It's like coming from bright light into a dark room. Gradually your eyes adjust and you start to see more. Coming back into the civilization is similar to someone pointing flashlight into your eyes. So much external triggers for behaviour. Realizing that I'm not actually me with other people and I'm disappearing into network of others. Me with others is mainly just bunch of triggers that fire based on conditioning.
If I can feel intense otherworldliness from just week or month alone, I imagine that if someone spends decades alone, civilization might seem like miserable alien ant colony. Everybody is responding to commands from others and carrying stuff they don't care about.
ps. It also can trigger psycosis, panic or some kind of madness (prairie fever, cabin fever) in some people. Romanticizing it as escape from all your problems might give people the wrong idea.
As the season goes on, you can see a clear decline in the mental health of many of the contestants. Many drop out just out of sheer boredom or loneliness, even though they have decent shelter and can find food. The winners usually last about 2-3 months alone.
For instance consider the different things you need to consider whilst holding a simple conversation. It's not the same as talking to a wall. It's a game with constraints and a game that our DNA would rather have us do in order to better our chances of survival through cooperation with other members.
The contestants (especially those who make it to later stages) are highly-skilled survivalists.
and talking to a camera and pointing a camera to myself most of the day without even a mirror or comb nearby would make me double anxious.
There was always a lot to do if I wanted to do it, and I could spend hours at a time doing stuff like making dirt-roads, practicing my dry-stone masonry, coding and whatnot on the computer.
I think if you're alone and have some purpose (i.e. building your ranch, spending time to study or learn new skills) you'd probably be fine.
About two months ago I went to the eye doctor with the last free spot on his schedule, the first one in the morning. I inquired to his booking. "Oh, I've had some people cancel because it's a nice summer day. They have better things to do than be in a dark room all day." I thought, 'Dude, you have no idea what I do for money right now." He's on wetware, I'm on hardware, we're both -- obviously through keeping the job out of our own volition -- enjoying doing the same job.
Of course because of that it literally has no meaning now.
If you have lived only in one mode, you have only one reference point to yourelf. "Mental exploring" outside the default comfort zone helps to explore and map the ways you can experience the world and use your mind.
If one is living by reaction, or conditioning, it's as if one's behaviour is a series of reflex actions - the world tapping on your knee. Sure, it's "you" in a sense, this "you' is unique and has a "personality". But since it's only operating on the outer layer of your nervous system, is it really "you"? Different, and less.
I've noticed that it's not so much my choices that conform, but the way of thinking about them, the value system, the set of choices. My own thinking can evaporate, a dream on waking.
I stressed that "if". It's not necessary to live by reaction. There's a famous quote about this difficulty of keeping the independence of solitude while in the world... (Kipling?)
I am subject to the social conditioned trigger, that's why I avoid people, I feel like a liar, it's unbearable. In my previous job, I was shifted off 1 hour such that when people left at 6pm I had one hour of empty floor to work. The minute the last one leaves, my brain expands and I feel like a butterfly.
Also I can't stay with people because I suspect they also feel this but are still believing in society and thus try to play that absurd game even if they rot inside. Finding disguised ways to escape. I don't want to be there to ask them if they're sad, or worse if they try to lie. I don't have the energy to amort this kind of interaction right now.
I often wish leaving in a remote place with enough space to grow some fruit and veggies and then run and read. But ... I also remember that odd feeling when running cross country far from any familiar place. The woods got me hyper focused, borderline paranoid. I felt deep paranoia before (mugged 3x in a row) but this was different because it came rapidly but not violently. It felt like my reptilian brain was waking up. I didn't like that as much as a I did.. because the density of awareness was refreshing, every sensation became more focused. Sounds of the leaves, the movement of branches .. because I wanted to make sense of a foreign environment and it felt important for my safety, my mind started to tune up to everything without a feeling of drag. I also read people (reddit threads) living in the woods having frightening encounters so .. I'm not sure what I'll do.
ps: about 1), I feel that western modern society is all about raising the contrast on everything, but when everything is bright.. you actually lose something.
Where is this place, where you can hike for a week without seeing any other human?
