• Benj96
    531
    Some questions on the art of being lonesome.
    Firstly, some people are, have been and likely always will be relatively alone in their life. This isn’t necessarily a “poor them” sentiment. Some people in fact excel when left to their own devices or prefer the solitude.

    So what makes a loner? Is it a coping strategy for never “fitting in” to the perceived social convention of those around them, or is it something genetic - are some pre-disposed to walking the path of life leaving only one track of footprints along the way. Is it isolation by virtue of a gift - for example the hyper intelligent, the studious, or a malady - those with conditions that prevent typical social interaction. Or is it down to personality? Do some people genuinely like to be alone or is the need for socialising innate in all people - driven by sexual impulse at the very least? Perhaps it’s all of these things?

    If a group of people were split up into individuals and relocated to an island each for the rest of their lives, one would imagine some would go mental and do everything in their power to bridge the sea between them and the next island. Others may commit suicide after a time, we may find others again are actually quite at peace in their solitary existence and never look beyond the shores of “their” island.
    And others may invoke their incredibly adaptable mind and develop a whole set of “imaginary friends” for which to share their experience (think Wilson in castaway).

    So why is this the case? Are we social/ pack animals or not? Or do humans simply not fit a well- defined category when it comes to the need/ desire for social unity.

    What traits do you think a successful loner typically possesses? And are there ways to switch into a mindset where you have zero dependence on anyone else for life satisfaction and mental well being?

    Is it better to be alone or part of a group? What are the benefits of such an existence and finally, could you do it? If so for how long?
  • James Riley
    2.1k


    Too many questions this early in the morning, but I will say this: Some folks can't stand having themselves around. So they distract themselves, with books, T.V., other people. Constant diversion. Many of those who are comfortable in the absence of other people will "occupy" themselves with projects, building, creating, engineering their environment.

    I've spent a great deal of time alone, without any man-made distraction. But even then, I hunt, I fish, I gather. I'm perfectly comfortable being naked and alone with the best people I've ever met (Earthlings other than Homo Sap). I'd love to have North America to myself and them. Not gonna happen.

    But I'm socially literate and functional too. Last I heard there were upwards of 7b of the vermin running relatively unchecked across the globe. So I kind of have to be.
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    What traits do you think a successful loner typically possesses?Benj96
    Distinguish between being alone and a loner. I do not think there is any such thing as a "successful" loner. To be a loner is already to have failed at life in perhaps the most significant ways - and probably not the loner's fault. All this to be distinguished from being alone, the natural state of all of us some of the time.
  • James Riley
    2.1k
    Distinguish between being alone and a loner. I do not think there is any such thing as a "successful" loner. To be a loner is already to have failed at life in perhaps the most significant ways - and probably not the loner's fault.tim wood

    I think I agree with this assessment. But then I want to quibble with the definition of "successful" and "failed" and "significant. I think of the houseless (not homeless) person who looks, from the outside, to be unsuccessful and a failure, but who, for all practical purposes, might be akin to the yogi on the hill top.

    They might be dependent upon their fellow man for some things, and may die without those things, but utilizing available resources does not by itself render one a non-loner, or a social butterfly. I think a lot of the words we are using are subjective and relative.

    I know a lot of social types think it is best to give others the benefit of the doubt, while loners might assume the worse. A lot depends upon what people have seen. As you acknowledge, a negative view of people may not be the person's "fault." If they see the Twin Towers fall, they may not see a bunch of innocent people die. They may wonder instead how many wives were at home thanking their lucky stars that SOB abuser was killed. Or that child might be glad they will no longer be molested. There can be a "bright side" to anything.

    So, when I see a houseless person scavenging the streets, I try to be a social optimist and think: "There goes a happy loner who might very well have the secret to life." I give him the benefit of the doubt like any lover of humanity would do. :wink:
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    I try to be a social optimist and think: "There goes a happy loner who might very well have the secret to life." I give him the benefit of the doubt like any lover of humanity would do.James Riley

    We know you've a heart of mush inside that rough and crude exterior, so we know "the benefit of the doubt" is not to your benefit, in enabling you to assure yourself that he or she needs no assistance from you.

