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April 26, 2012 at 3:49 PMComments: 5 Faves: 0

Self-Imposed Exile On Halcyon Island

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This Author

“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

                                      -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Privacy has adopted an entirely new meaning over the last few decades. The time when you could come home, "unplug the phone," and chillax for hours without interruption, is over. We are now constantly connected with, not only those we want to be connected to, but with those who we may not acknowledge as well. Phones, TVs, cars, buildings, all are "evolving" to keep us more connected with each other.

Despite all this wonderful interaction with our fellow human beings, studies show that we are now more lonely than ever. A Duke University study shows that 25% of all Americans have no "meaningful" social contact at all. What's more, over half reported that the only "meaningful" social contact they have is family. In 1985, the super lonely scale sat at 10%...

What Happened? happened

How does this happen when there are so many more avenues for social interaction available to us? It happens when we begin to think of sitting behind a computer screen, furiously updating our "friends" on bi-minute events, as social interaction...it's not. I don't care that you use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family abroad, you still aren't speaking to them, touching them, noticing their idiosyncrasies, taking in the smells, or just being in the presence of people who actually understand you.

So, there are very little avenues for privacy left available to us, yet we feel more isolated than ever. What is the solution? Most "experts" say that we should branch out of our comfort zones, interact with people, find new avenues for socialization, blah, blah, and blah. I've never really been one for expert opinions, they always seem so cowardly, never really willing to push an idea to relevancy, so here is my solution:

exileSelf-Imposed Exile

Now, before you start to think me crazy for even declaring further isolation as a solution to the lonely crisis, hear me out.

Why are we lonely? We have forgotten what it means to be part of humanity. We have categorized ourselves into oblivion. Worker, father, mother, gamer, blogger, introvert, extrovert, professional, and on, and on, and on. We have so many titles and so many communities that we associate ourselves with, we have lost site of what it means to just be ourselves. This is where self-imposed exile comes in.

Self-imposed exile is all about you. More specifically, it's all about finding you within the chaos of "normal" life. The key to self-imposed exile, for me, is headphones and my favorite tunes. I fill my head with sounds that remind me of who I am, and then I venture into the world. I go to all the chillaxsame places I would normally go: grocery store, mall, work, nature, family reunions, anything and everything, but now I just observe.

Life is different when you have the ability to listen to yourself, when you aren't constantly bombarded with marketing...when constant drama isn't being thrown in your face...when there is no socially imposed restriction on your thoughts...when all that matters is that you exist in the moment...nothing more, nothing less.

I guarantee there is a peace to be found deep within the chaos of your current existence. When you find this halcyon center, hang on to it, protect it, nurture it with more self-exile, and you will find that it becomes a constant companion. You will look at those struggling to maintain sanity and smile, wanting desperately to throw some headphones on them and push them into the world they are missing.

Good luck...

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5 Comments

  • I think I need to try this next black friday. I'm going to take my mp3 player and just watch those fools run over each other. I love it! Nothing makes me feel better than to unplug and just be, letting my insane life just drift away.

    Also, did this make anyone else want to run to their mp3 player and throw on "Halcyon and On and On" by Orbital? It ran through my head the entire time I was reading this!

  • You ever get that super excited feeling when someone mentions a band that you thought no one else but you listened to? Just got it...

    I'm right with you Rex. Self-imposed exile has changed me to the core. When I see the hustle and bustle of "normal" life through the lense of my true mind, everything seems to slow to its most instinctual existence...brutal and beautiful.

  • Of course I know the band thing is completely illogical, millions of people listen to Orbital.

  • Great blog and an interesting perspective!

    The solution you suggest might seem a little counter-productive - isolating yourself in those social situations you do encounter - but correct me if I'm wrong - I think the point you're making is that lonely people should focus on what they do have, rather than what they don't. That being one doesn't need to be lonely, that being one can be empowering because you have all the power and say?

    While putting on your headphones further removes you from people in some ways, it also prevents you from thinking about yourself from others perspectives. It pushes you more towards the side of observer rather than observed.

    Personally, I need silence to really work through my thoughts. (You seriously can't talk to me when the radio or tv is on, I won't hear anything you said.) I do my best thinking driving in a quiet car or walking by myself. But I could see how using headphones at the grocery store or other public spaces could be really helpful for someone that needs to work on understanding and defining themselves rather than allowing others to dictate those things.

  • Traditional thought would say that the idea is counter-intuitive, but it's the traditional thought that is causing the loneliness in the first place. Isolation in social situations is merely the surface of the idea. In order to truly recognize yourself amidst the chaos of life, you have to remove yourself from every thought imposed upon your daily activity. This means that every unwritten social norm, every way of acting "correctly," needs to be erased from your mind. When you reach that true, unadulterated core, you take off from there, walking through the throngs of stressed and cooped up people with an ease that you never thought existed. You can choose to pay attention to them, or not, it really doesn't matter, as long as it is what you want to do.

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