Loneliness Is A Scream

Loneliness Is A Scream

One of the scariest things for many people is not being with other people.

I don’t mean intentionally not being with others–taking time away from the hustle and bustle for yourself–but rather being left alone.

Think of the horrors of POWs kept in isolation, prisoners put in solitary, or just everyday kids icing out other children in school, adults marginalizing colleagues at work, and family members abandoning spouses and children at home.

Elizabeth Bernstein makes the distinction between being alone (a potential voluntary state) and loneliness (when you feel that you are forced into an isolated state) in the Wall Street Journal today.

It’s an awesome article that explains so much about loneliness:

– We all experience loneliness from “homesickness, bullying, empty-nesting, bereavement, and unrequited love.”

– Loneliness can occur when you are without anybody (“isolation”) or with the wrong somebody (“dissatisfaction”).

– It’s a survivalist function and evolutionary to feel scared when your alone, because when you are “too close to the perimeter of the group, [then you become] at risk of becoming prey.”

– Loneliness is also associated with memories or fears from childhood–when we were young and vulnerable–that someone wasn’t there or going to be there to take care of us.

– Too much loneliness is a “strong predictor of early death”–greater than alcoholism, 15 cigarettes a day, or obesity.

– Loneliness is on the rise, with “some 40% of Americans report being lonely, up from 20% in the 1980’s” and this is correlated with more people living alone, now 27% in 2012 versus 17% in 1970.

– Loneliness can be placated by “reminding yourself you’re not a [helpless] child anymore,” building emotional health and personal self-sufficiency, doing things you enjoy when alone, and reaching out to connect with others.

She jokes at the end of her article that when we aren’t feeling lonely, we are annoyed that people just don’t leave us alone.

This is a very real concern as well, especially with a multitude of family needs (significant others, young children, elderly parents), 24×7 work environments, and the reality of pervasive online communications and even invasive social media.

Not exclusive to introverts, too much people can make us feel put upon, crowded, and even worn out–and hence many people may even run from excessive social activity and crowds.

Yet without a healthy dose of others, people can literally go crazy from the quiet, void, boredom, as well as from the real or perceived feelings that they are in some way unworthy of love or affiliation.

So even though some people can be annoying, users, or try to take advantage of us, no man is an island, and growth, learning and personal serenity is through degrees of love and connection, for each according to their needs. 😉

(Source Photo: here)

Teamwork or Telework?

Teamwork or Telework?

Clive Thompson makes an interesting point in Wired (15 May 2013) on productivity versus creativity.

He says that people seem more creative when interacting with other people in a group, and more productive when left alone to get their work done.

Hence, he advocates for telework to improve individual productivity, but basically only after the team first gets together to figure out what creative things they should be doing.

While I agree that group interchange can be good for bouncing ideas around and sparking innovation, and that with some quiet time, people can plow through a lot of work on their own–this is only a very narrow perspective.

Really, very often, the exact opposite is true….think about it.

When alone, and with some quiet time to think, you may come up with some of your best and most creative ideas. That is because the pressure is off to strut your stuff with the others, the groupthink is gone, and you can concentrate and free associate. Inventors, writers, painters, and other creative types come up with some of the best innovations, when they are left alone to do their thing.

Similarly, when people are in a group, they can often be much more productive than when working alone. Whether in mass producing good as a team in a factory, as team mates in sports passing and scoring, as warfighters waging battle side by side, and even as the construction crew in the picture above putting up a brand new high-rise building–people, when working together, can do amazingly great and productive things.

So yes, while at times groups can spark creativity among each other and quiet time can be good for getting (some paper) work done, often the exact opposite is true–and the group can produce in quantity and quality and the individual can think, experiment, and truly innovate.

Group and individual work is not correlated one for one with creativity and productivity–it all depends on what you are trying to get done.

But either way, you need both telework and teamwork to think and produce. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)