Social Interaction and Isolation

November 6, 2008 11:12am CST
I have a friend who, on a regular basis, gives me a flack about what I do with my spare time. "Why would you waste all your time inside staring at some sort of screen when there's a whole world out there?" Now because he is my friend, I generally don't feel anything threatening by it. Howevermy parents, when I still talked to them, made the same criticisms of my life, and when I was still totally dependant on them I found the to hold a bit more weight. But this time, I decided to look back on the subject a little closer, as my friend brought it up again and we got into the topic a bit more this time. I expect some of you to say "Well if you like doing it, and you can afford to do it, why not do it?" I also heard from another friend that "an addiction is medically classified a hobby that you begin to do instead of the essentials, like sleep/eat/work etc. So if you're doing everything you need for survival, and then spending every other waking moment on one activity, you're not an addict." Wich is fine really. These two responses are the same things I use to justify spending most of my spare time playing video games, surfing the net and watching anime. But what if there's a bit more to it than that? Here let me frame this with a portion of our conversation as my thoughts are a little jumbled: FRIEND: Why not go out there and experience life? ME: I've seen your list of things you call "life" (it consists of hanging out with friends, being sociable, going to movies or concerts or bars or parties, attending interesting lectures or book readings at university, etc) and none of them interest me, I would rather forge my own definition of "life" based on my own hobbies and preferrences. FRIEND: Well what do you consider "life" then, I mean you don't seem to care about self - improvement and your only form of self gratification is gained by retreating into games. You're a shut-in. ME: The words we use code underlying meanings, like the fact that you believe I retreat into games rather than the more positively worded "Exploring games" or just "Playing games". FRIEND: You retreat into games specifically because you're hiding from the rest of the world. ME: What if I'm not hiding, I just have no interest in anything that goes on out there? You can kind of get the idea. His argument is that there's a whole lot of interesting stuff out there and that I'm throwing myself away by simply staying inside - sure ultimately I can say "bite me sonny, it's my life" but he IS my friend and I can't help but feeling like he's warning me about something I overlookedHowever on the other hand my argument is that I HAVE been outside, I HAVE participated in a lot of social events and found NONE of them to be appealing whatsoever. ME: Your issue with what I do is that all the things I derive pleasure from, be they computers, games, internet, books, etc, are all indoor and solitary activities....what's wrong with that? FRIEND: All things in moderation. ME: But what's the point of having them in moderation if I've already explored other options and found them to be unenjoyable? In the end this invariably leads back to his vague definition of "enjoying life" wich generally means (for him) social interaction with others. I go to school and I work. I have profs I don't like, classmates I don't like, roommates I don't like and coworkers I don't like. I almost invariably find other people to be hell - just things I need to deal with so I can go home and do what I like to do. However, he (and he is in the vast majority in our society) hold up this social interaction as one of the greatest of life's experiences. FRIEND: Life is comedy between pals, fighting and rivalry friendly-style between them, the same with enemies as well, though to a lesser extent. ME: I don't find this to be appealing, I've only experienced it a rare few times and it's nothing special. FRIEND: But those rare few times are what you should be living for! You should be looking back at the end of your life thinking of those moments and saying "That was the best experience of my life!" ME: I don't want to live stringing together snippets of "best time evar" memories together. Maybe other people can live their life like that, but I can't. I don't want to have a life where I force myself to like a group of people so I can create memories with them and constantly relieve those memories when those people aren't around. People like this, these socialites end up marrying the first person they find that can stand them not out of any kind of love but out of sheer loneliness and fear of being alone at death. They have children that walk all over them with a mate they didn't like, and spend the rest of their years looking back on the "height of their life" with a heaving sigh. I don't want that. And I've found that immersing myself in other worlds that the "real one" - video games, shows, movies, anime, books, novels, the INTERNET - I am constantly bombarded by new experiences, new ways of thought, new ways of viewing reality... Why should I give this up for a few "timeless memories" that I can pine away for as I grow old and crusty? It's like and old grumpy saggy woman looking at her high school yearbook photo of her being a cheerleader. Think about it, we've probably all done this one before. Ever sat at the computer at maybe 7PM and opened an interesting wikipedia link, and read, and thought it was really intriguing so you opened related topics and read them, and kept absorbing more information, and being genuinely entertained on a semi-intellectual level by reading all of this neat stuff, and suddenly holy crap it's 3AM. We've all done that (I guess) we all know what it's like. This is a prime example of the kind of thing I'm talking about. You'll probably never remember the stuff you read about, but while you were reading you were, on some level, being intellectually stimulated. If you could constantly do this, be exposed to new methods of thought, new philosophies, new theories, new stories, new ways of being entertained... would you give it up? Is it so bad that I enjoy isolation from other people? I still go to school, get decent grades, pay my bills - do everything required to fill survival needs and any other responsabilities concerning school/work. Any time, money, energy etc. I have left over when those tasks are accomplished I can do with what I want, so why is there such a massive push to be social, especially on those who have no desire to be? Why should I force myself to attend events I'm not interested in to see people I don't like? How did the 'unhealthy' label even get applied to people living this way? Is it because they don't have any friends or they don't go out? But if they WILLINGLY have no friends and have no desire to go out, is that unhealthy? Why is the 'unhealthy' label slapped to people who simply want to do what they need to do to live and then be left to their own devices?
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