Social isolation is a real problem for the post-divorce demographic. It’s more acute for men. I am constantly exhorting men to step away from the TV or computer monitor and get out of the house. Human beings are social creatures. It’s in our DNA. Of course there are misanthropic souls who seek to reject human interaction. Those individuals are outliers and should be left to their own solo devices.
Being social is a challenge. Technology and suburbia work very hard to physically isolate ourselves from each other. A comfortable gated community combined with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are socially damaging forces that diminish our collective social skills. Without effective social skills, it becomes exponentially more difficult to meet relationship goals. Video games and porn are additional cancers to the growing anti-social nature of our culture. This is not entirely a gender-specific issue. I heap contumely on men but women take themselves out of social life, as well.
As social creatures, human beings need to be around each other. We need to see each other. More specifically, we need to see faces and overhear verbal discussions. This is not about attraction and dating. This is about the basic human characteristic of needing to connect with others. Social isolation is debilitating. Introverts especially need to connect, even if passively through simple observation.
Before I dispense with advice, I will acknowledge that I am afforded three huge luxuries that color my perception of social interaction.
- I live in a small town (but it’s surrounded by a densely populated urban area) and so I am connected well to neighbors.
- I now work in a city with lots of potential social contact. Yes, there is a downtown Fort Lauderdale. Given my eyeball woes , I take the bus to work and humanity in all its glory is riding with me twice daily.
- I live in a sub-tropical climate and that means being outdoors is far easier. It was 80 degrees today. Welcome to south Florida.
Being out in the world and interacting with people, despite the weather, is socially healthy. I recommend that every man and woman makes a point to leave the house to find a place where there are lots of people. This recommendation is not about approaching people. It’s simply about being around people so as to watch, listen, and learn. Be the researcher. Staying at home is the direct opposite of this.
Nightclubs are not a good place because they are too loud. There is no way to overhear verbal interactions when the music is blasting. If you insist on clubbing, you can certainly see, at least, body language. A cafe or restaurant with sidewalk seating and/or bar is perfect (weather permitting, of course). Waiting in line for a sandwich is a great way to observe or interact with other people. I recommend striking up a conversation with those around you, no matter who they are.
Working in a city where people are out and about has an unspoken energy and aura regarding the social nature of our humanity. As an extrovert, I am energized by this. My mood is brightened. But introverts can also benefit by feeling that social energy. Nobody, especially me, is forcing the average introvert to thrust himself or herself into social interaction. I’m simply advising everyone to find a place to feel that social energy. Given the remarkably crappy weather up north, that will obviously be an indoor space like a mall or supermarket.
It’s impossible to ignore our social nature. Misanthropes might hate that. Introverts will be uncomfortable with that. That social nature should be indulged often enough to avoid the very real problem of social isolation. Technology should be resisted in favor of face to face interactions. This is why I am so keen on Meetup.com singles events for the post-divorce crowd. Yes, I see the irony of posting this advice on an Internet blog and yes, online dating is a real thing.
As for the social element of the average white-collar job, I’m not discounting it. Just know that familiarity can cause contempt. This can make the work environment actually an anti-social place. As well, spending all one’s free time solely with friends is too easy. Being around strangers is a better way to experience the social aspect of life.