Thursday, March 13, 2008

dichotomy

If I had to choose one word to best describe myself, it would probably be "anti-social". Now, a lot of people are going to disagree, and have disagreed, with that particular assessment. Heck, I have a website, and I have a blog. Up until recently, I participated in a number of discussion groups. I lurk in several other discussion groups. And within the last month or two, I have joined both yelp and twitter. So how could I possibly be involved with so many communities and yet still call myself anti-social?

First, I guess we need to define "anti-social". I have had a disagreement with the SO of a friend who insists that the term only has a clinical definition, something that's the equivalent of a sociopath or a psychopath. (Even with as much "Law and Order" as I've watched, I don't know the difference, and no, I don't really care. You get the idea.) I've decided not to engage in that argument and just don't use the word around either of them anymore. But apparently, I've been vindicated in my belief as my understanding of the word shows up as dictionary.com's second definition, which is "not wanting the company of others".

I'm used to spending a lot of time by myself, and I rather enjoy that. I've gone to movies and meals and concerts and amusement parks and even vacations by myself. Being able to entertain myself has never been a problem, and I'm an avid reader, so I will generally have some kind of reading material with me, especially if I'm expecting to be alone. And by "alone", I don't necessarily mean locked in a closet by myself. I could be around a ton of other people but not know anyone else who's there. I've even found that when I've been around a lot of people for any extended period of time, even people I really like, I need time by myself after that.

At work, I rarely have lunch with anyone. For me, lunchtime is my bubble time - I'm usually dealing with people all day long, whether it's on the phone or over email or in person, so the hour reprieve that I get from having to deal with any of that is really nice. I can quietly read or shop or whatever that maybe isn't too taxing on my brain, or sometimes, I'll be reading something that takes me to another world, which oftentimes makes it difficult to stop and come back to the crashing reality of "lunch is over, time to get back to work".

I've never been one to be a social butterfly - I know and know of people who can't stand to be alone, ever. To them, that's a painful punishment. I've had people feel sorry for me when they see me eating alone at a table at lunch, and they invite me over, only to be hurt when I decline. They can't understand how I could possibly choose to be alone when given the opportunity to be with other people. In most cases, it's because while I might be friendly with them, I'm not that interested in having an hour-long conversation with them discussing whatever. Given a choice between that and whatever book I'm engrossed in, I'm going to choose the book in most cases.

In the past, I've been involved in some activities which would definitely not be considered anti-social, and for the most part, I've enjoyed them, but there have been enough situations where I have wished that I was alone rather than with whomever (singular or plural) I was actually with at the time. I find that if I don't have to, I'm not tolerant of spending time with people I don't like. Some people would prefer to be around someone, anyone, than be alone. In my case, I'd rather be alone than be with people that I don't enjoy being around. And while there are times that I'm looking for particular people to hang out with, there are probably more times when I'd prefer just not to be around people.

OK, so then, why do I have a website and blog and why am I on various other websites and such? Well, I think part of the key for me is that they're passive connections all around. I read and post and participate when I feel like it, but nothing and no one requires me to participate at any given time, and the same is true for the people I interact with. I'm not in the position of forcing anyone to deal with me. If they're interested in what I have to say, they can read the website or the blog or the tweets (Is that what all twitter entries are called? That's apparently what Wil Wheaton calls them.) or the reviews on their own. Anyone can make the choice of whether they want to read what I have to say - they know where to find it, or random strangers might stumble on something accidentally. Since having the blog, I forward very few things around to friends. Even before, I generally didn't forward a lot, but I'd periodically send around news articles or information or something, and even though I was careful and tried to tailor what I sent to the appropriate people to send it to, you can still never know if you're bothering people with things they're not interested in. Heck, people send me stuff I *am* interested in, and sometimes, it still takes me a while, days, weeks, months to read them. While I still forward some things, usually things that don't really fit here or to people who I know don't read this, I forward much less than previously.

That's not to say that I don't also enjoy hanging out with my friends, but there are times when I don't even want to do that. And there are times when I don't really want to hang out with anyone, but some particular friend will call or email, and for whatever reason, I'm ok being around that person at that time. Can't explain it - there's no real reason for it. It's just how I feel at that moment. And there have also been situations in recent history where I've agreed to meet up with total strangers, much to the surprise of those who know me well enough to know what an anomaly those particular situations were.

And then there was the time when I was basically lectured because I wasn't willing to meet and converse with any random person who wanted to and look at all the potential goldmines of friendships I was missing out on and apparently, I was also being mean and selfish by depriving them of my scintillating personality. Yeah, whatever, I'm ok with that. I'm not lacking for friends, and I'm not collecting them (which is probably the *only* thing I'm not collecting, but more on that in a future entry), and while I think I *can* be a great friend, I'm not full of myself enough to think that every person who comes in contact with me has bettered their life because of it. I'm fine with the friends I have, and if I have missed out on whatever, I'll never know it, so I don't really care. As for those missing out on the fabulous friendship I can offer - learn to live with disappointment.

I'm not entirely sure this entry went where I had thought it was going to go, but oh well, sometimes that happens. See, aren't you glad you're not my friend? You don't have to be subjected to my constant ramblings!

4 comments:

JeffG said...

I think we are actually kind of similar in this respect. I've never thought of it so much as "anti-social" since I do tend to be pretty social when I want to be, but possibly more of a case of just being comfortable with myself as company.

I do think it is kind of funny that I just put up a post on my own blog yesterday where I also confessed to vastly preferring to spend my lunch hours alone rather than going out with co-workers, although the primary topic of the post was different. We should not get together and have lunch separately sometime... :)

Andrew said...

This totally describes me. I don't have a problem with the term "anti-social" because it's what I am--in general I don't like being around other people, with certain exceptions (Hi!). I get my social interaction online.

We should not get together and have lunch separately sometime... :)

I'll not join you. Isn't that what we do every day?

Cindy said...

Thanks for the responses! I was kinda worried about that entry, because as I was reading through it for final editing, I was thinking it wasn't making any sense and I maybe I shouldn't publish it, but I figured, hey, what the heck, live dangerously. I often do things that no one understands.

Jeff - I did read your blog entry yesterday but apparently didn't figure out that I'd only read the first bit and that there was more (even though I *know* it only puts the first bit on the first page), because I didn't remember you mentioning anything about lunch. I'll read the rest of it today, and maybe I'll have more to say than what I was going to respond with.

I'm actually home today because I wasn't feeling that well and decided it wasn't worth the effort to drive to work, especially since most of what I really had to do involved email, and in the past 3 hours, I've gotten almost all of that work done. And I'm enjoying being home alone - well, if you don't count Orkid, who keeps complaining that I'm here but not paying attention to her. Hey, you're a cat, you're not supposed to care if I pay attention to you, just that I'm here in case you want something from me.

OK, so the three of us are virtually having lunch together today - all in separate locations at different times. We need to schedule these more often! ;)

Sherry said...

The therapist part of me feels like charging you money for my voluntarily reading your self-analysis.

Damn, I'm greedy.

:)

OK, *seriously* now...it takes courage for someone to post something that personal about themselves, full-well knowing that your friends and acquaintances will be reading it. I do not have that courage, and I congratulate you for having it.

Sherry

My blog is worth $3,387.24. How much is your blog worth?