Imagined Isolation

“To be an adult is to be alone.” Jean Rostand

I am an introvert. I adore people, I love socializing. But my power comes from sitting at home, watching familiar movies, and doing…basically this. Writing, cleansing my soul, removing the cares and concerns of the day. Finding comfort in my own skin. Dancing to tunes in my mind, enjoying the golden hour of just enough darkness to just enough light. This is what I enjoy. This is where I am happy. 

In a way, I create a fort around me. My apartment has become my emotional Bastille. I recline, unwind and breathe in this space. Often without the company of others. Though my doors are always opened. Upon my return to a city more familiar to me than the one I claimed as home, I quickly set a tone that my doors are always opened and any guest will be greeted with open arms and likely a tasty homemade snack. 

I fancy myself a fan of the idea of being alone. I tote the importance of being aware of the Self and knowing that at the end of the day, we face the world in singular solidarity. 

Or so I thought. 

I came to a realization that even though I think I’m off in a splendid glorious hikikomori-like isolation, I’m not. I can’t well claim solidarity with a phone that goes off as constantly as mine does. Facebook’s trademark ping vying for my attention over whatever other noise I have on my laptop or phone. And while I consider myself a wallflower moth, my notifications tab reads more like a social butterfly.

I’m still connected. I have a vast network of people that are close to my heart. Family and friends that are near and far, sometimes even spanning time zones and continents. We can talk about anything from the Danish monarchy to the symbolism of the lily in French history. We can discuss art, literature, history, science, metaphysical topics. And we’ve covered nearly all of them. And that was just the past weekend.

We Tweet, text, Skype, email, IM, use other social devices and fabulous technologies to share our ideas. 

We also talk about our lives. Particularly hard days at work, struggles with families and understanding, even personal things too intimate to share with anyone else. We model outfits, rant about movie quotes, discuss comic book physics. My world isn’t Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Through our connection, we share our lives. And even if I don’t always get to interact with the people face to face our WiFi signals are a sufficient land bridge. 

Some say in our new digital world that connections like this are further isolating. Living on an island is isolating. Being adrift in the sea is isolating. Hopping off the grid is isolating.

But even Thoreau had to interact with people when he moved to Walden Pond. A connection’s a connection. And even though it’s universal to at times feel even more alone in the sea of other fish, I find strength in the connections I’ve made in my life. My social network is strong. From the barista that understood my Star Trek reference, to the friendly water cooler banter at work that I am working towards mastering, to the odd trivia shared between some of my closest friends. My day to day interactions touch many people and I am in turn, touched by many others.

Isolation now to me is a glorious myth. While physically, sure I can be alone in a room, if I’m talking to someone else (which I probably am in some way or another) I can’t really consider that to be ‘alone’.  We’re all connected. I can chat with my grandmother over events happening locally while asking a friend in Singapore about the weather. Actions and reactions are spread at lightning speed. Rumors, myths, truth, lies all spread like wildfire in the barren landscape that is a close friend’s News Feed. 

So even when I’m in my apartment watching Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life for the 1,000th time (song and dance included), eating almost exclusively things that are packaged in bags or cans and using my quilt like a shroud I’m not alone. I’m connected to a webworking of beautiful individuals. Ones I’m so blessed to have in my life. Family, friends, friends that act like family, co-workers, I’m beautifully intertwined with some of the best and brightest this world has to offer. 

And I intent to keep it that way.

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