Self-Imposed Exile On Halcyon Island
“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%...
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:
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 same 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.