The Importance Of Being Alone

58728442_8ebe99d8faIn a hyper-connected world, does spending time alone provide a unique and increasingly elusive form of freedom? The Boston Globe extols the virtues of solitude, which a growing body of study suggests is essential for mood, memory, creativity, and sanity:

You hear it all the time: We humans are social animals. We need to spend time together to be happy and functional, and we extract a vast array of benefits from maintaining intimate relationships and associating with groups.

But an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking.

There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone.

“There’s so much cultural anxiety about isolation in our country that we often fail to appreciate the benefits of solitude,” said Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University whose book “Alone in America,” in which he argues for a reevaluation of solitude, will be published next year. “There is something very liberating for people about being on their own. They’re able to establish some control over the way they spend their time. They’re able to decompress at the end of a busy day in a city…and experience a feeling of freedom.”

48 Comments on "The Importance Of Being Alone"

  1. People with no respect for time spent alone tend to not have their own personality. Now with things like Facebook you can spend your entire life socializing or at least feeling like you are; you never have to feel alone again. Isn’t that wonderful?

  2. People with no respect for time spent alone tend to not have their own personality. Now with things like Facebook you can spend your entire life socializing or at least feeling like you are; you never have to feel alone again. Isn’t that wonderful?

  3. Opt out from the off

  4. Opt out from the off

  5. grooveboss | Mar 22, 2011 at 11:44 pm |

    thus we have to take showers!!!! Alone

  6. grooveboss | Mar 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

    thus we have to take showers!!!! Alone

  7. Anonymous | Mar 23, 2011 at 12:03 am |

    I spend nearly all my time alone in a studio with my phone turned off. Sometimes I think it’s driving me mad. I guess I can put it down to poor ventilation and turpentine.

  8. dumbsaint | Mar 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm |

    I spend nearly all my time alone in a studio with my phone turned off. Sometimes I think it’s driving me mad. I guess I can put it down to poor ventilation and turpentine.

  9. I will say however, showers can be fun when you’re not alone though

  10. I almost never shower alone. I like showering with my lady much better.

  11. poets have already talked about it.

  12. poets have already talked about it.

  13. I have taken some personal retreats and they were very nice. I liked them

  14. I have taken some personal retreats and they were very nice. I liked them

  15. Drinky McGee | Mar 23, 2011 at 11:40 am |

    This should come as wonderful news to a lot of the folks who post here.

  16. Drinky McGee | Mar 23, 2011 at 7:40 am |

    This should come as wonderful news to a lot of the folks who post here.

  17. Definitely a part of resisting being along and unplugged is that people want confirmation and assurance from others like them that they’re part of an accepted group, and that what they’re doing is all right. I see people who can’t keep their noses out of their little toys like smartphones and things and the vacant look in their eyes is palpable. This is also why Xians MUST go to church on Sunday and otherwise keep religious stuff about them, whether it is Xian FM Radio, or occult jewelry or post on Facebook about how goddamned blessed they are, etc.

    I think if ppl would tune out and just be by themselves for a few minutes consistently, maybe take a book with them, like some light reading by James Joyce or somesuch, they might be able to say “WAIT A MINNIT” and actually begin to question a few things. But no, they turn the channel to Pox News and then throw away the remote so they don’t get influenced by other unsanctioned information.

    This is also true for Atheists who make sure to follow Dawkins on Twitter and check out the YouTube channels the atheists make and generally keep themselves connected to that datastream. An ideology must be maintained constantly because the cosmos will wipe it’s behind with one that hasn’t been.

    I really do think subconsciously, that ppl realize if they stopped soaking in their own cultural juices for a while, they’d end up questioning everything they know (which is just what the culture told them was real).

    On this same note, a perfect cure for atheism and/or Xianity is just to be by yourself, sit in a chair for about a quarter hour and just stare into space. You won’t be alone for long.

    Fiat lux

  18. Definitely a part of resisting being along and unplugged is that people want confirmation and assurance from others like them that they’re part of an accepted group, and that what they’re doing is all right. I see people who can’t keep their noses out of their little toys like smartphones and things and the vacant look in their eyes is palpable. This is also why Xians MUST go to church on Sunday and otherwise keep religious stuff about them, whether it is Xian FM Radio, or occult jewelry or post on Facebook about how goddamned blessed they are, etc.