While you do see people on the old mining/forest trails occasionally even in the remote areas, that quickly drops to zero if you leave the trails. In many regions there are semi-drivable trails that will take you to within a mile or two of lakes/rivers/etc that are completely off grid and never visited by people. Topographic maps are a good resource for finding these areas.
For me the 'fastest' way is to hike alone seven days in wilderness without meeting anyone and not staying still in one place. Having clear physical task helps to settle things.
First time I did it, I think the one of the biggest revelations came in the morning of the 5th day. I was really unhappy. Never been outdoors long time. I was tired and dirty first 4 days. Everything I did I hated. I hated walking. I hated putting up a tent etc. and did everything sloppily and as little effort as possible. Then just woke up at one morning and there was no internal bitching. I had to cross a tiny river, undress and go into cold water and carry things over. I just did it without thinking or aversion. I just took the shock of cold and horrible slimy feel in the mud without flinching. I was not assessing my performance or proud of my new stoic style of doing stuff. It was not fun but it was very peaceful and matter of fact.
I have lived in a hut for a few months in a summer in constant isolation with nothing to do and the idleness brings up weird mental states. Like several days of vivid fantasizes followed by sleeping a week 9-10 hours day with weird dreams and being little paranoid. Creativity bursts where you think you are very close to some breakthrough were the worst. The urge to do abstract carvings or build gadgets could get out of hand for me. Eventually things settle down at least for me.
I spend those weeks doing things I've put off, or normally feel there isn't time for.
By now, I look forward to it. Birthdays have become a time for reflection and forecasting. By the end of the week, my life has been quietly rearranged. I like to think there's a surreptitious improvement in my life due to this.
Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls is also a favourite of my kids, although it does get a bit repetitive after a few episodes. Good to have on in the background while you're doing something else, and you can just look up if something interesting happens.
For navigation skills, find your local orienteering or rogaining club and do some events.
 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL3JXZSzSm8AlZyD3nQdBA Pro-tip: turn on captions to see explanations.
but take a look at permies.com and if you're interested, you can get into the permaculture movement. you can take advantage of an immense collection of knowledge.
these are some of the most resourceful people I know.
I presume that on sites like this, there's a higher percentage of people who attempt to be more intentionally decisive about themselves and their lives. We don't necessarily have to toss out everything like Knight did, but looking at life and all the weird social rituals and expectations built up, the dichotomy between those and what seems actually beneficial becomes apparent. That conflict causes a choice, we would seek to do the "better" thing, and that draws many people outside the superficial social norms.
I especially bristle at this quote: "Why don’t we want to be alone? Because the stuff that’s down there is stuff you don’t want to see." Anybody who tries to intentionally better themselves knows what's down there. You have to assess what you are if you're going to change. Sure, you can deny and hide from all that and simply find comfort in floating along with everybody else in social inertia, but that seems to me to be a shameful waste of those conceptual abilities which (apparently) make us uniquely human.
Does anyone else appreciate the delicious irony that parent is hitting all the right notes for an appeal to the tribe while at the same time criticizing tribalism?
1. Establish an 'us' vs. 'them' distinction ('I presume on sites like this')
2. Subtly denigrating outsiders ('draws many people outside the superficial social norms.')
3. Establishing higher common values ('That conflict causes a choice, we would seek to do the "better" thing')
Trying to be original, individualistic, and nonconformist what everyone is taught in the US from an early age.
There is no "us" and "them" in what I'm saying. There's a bunch of varying individuals, and ad-hoc grouping whereever there's some perceived similarity.
The problem is that that grouping instinct goes overboard, and when nonsense or applicability of what emerges from the grouping pressure isn't questioned at all. This happens in small groups as well as large ones, so it's not even a majority vs minority issue. It's simply one of being swept up in our default reactionary ways, and when that is challenged, projecting an assumption that everybody is swept up in the same way as ourself (as the author does) because of that exact same instinct.
I can't express how glad I feel though, that I am living in an age and country where not being socially pliant isn't something that would get me killed. Where I can continue to live my life the way that I want to, rather than buy into social norms and regulations, many of which seem rather anachronistic.
I'm almost reflexively rebellious but also crave social interaction. It kind of sucks, actually.
Not killed, but certainly the victim of gossip, even smear campaigns and gang stalking. You're an ideal patsy to cover up some sociopath's schemes. "You may not be interested in war, but war is interestwd in you."