    And to be sure, loners accomplish all kinds of things. The failure I have in mind is in a Rogerian-Aristotelian sense, of happiness as described by A, and self-actualization by R. The given being humans are social animals, and thus find greatest happiness and accomplishment as members of communities.
  • James Riley
    2.1k
    so we know "the benefit of the doubt" is not to your benefit, in enabling you to assure yourself that he or she needs no assistance from you.tim wood

    On the other hand, I believe it is a function of my tax dollars to provide that assistance, and I'd hate to remove a burden from the broad shoulders of government by picking up it's weight and carrying it for it. After all, I want my government to be strong that way, not a leach, becoming weaker in it's dependence upon individuals like me, the church, the NGO, etc.

    The failure I have in mind is in a Rogerian-Aristotelian sense, of happiness as described by A, and self-actualization by R. The given being humans are social animals, and thus find greatest happiness and accomplishment as members of communities.tim wood

    On that, I think I might agree. But I'm not sure happiness and self-actualization require community for confirmation. Sex, maybe. And accolades and confirmation itself, maybe. But happiness and self-actualization can come from a job well done (i.e. art, construction of shelter, etc.). Not everyone needs a pat on the back. Yeah, it can be nice, but not necessary.
  • Caldwell
    604
    So why is this the case? Are we social/ pack animals or not? Or do humans simply not fit a well- defined category when it comes to the need/ desire for social unity.Benj96
    Solitude and isolation are not the same thing. But often, these two are thought to be interchangeable. A person wanting to be alone doesn't necessarily feel cut off from the rest of social population. At least to me, wanting solitude doesn't mean wanting to be cut off from connections. I feel as happy spending time alone as I am spending time with others. I divide my time between the two situations. And I get satisfaction from either.

    But one thing, solitude is a need. Like sleeping is a need.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    . Or is it down to personality? Do some people genuinely like to be alone or is the need for socialising innate in all people - driven by sexual impulse at the very least? Perhaps it’s all of these things?Benj96

    I don't think this is a hard one. If you are alone and unhappy about it: problem. If you are alone and happy: no problem. There is no 'meant to be' state. Some people, draw strength from social contact. Some people, draw strength from aloneness. Besides there is plenty of rampant disfunction to find in marriages with children - people who are seething with hatred and bigotry and abusive towards their family and friends. Some people manage to be totally alone, even surrounded by significant (insignificant?) others. I think 'loner' is a word frequently used as a pejorative in literature and in a law and order context and often precedes a discussion on serial killing or some other hate crime.
  • I like sushi
    2.7k
    Are we talking about being 'alone' or being 'lonesome'? They are different.

    Personally I'm VERY happy when I'm alone. I don't get 'lonely'. I've extremely long periods with minimal human contact and been completely fine. If I had to be around people all day everyday I think I'd slowly lose my mind - or just start killing them off one by one :D

    What traits do you think a successful loner typically possesses?Benj96

    If you mean someone like myself I would say there are many different traits that play into this. A good imagination will probably serve you well though above most other aspects.
  • Benj96
    531
    A good imagination will probably serve you well though above most other aspects.I like sushi

    Agreed. I think one can be self-entertaining. But it demands a level of persistent curiosity and pondering. An unstimulated mind is and unhappy one in my experience
  • Benj96
    531
    I think 'loner' is a word frequently used as a pejorative in literature and in a law and order context and often precedes a discussion on serial killing or some other hate crime.Tom Storm

    Haha well I used the term in a loose and ambiguous way but perhaps that’s not how it’s interpreted by people at large for this reason - it’s derogative nuances.I guess for me a loner is someone who is lone and doesn’t necessarily choose to be but it is more the conditions of their lifestyle and lack of opportunity for interaction that makes them so. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t accustomed and quite happy to be. I’m often a cheerful loner. People are busy and I’m restricted in ways to spend time with others but enjoy my own company equally. Use whatever term you prefer.

