Log in

No account? Create an account
10 December 2014 @ 02:29 pm
Loneliness and conversational dynamics  
As a general rule, I prefer to be alone. Parties and events on weekends make me nervous because my usual unwinding time from work gets interrupted and also because I spend time dreading their approach as an interruption of my usual alone time. That's not to say that I don't have fun when I get there, because I do, but the thought process I have before hand is "Ugh, that's right, I'm going to [X] this weekend. There goes my Saturday night."

That said, I might be approaching things the wrong way:
This mistaken preference for solitude stems partly from underestimating others’ interest in connecting (Experiments 3a and 3b), which in turn keeps people from learning the actual consequences of social interaction (Experiments 4a and 4b). The pleasure of connection seems contagious: In a laboratory waiting room, participants who were talked to had equally positive experiences as those instructed to talk (Experiment 5). Human beings are social animals. Those who misunderstand the consequences of social interactions may not, in at least some contexts, be social enough for their own well-being.
That line about "underestimating others’ interest in connecting" really hits home with me, because I almost never initiate a conversation over an electronic medium due to worrying about bothering the other person. I'm a lot better about it in the age of texting, because there's an understanding now that texting is asynchronous in a way that IMing never really was, but I still don't carry on nearly the same number of conversations online as a lot of people seem to.

And reading this article, I ended up thinking of some of the times people have randomly talked to me on the CTA. And while I get extremely annoyed about things like people talking on their phones on mass transit, and even conversations nearby bother me because those old images of everyone reading the newspaper and ignoring each other is my idealized commute, I have to admit that CTA conversations run about 50/50. Some of them are people bothering me when I'm trying to read, and that almost always just annoys me. But some of them are people chatting when I'm just wasting time on my phone, and those I end up enjoying despite myself.

The incident that springs to mind was a bunch of obviously drunk people making nuisances of themselves and playing around on the CTA, until one of them sat next to me, ignored my attempts to rebuff him, and we eventually got to chatting about why they were Chicago (they were glassblowers) and what they were doing on the CTA (they were attending the SOFA expo at Navy Pier). I actually enjoyed the conversation, and alighted at my stop after having written down the dates of SOFA for the next few years so I'd know about it if I wanted to attend as a guest.

That also ties into something else I sometimes think about, which is the desire to have (some) other people force through one's barriers to talk to you. If someone tries to initiate a conversation and keeps trying to talk even in the face of reluctance, it proves that they are actually interesting to talking to you and not just putting on a front for the sake of politeness, whereas if you initiate a conversation with someone else you have no such reassurance. But that doesn't work in reverse, and badgering people to talk is certainly more likely to get them to only chat out of politeness while actually thinking badly of you (and they have no way of accessing your inner life), so often I end up talking to no one even when I'd like people to talk to me.

The Hedgehog's Dilemma. It's a thing.
Current Mood: lonelylonely
Current Music: The History of Japan podcast
q99q99 on December 11th, 2014 02:02 pm (UTC)
Yea, that's some interesting stuff *speaking as someone else who doesn't reach out and connect much*