The benefits of social withdrawal

Originally published at:

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Yes. We’re the ones who see the title of Gabriel García Márquez’s book and sigh “100 years of solitude” … bring it on.


I haven’t been feeling particularly social lately, so I’m getting a real kick out of this article (truth).

But not from you, BoingBoing. We have something special here. You understand me. You get it.

“The cure for loneliness is solitude.”

― Marianne Moore

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“Hell is other people” – Sartre


Story of my life. The real joy is getting punished (as a child) for withdrawing/preferring solitude, or fired (as an adult) for same. The strong bias toward "Group-everything " in modern culture is pervasive and deeply toxic. That’s a bit jarring, as without the creativity and structure that’s nourished by those of us that prefer solitude, the culture itself would wither and die.

You’re welcome, unappreciative world, you’re welcome.


When I was in high school, a literal cheerleader literally asked me, “Are you an anti-socialist?”

There’s the set-up. I can assure you that she was completely bored halfway through the punchline.


If those prone to social withdrawal are often characterized as creative, why can’t I think up acceptable ways to socialize when forced to?

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From the article:

This was significant because while previous research had suggested that unsociability might be harmless, Bowker and colleagues’ paper showed that it could actually be beneficial. Unsociable people are likely to be “having just enough interaction,” Bowker says. “They have a preference for being alone, but they also don’t mind being with others.”

This is me. I have a preference for being alone and don’t mind being with others, if said others are not engaging in banal chitchat. It is very difficult for me to comprehend small talk. I’ve taught myself to engage in it but I literally feel like it’s a foreign language being spoken and for me the exercise is exhausting.


This. 1000x this. I feel a little badly in those moments because I’m sure I’m letting other people down if I don’t manage to engage successfully, but it just doesn’t resonate with me. And exhausting… doubly so.

I wish I could explain this to non-withdrawn people, but thus far any attempts at doing so have been met with replies that essentially suggest that it’s my fault and if I would just fix myself, I’d be acceptable to others. I don’t buy that, but not being believed about this just being who I am gets a little tiresome sometimes.


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