    I’m interested in the large divide between those who cannot stand being alone and those who cannot stand to be forced to engage with others. I wonder why there is this discord in such a populous and typically social mammalian species as humans are believed to be.
  • James Riley
    2.1k
    I’m interested in the large divide between those who cannot stand being alone and those who cannot stand to be forced to engage with others. I wonder why there is this discord in such a populous and typically social mammalian species as humans are believed to be.Benj96

    There are swings to the extreme in all communities. I don't know if the bell curve is illustrative but it sounds good to someone like me who doesn't really know what it means. Anyway, I've heard that if you put too many rats in a cage, they will start eating each other. It's not that they are "social pack animals" like wolves, or loners, like bears, but everyone and everything needs a little elbow room to move around. Some folks, like me, need more than others. Personally, I get the heebie jeebies in a crowd.

    Here's me at a party:

    240591391_420278449461864_4114826463670810929_n.jpg?_nc_cat=103&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=8bfeb9&_nc_ohc=DP_hNVyWnU8AX-TzX_k&_nc_ht=scontent-dfw5-1.xx&oh=c91219383f8184cd0b17fe4f5b5ffc20&oe=616DFA62
  • thewonder
    1.4k
    To my experience, isolation has been due what I generally refer to as a "patrician mentalist" prejudice that later became socially enforced to a point of either intentionally or tacitly effectively leaving me to die, if not either attempting to convinced me to commit suicide or just kind of create a situation where it could have become likely for me to be killed. As you might imagine, I do blame society.

    Those assumptions of mine are kind of pathological, though, as treating everyone as if they were out to get you does kind of leave you fairly isolated. Extending a certain degree of good faith towards other members of society is the only way to, y'know, make good friends, but, I must say, the people who challenge what issues I have with trust are a little too few and far between.

    It's the age-old paranoid dilemma. Are they really out for you or does thinking it just make it so?
  • Hermeticus
    108
    If you are alone and unhappy about it: problem. If you are alone and happy: no problem. There is no 'meant to be' state. Some people, draw strength from social contact. Some people, draw strength from aloneness.Tom Storm

    I think this basically explains it. Both social interaction as well as living in isolation are things that are learned and mastered with experience. The way we grow up, social interaction likely is more natural to us. But with the way learning works, if an individual makes bad experiences with social interaction early on, they may tend towards isolation.

    For me, I notice that social interaction and isolation respectively do some very distinct things for me.
    Socialization is a time for letting go for me. I spend very little time thinking and a lot of time doing. As if swept away by a current, I just become a part of the entire dynamic.

    Isolation offers me a different experience. My awareness sharpens, my perception becomes more detailed. Everything I do is done very consciously. Extended periods of isolation are usually periods of growth for me.

    Personally, I think a frequency between the two is healthy. I find that one intensifies and makes you appreciate the other more.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.8k
    Are we social/ pack animals or not?Benj96

    We are social animals with a fairly wide range of sociability, but we all normally start in groups, and we always require groups, however much we tend toward the solitary.

    What traits do you think a successful loner typically possesses?Benj96

    A loner has both a preference for and toleration of solitude--up to some point. Loners belong to the social animal group, so some social involvement is essential (not merely optional). No person is an island, but one has to have some degree of mental self-sufficiency.

    Is it better to be alone or part of a group?Benj96

    Loners come out of groups -- family first, then village / school groups, work groups, etc.

    There are 2 kinds: loners by choice and loners by exclusion. For either situation, the loner that is somewhat mentally self-sufficient will do better in the long run. Loners by exclusion may be sociable people, but because of very very bad luck (like solitary confinement in prison) may have to adapt, If they can't, then they are likely to be damaged. Loners by choice can also end up being isolated too long, and may develop behaviors that make them less socially acceptable.

