Social Question

rangerr's avatar

"No man is an island." Is that always true?

Asked by rangerr (15666 points ) January 24th, 2010

The more I think about it, the easier it seems to not have people close to you.
Feelings get confused and hurt a lot. With both friends and SO’s.

Do we really need close friends? Or is it possible to actually be happy on your own?

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37 Answers

simone54's avatar

What about the Isle of Man?

MissAnthrope's avatar

Wow. GQ. I consider myself an island and feel like I could survive just fine without other people. People = hurt and pain. But I do get lonely and crave some human contact.

SeventhSense's avatar

We need contact or we lose perspective. Even Fluther is reaching out. I’m definitely more of a lone wolf but still I want to connect.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t see how you can possibly go through life with no other human contact. Who doesn’t go to the grocery store, work with or around other people? If you go to a great deal of effort, you can actually remove yourself from any outside contact, but why? Just in the day to day life you will naturally interact with dozens.

Jeruba's avatar

I understand your feeling, @rangerr, and I have had similar thoughts myself at times. I used to joke about wanting to be a hermit, and as with most jokes, there was a strain of truth in it. This past question brought out a number of comments on this subject.

Yes, some people are quite content without human associations, but I think they have something else going for them, such as, for example, that they are Buddhist sages. The rest of us do need each other, I think, even though at times trying to sustain relationships just doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble.

In my personal life I have contact with or connection to a lot of people, but the number I would truly call friends is very small. I don’t need or want many, nor do I want to put effort into the upkeep of a lot of relationships. But I know I’d be unhappy if there were none—at least for a while. After a time I think I might get used to that state and not miss it. And I would have said the same thing before the Internet.

But I do believe that people who are alone all the time and don’t maintain some kind of social connection get weird. They develop unconscious mannerisms. They wear strange things. They forget how to make casual friendly conversation. These things warn people off and reinforce their isolation. Even if they want to break through the barrier, they don’t remember how.

At your age you should not be contemplating such a thing. Instead I think you’d do best to look at what is making your relationships so unsatisfactory and try to correct that, either by changing the dynamics or by changing friends—rather than abandoning your ties to your fellow human beings, who are much more like you than they are different.

loser's avatar

I’m not happy on my own. Maybe I’m just not good island material, but my vote is no.
And now I’ve got that song stuck in my head!

MissAnthrope's avatar

It sounds insane, but I’d kind of like to live in a cabin in the woods. I don’t need people on a day-to-day basis. As long as I have internet. :P

rangerr's avatar

@YARNLADY I didn’t necessarily mean no human contact. Just allowing people to get close to your heart/mind. If that makes sense.
More or less just frustrated with hurt feelings that always seem to be a result.

@Jeruba Oh, I didn’t see that question before I asked… I wouldn’t have asked this one. =/

YARNLADY's avatar

@rangerr Oh, no close friends/family is easy – every other activity requires other people, if you expect the normal things we live with, food, heat, electricity, and such. It is actually possible to provide your own food and water, and not use any heat or electricity, but much harder.

Jeruba's avatar

@rangerr, our search functionality is poor, and that question was not quite the same. I linked to it not to say you shouldn’t have asked but only to offer the benefit of other comments in the same vein.

oratio's avatar

I feel very much like that with the experience of my last relationship. Every time you get burned, it’s harder to give someone your life and trust. It’s just safer being alone.

But I don’t want to grow old and have no one to share it with. We only get one life, and every single day we decide who we are and what to do with it. I know I have to go out to that cliff and base jump again. To me, love is the only thing that makes life have any real sense.

But I know old people who has been single their whole life, and seem quite happy. What I have never seen is a happy person with no friends.

rangerr's avatar

@oratio “To me, love is the only thing that makes life have any real sense.”
I couldn’t agree more. Also with the “It’s just safer being alone.” part.
Two conflicting things, and I have NO idea what to do.

oratio's avatar

Well. I came out of my last relationship with really bad self esteem and depression; because of trust issues, never ending fights(physical) and constant problems. I tried half heartedly a couple of months ago to date, but it didn’t turn out that well. I know that one of the biggest reasons I don’t even try to date now, is because I am afraid to have it confirmed that I don’t deserve to be happy. Yup, it is quite stupid, I know, and only self-inflicted isolation. I think in the end living like that, people become bitter. I don’t want to go there.