I can be social, personable, agreeable, all that jazz. But like any given normal introvert, I need the recharge by myself and alone. For how long? Of course that depends. For me, I'll arrive to a party acceptably early [and gladly help out or whatever] or right on time as expected, and leave in classic Dr Who style when very few people notice; "happy to come, happy to go" and don't overstay my welcome.
I feel like I am aware of what I am "missing out on not to see people sometimes". Chitchat, small talk, how's it going, your troubles, my troubles. However, good fences do actually make good neighbors. I've gotten great help from my neighbors and such, with about as much effort put in by either of us as described by Robert Frost, and I couldn't be more grateful.
I can't help but compare with my surroundings, even I have quit Facebook for many years. I can't be myself when I'm around others, but become a money maker for things I don't need. I can't concentrate on what makes me happy.
I recall what made me happy. it was when I finally understood some papers, some equations, some code. I just want to find a quiet place to do these. I hope to become an awesome painter and a guitar player too.
I just want to have enough to survive and focus my energy on these things. I don't care if I have successful kids or fancy cars.
Now you need to get these stories done by end of sprint. We have a release in six weeks, people, let's get moving!
Wasn't Agile about doing less work?
Less unrealistic plans.
Less meetings - including informal.
Shorter meetings - mostly just daily standup - what I did, what I'm doing, any blockers.
Scrum with its artifacts/ceremonies like standup is a specific interpretation.
It would be interested to see how a variant that truly focussed on individuals rather than interaction could work.
It seems like an artificial treadmill from afar, but IMO the underpinnings are fairly sound. You just have to find the flavor that suits you. Buying farmland and working in your fields 12 hours a day, is still an option :)
Yeap. Or get some sheep and go graze them in the mountains. There are still people doing that in my Western European country. Plenty of free time to think, if that's what you really want.
If you think it's an easy or fun job, you might want to spend some time doing it before committing.
I sometimes wonder if it would have been better to just accept an undemanding career and spend my spare time reading interesting papers or writing code. However, I did meet this girl ...
As someone who's looking in that kind of direction at least semi-seriously, don't underestimate the cost of farmland, especially if you're hoping for land that's reasonably flat and fertile. There probably are places in the world where it remains a cheap option -- but few that are an easy move from the UK. Also, however close to self-sufficiency you come in terms of food, fuel, potentially clothing, there remain expenses that need to be paid in cash.
I'm somewhat hoping that one day I might find a balance between some paid work and some time in my own fields -- but don't expect it to be easy. In the mean time, I get a certain amount from the garden.
If your gonna live in society, you are completely dependent on other people. Without them giving you food, a place to live you would die. So just do some freelancing to get some money and then you can do what you want in the rest of the time.
You probably don't hate interacting with people that much. It's probably just that your interactions are out of control and on overload in the office. You'd probably be happier freelancing so your interactions would be far fewer and more structured.
You know what? It's a normal, neurotypical part of life as a homo sapiens to want to be by yourself sometimes. And equally, it's a normal, neurotypical part of life as a homo sapiens to want to socialise sometimes.
We're a weird species like that, the way sometimes we want something and other times we want the opposite.
Why would you say that? Even perusing the wikipedia article shows that there is at least some evidence for a biological basis, and that it is being researched.
Maybe it's not up to your standards, but it's far from being settled as a bunch of 'woo'
Everytime you hear someone saying you can divide the world in two separate categories, you can know that the vision it creates is blurry at best. Juste like saying pi = 2. It's technically not wrong, but a rather useless info.
Are you saying it is possible there are neurological differences, but it hasn't been proven?
Or are you saying it has been proven that there are no neurological differences?
I could be wrong, but my best guess is that you are not familiar with this area of science, much less science in general, and made that claim for reasons having more to do with your personal philosophy. Am I right?
Beware of confirmation bias. If you've convinced yourself something exists, and discover some patterns in data that line up with previous beliefs, that will be classed as evidence even without understanding what those patterns truly represent.
You may just have stumbled upon a new definition of extrovert, i.e. a person who finds this distinction meaningless. I'm half joking, but most people I know have a pretty consistent level of extra-intraversion.
In other time I talk to people, go out and enjoy with friends.
