By: Travis Hagen
“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.
I do believe that human beings are naturally led to be socially engaged. And that too much seclusion from other human beings is a practice that is detrimental for the individual who secludes themselves as such.
What I have an issue with is about what Aristotle says about those who are naturally unsocial. Aristotle mentions being naturally unsocial is “beneath our notice.” Which I take to mean “less than human.”
In society I truly do believe that an individual that is not so social, is perceived, and in a sense, is generally treated as less than human. When someone spends just a little bit too much time alone and speaks in ways that are outside the bounds of social acceptability even slightly, most people already begin wondering what’s wrong with this person.
I would classify myself on the socially awkward side of the spectrum. And sometimes socially isolative (yes, I made that word up). Now It isn’t that I don’t like people, I actually do like people. But I like people within a certain amount of human interaction, and over that amount (which isn’t a whole lot), I lose my interest rapidly.
I simply enjoy being at home, reading, writing, looking at YouTube or just hanging out with my wife more than hanging out with people!
I enjoy socializing at times, only that most of the time it feels more natural for me to spend time processing things in my mind away from people, instead of with others.
Many people around me seem to process their lives with other people so naturally. For me though It seems exhausting to think about talking to other people as much as I perceive the average human being does.
It seems exhausting to have as many lunches, parties, outings as I perceive the average human being partaking in as well!
With all of that being said, I go back to the knowing that human beings (which I know I am) do need social contact. And in My Life Experiment, periods of social isolation have had horrible consequences for my mental and emotional health.
Throughout my recovery from active addiction I have had to rely on other people for my well-being more than I realized I could handle. I have made strides in allowing more people into my world, which has kept me sustained and incredibly healthy over the last 9 years.
Though today, even though I am a healthy, responsible, and productive individual, I still find that it is simply part of my personality to shy away from much socialization.
Thankfully I have found acceptance with my style. Also, I have gained acceptance of the fact that I don’t need to socialize as much as others believe I should be socializing, or how much I perceive other people socialize!
I have come to accept that my personal style is my own. That it is no better, or no worse than anybody else’s. And it feels awesome to be cool with it! I don’t need to be something that I am not, in order to seem that I socialize just like all the others!
As for Aristotle, maybe I have him all wrong. But there is something within the “beneath our notice” comment that disturbs me.
I realize that this is a dog eat dog world, of sorts. And those that fit in, may end up more likely to not get eaten up as quickly. But I believe that those that end up accepting their more introverted social styles, will not get eaten up so quickly either. And they will also find their vital roles in society.
To believe that anyone that doesn’t socialize like the average human being is less than human, is crude and ignorant thinking.
Well, that is all I have for today on My Life Experiment! In my next article I will dig into a little more of the positives of the socially awkward, and more introverted styles of socializing!
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