Lenten Blog Day 8 The Fear of Our Own Unknown.
The opposite of “our own unknown” is our need to be known. When did our lives become so dependent on being recognized, on the number of likes we get on a post or our ability to connect with hundreds of people through technology? Is this need connected to our fear of being alone? From William Deresiewicz’s classic article “The End of Solitude.” “Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves — by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity.” This week I’m blogging on the fear of being alone. I begin with excerpts from this article that is “spot on”. You can find the article in many places. I found it here: https://www.hermitary.com/solitude/deresiewicz.html
As we live our lives with the desperate need to connect and to be known (says the woman writing a blog….), if we are not careful we will find ourselves living in relation to others. We start to believe that what we think is only relevant or important if it is validated by others. The event matters only when I capture a picture and get a hundred likes. Deresiewicz goes on to talk about how we have allowed technology to take away our privacy and our ability to be alone. We are “text” crazy. The Pew Research Center tells us that 18-24 year old send and receive about 124 texts a day which translates into a text every 8 minutes of our waking hours. Which basically means we are never alone. (well, ok that “we” is not really me… my age bracket had much lower numbers…lol… but you get the drift)
Dereisiewicz continues: “Man may be a social animal, but solitude has traditionally been a societal value. In particular, the act of being alone has been understood as an essential dimension of religious experience, albeit one restricted to a self-selected few. Through the solitude of rare spirits, the collective renews its relationship with divinity. The prophet and the hermit, the sadhu and the yogi, pursue their vision quests, invite their trances, in desert or forest or cave. For the still, small voice speaks only in silence. Social life is a bustle of petty concerns, a jostle of quotidian interests, and religious institutions are no exception. You cannot hear God when people are chattering at you….” Amen brother. Jesus gives us the great example of this. He goes off into the wilderness for 40 days; he separates himself from the disciples to go and pray. Jesus was not afraid to be alone.
We are afraid to be alone first because we think that makes us insignificant, and second because we have forgotten how. Can we learn how to be alone and not lonely? Psychology Today says yes, we can indeed “cultivate the capacity to be alone well.”
More on that tomorrow.
Grace and Peace