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The End of Solitude

The End of Solitude is an interesting essay. It induces, in me at least, that odd mixture of “yes! that’s it!” and “no, not at all”. In periods of solitude and reflection, the world seems more real to me than it does in periods hustle, distraction, and busy-ness.
I partly agree with the author that: “we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude. Technology is taking away our privacy and our concentration, but it is also taking away our ability to be alone.” But it is over-stated. I admit I start twitching slightly when I have lost an internet connection for a while. My uneasiness with being disconnected is not due to social reasons. A large part of my thinking happens in conjunction with the internet – I’m constantly searching citations, sources, articles, resources I’ve tagged, and more. My connectivity is not only socially to other people, but intellectually to the work of others (much like reading a book is an intellectual connection to an author). The concept of how the self relates to the crowd and how much time we allot for reflecting and creative thinking is important. I see that as related more to personal habits than technology.

2 Comments

  1. Diana wrote:

    Until I recently relocated, I had the pleasure of living in a place that facilitated moments of solitude. Most Sundays were spent on a rock in Sedona, in the kayak out near Winslow or hiking in the forest. The phone was left in the car, a book and a journal were my companions. It was lovely. I think the key for me to enjoy those moments of solitude with the competing voice of technology was that I chose it, specifically made the choice to be quiet and alone. Now that I am in an urban setting, it is nearly impossible to find that solitude. I miss it.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  2. Joshua wrote:

    I completely agree with you that solitude is likely a result of habit versus technology. However, I am curious about the distinction you are making between social connections and intellectual connections. What is the difference between these different types of connections?

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 5:36 am | Permalink