Can We Be Social If We Aren’t Alone?

Is is possible that the origins of our social relationships are rooted in our aloneness?

It’s pro-intuitive to us that we are “social creatures”. After all, we hear almost everyday as we use new media that we are social. We even call these technologies, which apparently connect us to each other,¬†social media.

The idea that we are social, through and through, may not, however, be entirely correct.

For you cannot be an individual without being alone. Your aloneness – that place in which you develop you, your deep inner you – must exist for anything social to grow around and out of it.¬†It’s no different than stars bursting out of bible-black space, or roots forming in dark loam.

You cannot be social – humanly social – without being an individual.

Furthermore, for truly social communities to sprout and grow they demand differences and similarities in individualities. Communities of replicants aren’t social. Not truly. Likewise, communities of polar opposites can’t last very long: they either separate into communities of replicants or disintegrate into (un)civil war.

So what’s the point?

The point is this: we need our aloneness. We need to appreciate it as an essential presence in life.

At a time when we are being told that we are “social creatures” and are encouraged to “engage” with each other more and more, what happens to our aloneness?

When you hear “privacy is dead”, what that means is: your aloneness doesn’t have much value, it’s a relic of a time when technology couldn’t violate your privacy so strongly as it can now.

“Lie down, the rumors of your privacy’s death are true. It’s a better world anyway: all of us will share ourselves into Heaven. Submit.”

One small problem with that line of reasoning: There is no empathy in heaven, as Jeremy Rifkin reminds us.

If we lose our aloneness, we will not end up being social.

Oh, we might have niceness on social networks. We’ll text and tweet and otherwise connect, and maybe a good deal of it may be social – or enhancing sociality. But it may all be – in reality – a kind of Matrix, one where only a few realize what’s going on while the rest sleep under the chattering masks of avatars.

What social media is revealing is that media aren’t social. We aren’t entirely social and we aren’t entirely alone. The two work with each other.

When one goes, so does the other.

@PhilBaumann Р@HealthIsSocial РNewsletter


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