Friday, May 11, 2007

We Want to Be Alone

I was thinking about how much our economy and technological development seems to be driven by the desire not to physically interact with other people. Think about it: we have gone from being entertained by plays and movies in theaters, to having TV sets in our living rooms, to watching video iPods. And with music: from concerts, to radios and stereos in the home, to Walkmans to iPods. Telephones used to have party lines, and there used to be more phone booths-- now we have cell phones. Now the internet gives us so many reasons to do things from the comfort and privacy of our own homes rather than among other people: shopping, dating, education...
Of course cars are a big one-- we've developed this American dream of having your own car, not taking public transportation. And the wealthier people get, the more they isolate themselves: owning yachts instead of going on cruise lines, taking private jets instead of flying commercial, building houses with pools and fitness rooms so they don't have to go to a gym.

Sometimes I feel pretty anti-social myself. Now that I have bought this apartment with outdoor space, I find myself wanting to stay home and enjoy it. I'm also keenly aware of needing to stay on my budget. So every weekend, I have this little inner debate: should I go out to a café for breakfast, or should I stay in and make my own coffee to save a few dollars? But even when I do go out to the café, it's not all that interactive, or even particularly interesting just for people-watching: everyone's just sitting there hunched over their laptops, with iPods on!



7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that is true in suburbian except I find New York to be an exception. The reason I never feel lonely in NYC is that while I am anonymous I am never short of interactions with people. You can't avoid people here! People are always willing to have a conversation even if it is just superficial. I also take my books to read in a cafe so I don't feel lonely at home. So even though I am lost in my thoughts just having people around doing the same thing is comforting.
I also keep in touch with more friends from all round the world because of email. If it weren't for email I would have lost track of them years ago.

Rich Minx said...

It's true, everybody wants their own space. But the internet has opened up a whole new social networking sphere where I can be 'friends' with someone in Sweden whom I haven't met yet. I know it's not the same though. And the abundance of online dating sites show that a lot of people are looking for company.

fin_indie said...

Sad as it is, it's true. I use my home as the "oasis" away from it all. Sometimes I just can't wait to get home... for me, it's a recharge.

Carolyn :-) said...

I agree, it's MUCH too easy to do stuff on your computer, ie buy stuff, chat to others, etc. And having coffee at home is certainly much cheaper then having it in a cafe. But, that's not the reason why you go to a cafe or restaurant. You go to socialize. But, even though I like the quietness of home, and I want to get away from people a lot of the time, I also realize that it is important to try to get out and interact with people, even if you don't feel like it. It's much too easy to get into a rut.

I have budgeted some 'fun' mone monthly to get out of the house. One thing that I am so proud of is that I go hiking with a club, so even though we have to drive out to the hike in the country, we carpool, so we are saving ourselves alot of money, and at the same time, we are being good to the environment. I think hiking is a cheap way to spend a day with friends... you can share the costs...and there's no convenience store on top of a mountain. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think the opposite also happens, and people behave in public as if they were in private. Cell phones are a prime example of this - can't even count the number of times someone on the train or in a park, a cafe, etc., treats the place like home and they're alone, talking loudly about really private stuff. Or when you go to the movies, and the couple behind you either keeps talking or just making comments on either the story or of the actors in it (when I saw Fracture in the theatre, with every opening credit, the couple behind me had to make a comment) - it's like they think they're at home watching a DVD!

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moneymonk said...

Excellent post !

Donny Deutch recently interviewed Bill Gates and he brought this question up. Is the future with technology making us more antisocial? ipods contribute to this as well as personal DVD players. I believe more and more children are becoming loners