What do we do, from a social standpoint, as we age?? How do we (or not) handle socializing in the face of aging. Is socializing good, advantageous, mandatory? Or is socializing something that gets in the way of doing . . . . . . whatever? This question of socializing is to be investigated from the standpoint of a jaded, 60+ year old male. Socializing has recently made a re-appearance into the normality of my off-day routine. This presents an opportunity to explore how it fits into ‘my’ personal space.
Human socialization has come to embody many layers. Some complexities exist therein but nothing so overwhelming. However, this complexity has given rise to a high occurrence of feelings of isolation. This is loneliness and it can be detrimental to the unaccustomed individual. Loneliness is not the same as alone. To be alone can be quite liberating. In fact, to be alone can be a modality, for some, for healing. Self-reflection is best affected in solitude. The solitude for some individuals is most enjoyable. For these people, socializing is an interruptive obligation.
Humankind has risen to domination of the landscape through cooperation and cognitive ability. It is through cooperation that humankind has been able to deal with elements and dangers that would have easily overwhelmed many solitary individuals. Sadly, it is the same cooperation and cognitive ability that has lent to the deterioration not only of the landscape but also of the inner self. The same self that struggles with socialization and solitude. Yet the converse is also reality in that companionship can give rise to situations, environmental or psychological. That are not easily rectified.
One person cannot erect a skyscraper, lay a transcontinental communications cable, practice the true defensive applications of martial arts or win a tug-o-war contest. There are many instances where companionship and cooperation hold sway and win the day. Evolutionarily, man is social creature. From the vista of needing to accomplish large projects that require sizeable inputs of time, effort and focus, the social conglomerate of cooperation is most indispensable. Many a person thrives on interacting, on being part of the group, on collective(ly) gathering. This does provide some mental stability, but it is not necessarily, completely stabilizing, per se.
Conversely, many conflate, incorrectly, the feeling of loneliness with the state of being alone. The key difference between being lonely and being alone is emotional attachment. Being alone is a state of being, while loneliness is a feeling . We can be perfectly happy being by ourselves, but we can also be lonely even if we’re with a group of people. This is to say that, at the core, socializing does little to substantially alter one’s sense of worth. Many depend on their associations for validation. When one is able to be alone, comfortably, it does not then matter if they are by themselves or in a group.
Typically, I avoid socializing. I have taken a path of solitude and reflection . . . . I just need to get some moxy and complete the items on my agenda. Yet, I seem to have gravitated towards befriending a couple of co-workers. A Milllenial Guy and a Gen-Z Young Lady. Heck, they are, both of them, young enough to be my children (if I had any). Although, I do admit that hanging around them is refreshing. We chat about social issues, metaphysics, geeky and nerdy stuff . . . . our conversations run the gamut. I actually pick up on some of the colloquialism of the day and, I am inspired to become more familiar with social media (for personal reasons).
Notwithstanding, at the end of the day, I do value my solitude. The station at which I currently reside, psychologically, requires that I tend to some, more pressing, internal concerns. Socializing does not lend to that degree of reflection or introspection. However, the friendships that I have developed are, at least for now, positive bids for the act of socializing. Now, I just need to meet more regularly with my Taiji Quan Push Hands group . . . . .