William Deresiewicz, returning to his sad theme:
The great contemporary terror is anonymity. So we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude. Technology is taking away our privacy and our concentration, but it is also taking away our ability to be alone.
Solitude isn't easy, and isn't for everyone. It has undoubtedly never been the province of more than a few. "I believe," Thoreau said, "that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark." Teresa and Tiresias will always be the exceptions, or to speak in more relevant terms, the young people — and they still exist — who prefer to loaf and invite their soul, who step to the beat of a different drummer. But if solitude disappears as a social value and social idea, will even the exceptions remain possible? Still, one is powerless to reverse the drift of the culture. One can only save oneself — and whatever else happens, one can still always do that. But it takes a willingness to be unpopular.
In the archive, more from Deresiewicz:
There’s been much talk of late about the loss of privacy, but equally calamitous is its corollary, the loss of solitude.
From last year, Jonathan Franzen:
Privacy, to me, is not about keeping my personal life hidden from other people. It's about sparing me from the intrusion of other people's personal lives.
From last year's best-of:
One of the greatest compliments I have ever given anyone I dated is that being with him was like being alone.