Again most of the time I like be alone doing what I like to do.
I've personally always been fascinated by the topic as I have met several hermit monks, have a friend who lived as one for half a year, and contemplated it for myself. The history of religious asceticism and hermits is quite interesting, and many of history's most famous philosophers/religious leaders/prophets were either hermits, or had periods of reclusion. And nearly every single religion has these hermit figures.
Anyhow, the downside is that being alone is tough. Physically and mentally. Humans are social creatures. However I have personally benefited from periods of isolation and reflection, even if I'd much rather be around others.
While undoubtedly there are many many humans that desire to socialize and be around other humans, there are many of us that find socialization less enjoyable.
So while I personally have benefited from periods of social interaction, I'd much rather be in isolation and self reflection.
Every time you buy something from Amazon, drink tap water, or live in a dwelling that you didn't build yourself, you are being a social creature. Few animals are capable of interacting in these highly complicated and choreographed ways.
I'd say that's stretching the definition of social beyond the breaking point. Technically those interactions involve other humans, but none that you engage with directly. It's direct human interaction that is the key to whether something is 'social' or not IMO.
Consider the context. The subject under discussion is those who want to be alone. It's quite possible to be alone whilst still enjoying the fruits of human collaboration.
It just crossed my mind that, as an hypothesis, may it be that introverts prefer to be alone because socializing is hard since we lack the necessary skills?!
But secondly, because the expression originally implied nothing of the sort, and still doesn't in biological jargon (which I believe is where it is/was most commonly used).
It was Aristotle who first used the expression "ζῷον πολιτικόν", and he used it to mean that humans exist in large ordered agglomerations as a matter of fact . He also included bees and ants among the "political animals", but I don't think he ever said anything about any of them wanting company for it's own sake. And, at least in the beginning of his Politics, neither does he suggest that humans want it for it's own sake, either. Biologists, on the other hand, still use that expression with a meaning similar to that of Aristotle (animals who happen to live together), while including other groups .
Now, this wouldn't be a problem if in common language these expressions merely meant something else than what they do in biology, or what they mean in Aristotelian exegesis. That would be fine. But instead it seems as if the usage in common language relies on the usage in learned contexts to do a little bit of semantic sleight-of-hand, and suggest something else than what was originally meant e.g. "Humans have an inherent need for company: Biologists say we're 'social animals'".
Otherwise, the statement would have no authority behind it in common language. Instead, it would be just an unfounded assertion. In fact, that there are people who disagree with it already suggests that it is, at least, ill-founded. These are the people saying "No, we don't". But instead, readers are nudged by the usage in learned contexts to take it for granted, without further justification.
Either way, it's a bit like when someone conflates term "observer", as it is used in physics, with the term as it is used in common language to suggest that people can walk through walls if they wish hard enough.
If you try to change one aspect of your life, say being vegan, you find that the other aspects of your life conspire to pull you back. With valiant effort you can resist in some narrow sense... maybe not eating animal parts. But then you realize animal cruelty is inherent in almost all common forms of farming. And in order to participate in social activities you are expected to eat animal bits, and your doctor doesn't know how to support you.
And perhaps even more importantly, even if I succeed at meeting your requirement, say living in a separatist vegan commune, we will simply exist in a bubble until we burn up and disappear.
The way you have influence is not usually by taking an unflinching moralizing stance, but by pulling gently and incessantly on the rudder, steering your community almost imperceptibly towards a new place, making heart wrenching concessions, standing by as your values are desecrated in front of you, and getting up to do it again. To truly take a moral stance one must participate in the murky politics of the hive of human activity.
The absolutists just die. If not literally, then mythologically, because no one can understand their lives, and so no one learns from them... Except maybe a few accolytes who are trying to climb the same mountain of radicalism.
We live in a world in which who we are is defined by what we do. We are a role - parent, engineer, carer. Strip that away and all that remains is a who. That's the reward of solitude: a situation wherein you have nobody to bounce your 'self' off, nobody to define yourself in relation to, allowing you to surface.
Turns out that who you are is simply a sequence of reactions to experience - the external kind as well as that which bubbles up internally. Rather than terrifying, this should be seen as profoundly liberating.