    I think if ppl would tune out and just be by themselves for a few minutes consistently, maybe take a book with them, like some light reading by James Joyce or somesuch, they might be able to say “WAIT A MINNIT” and actually begin to question a few things. But no, they turn the channel to Pox News and then throw away the remote so they don’t get influenced by other unsanctioned information.

    This is also true for Atheists who make sure to follow Dawkins on Twitter and check out the YouTube channels the atheists make and generally keep themselves connected to that datastream. An ideology must be maintained constantly because the cosmos will wipe it’s behind with one that hasn’t been.

    I really do think subconsciously, that ppl realize if they stopped soaking in their own cultural juices for a while, they’d end up questioning everything they know (which is just what the culture told them was real).

    On this same note, a perfect cure for atheism and/or Xianity is just to be by yourself, sit in a chair for about a quarter hour and just stare into space. You won’t be alone for long.

    Fiat lux

    • Isn’t this special. You on your high horse bemoaning the users of technology while using the technology yourself. I call that a hypocrite.

  19. grooveboss | Mar 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    If am taking a shower with a lady the shower is the last thing on my mind so i might as well be anywhere. But gross man do the cleansing of your body alone.

  20. Facing our own existential loneliness is one of the most important tasks that a human being could undertake at this point in history. Slowly it becomes obvious that the pressure to socialize is also pressure to avoid the process of individuation, both in the Jungian sense and more generally developing as human beings past the maturity of a 14-year-old. Once you leave the land of small talk you’re stamped as “anti-social” or “eccentric,” but I’d rather be a goddamn eccentric than keep plugged in to the social matrix keeping everyone in an infantile state of being, worshiping “stars” and politicians just like primitives worship gods.

  21. Facing our own existential loneliness is one of the most important tasks that a human being could undertake at this point in history. Slowly it becomes obvious that the pressure to socialize is also pressure to avoid the process of individuation, both in the Jungian sense and more generally developing as human beings past the maturity of a 14-year-old. Once you leave the land of small talk you’re stamped as “anti-social” or “eccentric,” but I’d rather be a goddamn eccentric than keep plugged in to the social matrix keeping everyone in an infantile state of being, worshiping “stars” and politicians just like primitives worship gods. I intend to accomplish something on my path of creative evolution. I’m willing to weather the cold sting of loneliness to do that.

  22. Anonymous | Mar 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm |

    We’re still social beings, so socializing is still very important. But so is being alone, allowing us to tap into our introspective selves and observing all the craziness of the world from a distance, which is required to even begin to understand how the world works.

    Both are important and a balance is the healthiest way to live.

  23. smooth_operator | Mar 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |

    We’re still social beings, so socializing is still very important. But so is being alone, allowing us to tap into our introspective selves and observing all the craziness of the world from a distance, which is required to even begin to understand how the world works.

    Both are important and a balance is the healthiest way to live.

  24. Soap is Soap, its self cleaning, wheres the extra gross come from? 😛

  25. justagirl | Mar 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm |

    soap is not self cleaning when a man rubs it all over his hairy body…

  26. just rinse it off and you’re good to go

  27. justagirl | Mar 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    pfft. you are totally a chick or a hairless man.

  28. Haha I like to leave things ambiguous, I think I’m gunna take a shot in the dark and assume that you are justagirl though

  29. Chandler:: Because soap is soap. It’s self-cleaning.

    Joey: All right, well next time you take a shower, think about the last thing I wash and the first thing you wash.

  30. Isn’t this special. You on your high horse bemoaning the users of technology while using the technology yourself. I call that a hypocrite.

  31. I’m happy someone got that reference

  32. Being alone, we can have a lot of time of introspection and discover our inner self and the outer self in the reality of what we perceive. It also creates a creative initiation to further go beyond everything and experience the bliss of ambiguity.

  33. Being alone, we can have a lot of time of introspection and discover our inner self and the outer self in the reality of what we perceive. It also creates a creative initiation to further go beyond everything and experience the bliss of ambiguity.

  34. It makes a lot of sense. People that are ‘over connected’ become driven to be accepted rather than find real meaning for their lives. The mob describes the meaning of life and the individual surrenders his uniqueness for group think. No need to search for truth when you are allowing yourself to be spoon fed.

  35. It makes a lot of sense. People that are ‘over connected’ become driven to be accepted rather than find real meaning for their lives. The mob describes the meaning of life and the individual surrenders his uniqueness for group think. No need to search for truth when you are allowing yourself to be spoon fed.

  36. Being alone is overrated.

  37. Being alone is overrated.

Comments are closed.