On Social Isolation

During the U.S. government handling of the 2020-2021 Covid19 social distancing experiment, I discovered how emotionally unaffected I am by wholescale cancellations of social events, widespread travel restrictions, various venue closers and all the rest of the people-separating mandates. In fact, my natural response to the changes confirmed that I am not only introverted; I am also very comfortable in social isolation.

What upsets people is not things themselves, but their judgements about these things. — Epictetus

At no time during the year-long-plus affair was I lonely or bored. I am aware that other people were measurably frustrated and or in some degree of turmoil during the lockdown, but I was emotionally unaffected. In fact, I experienced almost no change to my normal day-to-day life.

Many experts claim that living in isolation presents very real health risks. Perhaps for some, but interestingly I am unaware of any deleterious side effects from either forced or chosen isolation.

It’s not that I dislike being around other human beings. I just usually find conversations focused on such topics as current politics, spectator sports, video entertainments and even table games to be, at best, tedious. My life experience has been that most people rarely show much interest in engaging with others beyond these types of surface-focused discussions.

"Tedious," by the way, is my polite way of saying “dull.”

What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes…some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow. — Seneca

Now, admittedly, some of the political discussions are not exactly dull. For many, political opinionating seems to pass for their concept of deep discussion. Frequently filled with anxiety, anger, fear and a host of other negative emotions, people’s political opinions run wild and their hysterical worry over the future can be tortuous to them and to their listeners.

Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside. — Marcus Aurelius

While recently conversing with a neighbor during one of my daily walks, I was informed of reports about some supposed nefarious national government conspiracy being hatched. I stated that I no longer watched television news, and so was unaware of whatever this person was talking about. I was sharply rebuked in no uncertain terms by this person that “You need to be informed! You need to know what’s going on!”

Since I have negligible (if any) power to change or influence events hundreds and thousands of miles away, I can’t see any lasting benefit that can be gained from brooding over every reported crisis and cause on the planet. It seems to me that primarily all that is really accomplished by the media-addicted “informed” is the construction of self-made prisons to house perpetual anxiety. I value my mental freedom and emotional tranquility too much to give it away so easily.

You have power over your mind not outside events, realise this and you will find strength. — Seneca

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