"Society is afraid of alonedom." This is a line from a video from Andrea Dorfman. And it is true.
It is not only at this time of year where the focus is on togetherness and family. It seems that there is a cultural imperative not be alone. This seems reflected in the social networking. On sites like Facebook and Twitter, it is possible to chronicle the most mundane of personal activities. In addition, it is easy to accompany the text descriptions with up-to-the-minute photographs. This was what lunch looked like when it was served. Here's the plate when the meal was finished. This is a picture of dessert. This moment in human history might live virtually forever on some servers.
I believe that I am an anachronism. I like being alone. To have some solitary time is truly important for me.
I doubt that anyone is interested in what I had for breakfast [oatmeal] today or in the fact that yesterday was a laundry night [Tide detergent]. I am not grandiose enough to think that anyone cares about that day to day personal trivia [white socks in the evening, last night]. Nevertheless, I have succumbed to peer pressure. I do have a Twitter account and I even have a Facebook account. I rarely log onto Facebook [it makes me itch]. Perhaps I am missing the essential charm of the site. I simply don't understand the need to share personal minutia with friends, family and a community of 'would-be' friends whom I do not know. [I had a medium sized orange this morning.]
The fact that I like to be alone is disturbing to some people. In July of this year, I posted about having lunch alone: Table for One, Please
. I was shocked at some of the reactions of real life friends to that article. Some said that they could "never
" do that. It would be embarrassing. It would be uncomfortable. Appetite would disappear. In fact, it was wonderful to sit and have a meal by myself.
Is that odd?
If it seems odd, then here are a few more personal oddities. I believe that any cell phone call before 8 AM is a sign of trouble. Sometimes, I like to go to the park and just sit. Sitting is an activity. The word 'sit' is a verb. The sitting does not have to be coupled with anything else. It is not 'sit and read'. It is not 'sit and think'. It is simply to sit - alone. If I am out for a run, I am comfortable to run by myself. I am fine if there is a dog with me, as long as the dog does not want to engage in some meaningful dialogue. And most dogs who know me can understand that I don't want a conversation. They are fine with that.
People, though, have a different perspective than the dogs. They are uncomfortable with the aloneness. There is the encouragement to 'bring a date' to a social gather. Really, it is entreaty. Appearing alone at a social function is uncomfortable for the hosts. Table setting and plans are done in even numbers. Pairs. An odd number is disconcerting, especially when it is a female involved.
Least one thinks that this is a reflection of social isolation, it is not. Most of my activities involve people. Each hour during the work day is filled with human interaction and questions that need to be answered. Too often, the answers have significant consequences. There is little room for error. In fact, many time there is no room for mistakes. For me, the 'alone time' provides some balance.
That time alone, however, is so often misconstrued. Culturally, alone means lonely. This is not the case personally. Nevertheless, it is a choice that frequently is not respected. There are social pressures. Aloneness pushed the boundaries of social acceptability.
There is a video by Andrea Dorfman - and performed by Tanya Davis - that addresses the aloneness issue brilliantly. I would like to share it with you, over the privacy of the internet. [Hell, yes, I am mentioning this on Twitter, too!]