    I am a loner; I require blocks of solitude to operate well, but I also need periodic social activity. As an 'old loner' now, that doesn't have to be very complicated or extended. As a younger adult loner I needed more social activity, and was able to obtain it without any difficulty.

    Street people, as an unhappy group, are composed of various sorts. Some are clearly mentally ill; some are loners by choice; some are not loners but are socially dysfunctional -- not mentally ill but unable to get along in 'normal society' (which can be several kinds of crazy, to be perfectly frank). Some street people are loners by exclusion (teenagers getting kicked out of home by their parents, for instance).
  • hypericin
    283
    I do not think there is any such thing as a "successful" loner. To be a loner is already to have failed at life in perhaps the most significant ways -tim wood

    So is a loner who finds deep meaning and pleasure in creation, in nature, in their own thoughts, inherently a failure, compared to one who spends all their time around others, buffeted by this and that person's moods and needs, who feels their own emptiness keenly when alone, and had no identity outside their reflection in the mirror of another's eyes?
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    Loner, being alone. Two different things. And false opposition. Work it out.
  • hypericin
    283
    A loner is someone who prefers being alone. Do you have a more substantive point?
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    Do see the problems with your reply?
  • Leghorn
    466
    I would say a loner is someone who “tends” to be alone, whether they prefer it or not @hypericin.

    @tim wood, I would say it is obvious that a person who is alone is not obviously a loner. They may be rather someone who is ordinarily gregarious, but is forced into isolation through circumstance.
  • Manuel
    1.6k
    A balance is likely best for most people. You see all kinds of destructive behavior in both groups, though I think you have to admit that we were born to be in groups. Modern society is now built were this is sometimes not as needed as it used to be, and this is good and bad, like most things relating to technology.

    I personally tend to get lost in space (my head) when I'm around a group of people and the talk is not engaging. I can't help this after a while. But then I tend to force isolation to a excessive degree. However, given both options, I prefer the latter. I can't deal with noise too well.

    I cannot imagine having no room for being with yourself for long periods of time, or maybe never, outside of sleep. That is also pretty bad and limits growth.

    In short, it's all quite complex, despite "general rules": exercise, diet, socialization, commitment, etc.
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    Way up above I make that distinction.
    Distinguish between being alone and a loner.tim wood
    And,
    The failure I have in mind is in a Rogerian-Aristotelian sense, of happiness as described by A, and self-actualization by R. The given being humans are social animals, and thus find greatest happiness and accomplishment as members of communities.tim wood

    If you and others don't care to make those distinctions, then you're out of your depth.
  • James Riley
    2.1k
    I've seen the "pack mentality" in action. When I used that term, I thought I better go look it up. The definition I found off a quick search: "Pack mentality (also known as herd mentality, mob mentality, or gang mentality), unlike community-building, is defined by elements of hostility and fear: If you're within the pack, you better play by the rules or risk getting kicked out. If you're outside of the pack, you're the enemy and not to be trusted."

    While that all may be true (no doubt it is), that is not what I was getting at when I use the term. I've seen the pack mentality and how it manifests in encouraging a group to engage in bad acts. I've seen men do in groups things they would never do alone, and they would never want their mother to know they had done. They do to women that which they would never permit to be done to their sisters or daughters.

    It takes a man of real character and integrity to turn the momentum once it gets started. And it usually requires a man of substantial physical capabilities and fearlessness that are well known to the pack. Such men are rare. In fact, it is often the case where such a man (but lacking in the character and integrity), uses his prowess to lead the pack.

    That is one reason I am, for all practical purposes, a loner. I don't have what it takes to turn the momentum and so I steer clear of the BS in the first place. But I know it is going on out there. And our sole line of defense is that rare man, law enforcement, or the military. God help us when a POS is in those institutions, and where the blue or green wall has them packing up against those they are charged with protecting; covering for each other.

