Apparently I am not alone in asking if we are experiencing the end of aloneness. A few days after publishing this blog post, “Are our phones robbing us of solitude?”, I heard KQED’s Forum, our local public radio civic affairs program, take on this very question.
The guest was William Deresiewicz, an English professor who taught at Yale between 1998 and 2008 and recently published a beautiful essay called “The End of Solitude” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I can’t remember ever being so riveted by a program. I was getting ready for work, but found myself unable to leave, obsessively dialing to join the conversation.
Deresiewicz raised provocative questions: What do we lose when we deprive ourselves of solitude? What happens to college students if they never disconnect enough to sink into aloneness? Or the girl who receives 3,000 daily text messages, which means, on average, she is never alone for longer than 10 minutes? What if they have no desire for solitude at all? How is solitude related to friendship? He shared an enigmatic Emerson quotation: “the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude; and it goes alone, for a season, that it may exalt its conversation or society.”
Check out the radio show here. Listen for me at the end. My question: Is this an addiction to constant connectivity, and if so, what do we do to rehabilitate ourselves?
Nancy in Boston forwarded me this similarly themed piece from the Boston Globe, “The End of Alone.”
Lately I find myself taking “power solitude,” like “power naps.” I’m training for longer periods without checking emails or texts. Though I still feel addicted, I’m comforted to know that others are wondering what we are overly connected. I know I’m not alone.
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