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Saturday, 18 March 2017

The love for solitude and fear of loneliness

My recent blog called “The unbearable heaviness of emptiness” inspired a friend to mention a different though slightly related subject. He said that he carefully avoids crowds while on vacation but dislikes being in the middle of nowhere. I have noticed that other people refer to this as solitary versus social. I doubt that these are true opposites. Most people will have a unique and preferred mix of both. Rarely one of these is 100%.

The love for solitude and fear of loneliness refers to this unique mix of solitary and social. In her book The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron "states that about 20% of the population finds itself exhausted and often overwhelmed by too much social activity and 80% has no such issue. But that 20% still needs a supportive community to interact with but with less face to face time than non-HSPs" (Quora).

I prefer (want, believe) being in the 20% group (love for solitude) but I still need social interaction, probably as I also fear loneliness. The idea of being all alone is not appealing. My preferred mix might be 80-20 or even 90-10. It depends on Time (e.g., season) and Space (e.g., location).

Solitary animals are often predators. That made me wonder about humans. The TV series Dexter (IMDb) would indeed confirm that solitary humans are “predators”. I consider myself as a predator for Knowledge. Some people are clear predators for Power (eg, my 2015 blogTIME). I do like – perhaps even love - Power but mostly in an informal capacity (informal power).

Noticing the terms “solitary confinement” and “mental health issues” pointed me in an unexpected direction. Too much social activity may create mental health issues and thus the love for solitude. Too little social activity causes (proven) mental health problems which may explain our fear of loneliness. Interestingly, a solitary activity like sleeping removes the toxins from our brain and thus improves our mental health (eg, BBC, my 2016 blog).

Young people may not recognise the above. Wherever you go you see young people with earphones, focused on the screens of their smartphones. Technology seems to create a paradigm shift from social activities towards apparent solitary behaviour. The information overload from social media is addictive and tempting. This phenomenon is called FOMO, the fear of missing out.

One group has not yet been mentioned: socialites. Wiki: "A socialite is a person (usually from a privileged, wealthy, or aristocratic background) who has a wide reputation and a high position in upper class society. A socialite spends a significant amount of time attending various fashionable social gatherings".

This blog has summarized several other blogs on 3 of these 4 compartments and puts them in a wider perspective. I've also learned more about myself while writing this blog which is an unexpected treat.

Fear And Love - Big Calm (1998) by Morcheeba - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2