    We saw it on January 6th. That incident gave me a whole new appreciation for "community-building" and Obama's community organizing.

    A prime example of the cowardice involved in the pack mentality are those who disparage the community organizer/builder. It's a bully thing. I'm afraid it is not uncommon. That is why leadership is so, so important. If you have a leader that plays into the pack mentality, you have an enemy of the people.

    One of the few things on Earth that I am afraid of is the pack. When I see a loner, I don't see a serial killer or a whack job. I see someone minding their own business and someone who presents no threat to the security of a free state. It is people that present the threat.
  • Manuel
    1.6k
    One of the few things on Earth that I am afraid of is the pack. When I see a loner, I don't see a serial killer or a whack job. I see someone minding their own business and someone who presents no threat to the security of a free state. It is people that present the threat.James Riley

    Mostly agree with what you say.

    This quoted part though can be tricky. We also know of many "loners" (or whatever word we want to use) which end up shooting people at school. They'll do something perhaps analogous in other countries, less scale involved, but destructive acts nonetheless. So I wonder what word to use for these cases.

    The trick is how to be in your own world in a way that you don't harm other people while worldmaking.
  • James Riley
    2.1k
    This quoted part though can be tricky. We also know of many "loners" (or whatever word we want to use) which end up shooting people at school. They'll do something perhaps analogous in other countries, less scale involved, but destructive acts nonetheless. So I wonder what word to use for these cases.Manuel

    Three things come to mind:
    1. How many of those loners were victims of a pack that was not restrained by a real leader, or by a community that had been built or organized?
    2. While it is entirely possible that there is a link between shooters and being loners, I wonder if that link is like the one between violent video games and violence. I'm not sure, but last I heard, that link was found to not be causal.
    3. How many shooters were not loners? We can't call every criminal who acts alone a loner unless and until we find out if they had a social life outside the crime they happened to commit alone.

    P.S. Regarding the last, I don't always trust the MSM's lead on these things. A "loner" sounds more like a news lead than a socially functional type. It fits a narrative.
  • Manuel
    1.6k


    1) I don't know, I should look at some studies. Off the top of my head, my speculation would be that not all these people were necessarily ignored or abused by family. Maybe a good deal of them, but not all.

    2) Finding causality in these things is really hard. What I want to highlight, is the fictitious element in "loner-ism", which I partake in frequently. If these fictions begin telling someone that life is totally meaningless ergo I have to kill people to prove the point, then it's a problem. It needn't even get that far, but these ideas can be deranging. But groups inflict that too, as you point out in Jan.6 as an example.

    3) Good question and fair point.
  • James Riley
    2.1k
    Off the top of my head, my speculation would be that not all these people were necessarily ignored or abused by family. Maybe a good deal of them, but not all.Manuel

    Part of the same media tilt that I critique is that these guys were the victims of bullying. In fact, I thought a lot of the nation wide anti-bullying campaign arose out of, and was designed to avoid these situations where guys went on killing sprees or, committed suicide. "See that kid eating alone at lunch? Go try to befriend him" (The unspoken part: "or he'll kill you or himself.") I think the guys at Columbine that started the whole thing claim to have been bullied. Anyway, I don't claim to be an expert. I'm just running with the MSM like I say should not be done. :grin:

    If these fictions begin telling someone that life is totally meaningless ergo I have to kill people to prove the point, then it's a problem.Manuel

    Not that anyone on TPF is like that, but when I first arrived there were a lot of dark, hopeless views being expressed. They sounded more suicidal than homicidal, but who knows where the line is. It's also hard to tell what is a phase (gothing out in black, piercing, etc.) and what is some real serious mental issues. Either way, I know it cannot help to have a pack engaged in dog-pilling on these kids. I hate packs. Even if the loner is an asshole who deserves to be ostracized. I like people who befriend the lonely who don't want to be alone, as well as those who stand up to the pack when they see them bullying.
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