population or almost 4 million live alone in Canada. In the USA, it is 38 million.
“Dave! What’s your point?”
I do not know what my point is or even what it should be but it seems to me that a society, a civilization, particularly our Western culture that has so many left out, opted out or not even counted; a society that has so many ‘barely included’, a huge number of those not-alone but living lonely lives (apartment dwellers not knowing their neighbours) all suggests that it is not a healthy society in which to live happily. If you adjust those numbers for those in jail, those who are newly arrived immigrants, illegal migrants, those obsessing over careers and fame and money, it feels as if there is no real, bona fide social society….well, not to me, anyway.
Put more bluntly: I think we may be seeing the emergence of the vanguard of the alienated (VA). The VA are an emerging subset?
The VA are, so far, not a thing (I kind of made it up)…not a big topic in the media, not a big category in the numbers or stats or data. Marketers aren’t aiming at them. The closest this phenomena has come to being a mainstream topic was Nomadland (a 2020 pseudo documentary starring Francis McDormand) and the advent of solar panels. But I think they will become an official ‘category’ soon enough. Furthermore, with Covid, working from home, telecommuting and the gig economy, the numbers are increasing every year.
People are checking out….one way or another…..
I am just musing here….but maybe the nomads and the lonely, the isolated and the remote, the OTG’ers and the gig-economy workers are the real life versions of the oft imagined/referenced Zombies in the imagined Zombie Apocalypse? I mean…if I am one of them, I am a happy Zombie but I am definitely not fully engaged in the society as a ‘regular’. And, it turns out, I am not alone. There could be as many as 50M VAs in North America alone.
Orson Welles once said: “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.
Today he might add.…..”and it seems that our force for love and friendship is currently waning.”
The more online tools we have, the less we seem to be able to really communicate. The number of isolated and lonely people is terrifying. On the other hand, thanks to internet, we are able to communicate!
I was with you right until the last comment. We are social animals!
Well, last comment (Wim) suggested that the ‘net’, by way of social media, (emails, texting, tweeting) is a means by which loneliness might possibly be addressed. And, I suppose, ZOOM calls add a little je ne se quois, n’est pas? Personally – and it is likely just me – but I find most social media alienating. It isn’t intimate enough for me. Ironically, I am somewhat attached to my blog and email peeps so clearly some of it works for me. But most of it does not…….
But if you meant my last sentence hypothetically attributed to Orson Welles…”and it seems that our force for love and friendship is currently waning.” I think I am gonna stick with that. We are social animals but we are not very good at it.
How did that Beatles song go?
“Ahhhh look at all the lonely people. Where do they all come from…?”
Some people want to live on their own.
As I see my male friends skinned alive in divorce court …
As I see my married friends deal with their kids in the politically correct school system learning confusing gender identity topics.
As I see my co workers spend more than they earn on toys , trinkets and trips.
I’m quite happy on my own.
A stack of books to read.
Nutty blogs to comment on.
“Slob for a day” may last….a week.
Nothing wrong with being alone.
I’m reminded of the old saying,
” The more people I meet….the more I like my dog…”
I guess I need a dog.
Ditto. My sentiments exactly. Those I love, I truly love. Everyone else? Meh. Am I antisocial? Yes and no….mostly yes. Thus this blog about living OTG. Humans can be great! But most aren’t. They are fine… just not great. Do we need 8 billion of em? Nah. It’s a good gene pool but now’s a good time to select and move on. Sadly, I will not make the cut. I’m OK with that.
My social connections have shattered over the last 4-5 years, Dave, and recently I have been feeling rather lonely, although not lonely enough to join a church. So you need to add all those people who feel lonely to the number of people who live alone, and it is clear that there is a huge and growing number of the VA. This may be why, at least in Australia, the suicide rate is skyrocketing.
That’s sad to hear about OZ suicides. Just as sad to hear that you feel lonely yourself. But know that you are always welcome here and that means in person or on-line. I wrote what I wrote because I am more alienated as well (I try to write what I am feeling at the time) but, to be fair, I chose it and I am happier for it. Not sad. We are more alone and yet consider that good. Mind you, I was usually swimming in social activity and up to my neck in people-to-see back in the city. It was relentless. OTG was and is a relief and we still had 110 visitor days the first year we were here. Covid dropped that to about a dozen last year. So, it’s all relative and personal. But it was the sheer numbers that I read about that made me think about it as a phenomena not well described. Oh, one more thing….women need women, it seems. Sal has quilting, bookclub, yoga and a number of little meetings and gatherings OTG. I have one – we meet twice a year….thinking of cutting that back to once. Still, bottom line: lives are lonelier these days.
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That’s kind of you and Sal, Dave. I could get out more if I really felt like it. All those visitors! You didn’t go remote enough.
Yeah, more than a few times we said just that, “We did not go far enough!” Having said that, we loved ’em all. Still do. It’s just that the sheer volume got a bit taxing. In a weird way, Covid gave a needed respite.
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Don’t misunderstand my comment. I don’t like social media, but it is th only way for now that you and me communicate, so I am thankful for that. In general, I hate social media because it is superficial and most people spend too much time before their multiple screens, hence the loss of social contact.
And I agree with noncon, get a dog! It’s the most wonderful creature to be part of your life. We also have one, and it made our lives much richer. My dog is ALWAYS happy to see me, always in a good mood, loyal, supporting. I prefer him over a lot of people I know.
Fortunately there are also my real friends (although their number is not that big, but that’s fine with me)
Yep. Dogs. Totally goofy. Always happy to see me – even if I just went upstairs! They really are a constant source of joy. And I am very lucky – so is Sal like that. She handles my going up and down stairs better but I am always greeted with a huge smile when I have been away. Makes my day. Still, Va is a ‘thing’. It’s real. It’s gonna show up more….
So many things to comment on today. First our western society, if you will, is failing. Failing our public systems we have taken for granted, just about all of them from health to food supply. WHO says the earths population will peak in 2050 (none to soon) we will need to sustain not growth as has been in the past. Not only are more people being alone those that are together are having less sex. I am a social person, need to solve the worlds problems over a coffee with my bike group (2-6 of us) used to be a beer but to expensive now. Part of a Rotary Club trying to make a difference at least for a few. My long time sailing friends never get tired of meeting up with. As we do when we show up at your place. How about people taking control of themselves and get out there join walking, hiking, riding, book clubs and many more. By the way I am also fine alone. Single mom through the first seven years and no siblings. Fortunately like David I got lucky with a special partner.
No question, I got lucky. Super lucky. But I was at least a smidge deserving. You? You won the lottery and didn’t even buy a ticket!