I found an interesting passage in the book I'm currently reading ("The Age of Insanity" by John F. Schumaker, 2001) that I thought would be a good discussion topic on this forum: "Modernity has seen the 'other' become largely hypothetical, a development that has been magnified by the disappearance of local space and the subsequent rise of cyber caring and purely conjectural relationships. Cultural greed has thinned human involvements even more and replaced unification tendencies with an accounting process that assesses the exchange value of relational investment. One of the most interesting social compensation strategies is petism, as increasing numbers of people develop overly close relationships to pets. Petism has been described as a new culture-bound disorder that is becoming increasingly common in modern Western culture. By contrast, it does not exist in traditional non-Western cultures, where social relations and community ties a relatively intact. The interpersonal vacuum that fuels petism has seen a proliferation of pet hotels, pet restaurants, and pet psychologists. In its new role, the pet can help fill the void left by the disappearance of the confidant in modern life. Pet owners can communicate their thoughts and emotions, and obtain comfort in the knowledge that they have a listening ear. Many moderns cannot access this form of mutual receptivity via human channels. Ultimately, the hypothetical public proves unable to meet people's relatedness needs, thereby increasing the attraction to the nonhuman world. Pets are the great unsung heroes of the modern age, and their psychological value as antidotes to loneliness cannot be overestimated." I'm curious if people agree with all of this, some of it, or none of it. Why?