Its easy to talk about re-framing our mindset, especially for things that frighten or embarrass us. Much harder to carry out. But I do agree its important to take action regardless... that seems to be the only thing that helps with it.
Did you get a diagnosis from a qualified professional, or is this self-diagnosis?
I used to wonder if I had it, but then I met someone who was diagnosed with it. Fairly significant difference.
Exactly. If one doesn't get the reward then it's too easy to commit errors and not worth the effort to correct them.
However I do think 'spergs' have a better knowledge of the rules than normies. Just as a native speaker doesn't need to know grammar in order to speak correctly, so normies don't need to know the rules of social interaction.
You're absolutely right. It's intuition for neurotypical people, it's just something they get. For aspies socialization is about learning all the hidden rules that come naturally to others. But I do admit that knowing the rules and applying them in real time is a very, very difficult thing to do. It gets exhausting quick, and if this was one of the reasons hermits decide to become hermits, I can empathise massively.
Thus all rules come with a ton of exceptions.
I don't think it _necessarily_ needs to be aspergers for that. I have OCD regarding, e.g., remembering exactly what people said, and it makes social situations exhausting.
The letters Knight & Finkel exchanged add an interesting angle.
Can't say I'm a fan of the author's choice for title of this post. It's Chris Knight's story, and nothing in this post presents any evidence for anyone else at any other time, aside from this single sentence "Think of Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha: they all spent very long periods of time alone before introducing their religions." I totally believe there have always been people who want to be alone sometimes. Pretty much everyone wants to be alone sometimes. But ugh, this sentence & title seem to strain credulity and are so completely unnecessary and tangential to this story.
The man burglarized people's houses for supplies.
If that was all it takes to survive in the woods for decades then that would be relevant.
Think of a rat or other mammal pest. They effectively survive off of civilization in the same way.
And since he got away with it for the entire time...successfully...it seemed effective, too.
Living fully alone isolated from civilization in terrain as hostile as wild alaska isn't realistic. See Christopher Mccandless. It's simpler to just scrounge off of civilization.
He should not be the benchmark for this thing.
I find it interesting that silent retreats work for so many people. While I do get some benefits from meditation it doesn't really lead me to terrifying situations. From time to time it feels like I am having some epiphanies wrt to my shortcomings but meditation seems too gentle to call those moments a confrontation. There is always this nice, cool distance between me and my thoughts. Throwing me into an impro theater group might be more beneficial (and terrifying).
The required spontaneity would force the "actual me" to live through uncomfortable situations and perhaps grow.
It's creator is a hacker in the truest sense; his forge-blower contraption, for instance, is simply ingenious.
Don't forget to turn on captions, the subtitles describe what he's doing :)
The article is not about some outdoorsman that built furnaces and such. he didn't even lit a fire or dug a latrine!
this is the story of a man that just didn't want to be seen. he camped 3min walk from cabins, and stole books and food everywhere he could.
However irrelevant it may be, somehow I'm certain it will not be the most nuisance caused in this thread today :)
I sometimes hear the phrase "People are social animals" to express the sentiment that living in densely-populated environments has a good/neutral influence on the human psyche.
The disclaimer should be that socialising with people we know well and trust is what's "natural" and yields benefits; being constantly surrounded by strangers has to be stressful for us.
Wether consciously or intuitively (See the excellent book "The Gift of Fear" for more), we are constantly scanning our surroundings for potential threats.
That, and a lack of accountability for how one treats their "neighbours", presents problems that can place a tremendous load on your mental health.
I guess was talking about people who feel the need to withdraw in general. I think we've all met a person or two like this, who prefered to be alone. Some just take it further than others.
From Aristotle, The Politics.
All people (and cultural groups for that matter) are not equally pleasant to be around.
This really resonates with me. The "Fear of missing out" is something I try to avoid like the plague, but sometimes I wonder why do I even care?
edit: replaced the acronym FOMA
Ok, then don't care. Maybe it's time to finally grow up. Or then again, maybe the desire for company is perfectly natural and instinctual.
I find the title a bit dangerous, but an interesting topic.
BTW, prolonged solitude has been considered by most major Eastern schools (both Hindu and Buddhist) as necessarily precursor for spiritual transformations.
― Arthur Schopenhauer