I guess one has the right to sulk and kick stones for some time. Then it’s time to make some phone calls.

rangerr's avatar

@oratio I understand completely.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

“No man is an island” is a generalization!

All generalizations are false, including this one.

lilikoi's avatar

Humans are inherently social animals. I think even the most antisocial people (like me sometimes) need human contact occasionally to stay sane. I disagree with above poster – this is not really a generalization. Recall Tom Hanks and his ball man in Cast Away.

You could interpret this quote to mean that all people are interdependent, not only for social contact but also for survival. If you work a white collar job, you are relying on others to provide you with food, clothing, water, sewer system, other infrastructure, design and build your home, harvest and process the materials required to do that, etc etc etc. You could not maintain your lifestyle if you were completely isolated. So, yes, in modern times especially, no man is an island.

Sophief's avatar

I am a loner. I never used to be. When I was between 21 and 24 I had loads of friends and very socially active. It was ok, but it was hassle. Now I do not have one single friend and that is the truth, I don’t want any friends. I like to be me.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I have never been keen on being part of a crowd of friends at a time.
I do like people, in small groups for limited periods.
I adore being in the same place as my wife, even if we are not interacting most of the time.
I do not enjoy being alone for weeks or months on end.

higherground's avatar

It reminds me of a song by KT Tunstall , and one part of the song goes like this :

“Every body sails alone , but we can travel side by side . . .”

PandoraBoxx's avatar

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

I tend to think of the quote as referring to individual actions are not independent, that everything an individual does affects what happens around him/her.

liliesndaisies's avatar

I’m not happy on my own. But at most times people would be happier without me around.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

It’s not worth it.

J0E's avatar

I can be contently happy on my own, but happier when I’m with people I like.

Nullo's avatar

Another reading of that line – the one that came to my mind – is that you cannot isolate yourself from your environment. Which seems true enough.

liliesndaisies's avatar

Though sometimes it’s better to be an island at times—away from the others.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think some people can pull it off – they can better connect to nature or books or pets or themselves than to others – that’s fine by me.

jeanna_'s avatar

I enjoy being alone. I have always been a loner and I work/feel best when I am not around anyone. Maybe one day I will meet someone who makes me feel like being around people is better, or at least being around them, but that hasn’t happened yet. I talk to myself, I sing any songs I want, I dance around, I watch silly movies, I cry, I write, I read and I enjoy all of those alone. Being with people is pressure to me…I feel pressured with others around, like I must talk to them…must engage. But I don’t want to. I just want to sit and think and they feel left out and they feel bothered by the silence. I love the silence.

Silhouette's avatar

I think the truth is, every man is an island. I think this idea scares the shit out of most people so they come up with snappy little sayings like “No man is an island” to make themselves feel better. They depend on the idea of interconnectedness to make them feel less adrift and alone. I know I am an island, and I know my family is made up of other islands and together we make up a rather happy little land mass.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

@Silhouette How can this be true if we as a species haven’t even been able to have enough physical distance to create any kind of speciation?

Silhouette's avatar

@Shield of Achilles I don’t know about you but I’ve seen some children who look like poster children for speciation.

jonsblond's avatar

@jeanna_ You just made me feel not so alone. :) I feel exactly as you do.

jeanna_'s avatar

@jonsblond I knew there was a reason (or a hundred reasons) I like you. heh

SeventhSense's avatar

If all the loners get together are we still loners?

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Sometimes it is good to take a break and go somewhere away from all the noise. I prefer camping, boating, or fishing. Away from cars, radio, tv, people, etc. Once all the noise is gone, you’re forced to deal with the noise in your own head. It puts things into perspective and lets you figure out what you actually want. Breaks like that make it much easier to deal with the stresses of maintaining relationships later on.
Just my two cents,
-Dan

ChaosCross's avatar

I would say, God willingly, yes, it is possible.

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