Social Question

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Is being antisocial necessarily a bad thing?

Asked by Tenpinmaster (2920points) January 30th, 2010

I have never liked being around, or talking to a lot of people unless I absolutely have to. I have never been comfortable talking to people and I remember being told that it is not good to be anti social. Is that true? Is it truly not healthy to fully interact with people even though you are not comfortable doing so.

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82 Answers

Pandora's avatar

Only bad in the sense that you automatically surrender the possiblilities of many different opportunity to grow out of your shell. Only through interacting with others do you discover more about yourself. Plus humans by design crave being or belonging to a group.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The trick is to neither DO something nor NOT do something simply because people said it wasn’t right. You may indeed have a mild form of antisocial behavior, but as long as you can still function effectively in society at large, it’s entirely your business.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I think it really depends on the people you’re around. If you lived in my hometown, being anti-social is a wonderful thing. It’s full of small minded people.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

So could this behavior be linked to some kind of medical problem? Perhaps some kind of chemical imbalance?

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal Oh wow.. so being closed up kept you out of trouble? What kind of people lived in your town?

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Tenpinmaster-I didn’t really keep my self closed up, I just chose not to associate with most of the people from my hometown. Most of them were small minded rednecks! I’m not by any means saying that all rednecks are small minded, but in my town they are. If you don’t like country music and wear cowboy boots, then to them something’s wrong with you.
Wearing a cowboy hat was a plus with them as well.

CaptainHarley's avatar

LMAO @Self_Consuming_Cannibal ! Sounds like the town I live in now! I prefer to get along with everyone, whenever possible, but I truly understand what you mean! : D

life_after_2012's avatar

Self_Consuming_Cannibal you have a good point. im beging to feel the same way about my where i live. the only problem is, this place is the 3rd largest city in america and boy are there some small minded people here.

janbb's avatar

I think it depends on how you are defining “anti-social.” If you mean you don’t like to be in large groups or party, I don’t think it is harmful at all. Some people do and some peole don’t. If you mean you can’t form any intimate connections and have no friends you are close to, I think you are missing out on one of the greatest and richest parts of life and might want to examine why this is so.

poisonedantidote's avatar

those who don’t like antisocial people are normally quite social, so they are biased and should not be listened to.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

CaptainH-I’m glad someone knows how I feel. Hey how did you get my name to show up in red with the @ sign in front of it?

life after 2012-Sometimes being around some of the people in my town makes me feel like my IQ’s actually dropping. I can actually hear my brain cells dying!

FlutherMe's avatar

I feel kind of the same way. I function and stuff, but for the most part I am not too social. It’s not that I am scared or hate people or anything. I just find it very annyoing, costly, and draining to find parties, women, please the group, get help with things, etc. I’ll just do my own thing.

I do have a good group of friends, but for the most part I’m independent. I always wondered myself if it was “bad?” I mean I’de like to be more social, but I do not want to put the energy into it, and I have realized that nothing is free in this world, so I just live!

Your_Majesty's avatar

“Homo Homini Socious”. There’s nothing wrong being anti-social,it makes you more independent. As long as you can live with that it would be just fine.

Bluefreedom's avatar

It is if you’re trying to make friends and influence people.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal

Just type in the @ right before the name and it will show up like it does above. : ))

It’s strange that sometimes the very people we hold in low regard are the ones who help form the backbone of the Country. Some of the hardest working, most honest people I have ever met are the very ones with whom I feel I have little in common. It helps if you believe, as I do, that God doesn’t make mistakes, although it seems to me at times that he needs to rethink the proportions. Heh!

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

@CaptainHarley
Thanks for your help with the @ question and about God making mistakes…Don’t you believe that Richard Simmons is living proof that sometimes even God can make horrible, horrible mistakes? lol

efritz's avatar

I really dread being with a bunch of people I don’t know, too. It takes a lot of effort for me to be nice and sociable to other people, so it’s hard for me to make friends – but I have a small group of people I am really close to, so I feel comfortable with my social life. As long as you have a few people you care about, having a huge posse doesn’t really matter in my opinion.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Thats the way i feel too efritz. My girlfriend is very outgoing and I want to be like that but I really don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers. She can talk to anybody and she is so very friendly. I just didn’t know If i was unhealthy or if it was normal for people to feel like I do.

Cruiser's avatar

Nothing wrong with it all…but meeting people…getting to know all the differnt personalities, senses of humor, likes and dislikes is truly the spice of life and life without experiencing all these wonderful interactions with truly unique and cool people would be less fulfilling…at least to me it would.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

It’s not altogether a bad thing——keeps one out of trouble, since most people are trouble. Lol. But life wouldn’t be life without conflict, and socializing with others brings not only potential conflict but personal growth as well. Human beings are basically social animals——everyone needs some sort of social interaction, some less some more than others, but nevertheless some interaction. It preserves one’s sanity and mental capacities. But like I said, interacting with people also brings its miseries and troubles. I’m of the nature where I’m somewhat anti-social too, but I like to mingle amongst the crowd once in awhile to add some spice to my life, as they say. Snark, snark!

mass_pike4's avatar

Being antisocial is fine. I am a fairly out going person, but I too at times just want to do my own thing and do not want to interact even when everyone else is doing so in a social setting. If you choose not to be social, still pretend that you are enjoying the company, small talk, etc. You can do this by saying little things here and there and always smiling. People will respect you more when you look happy. People may even just smile back and go there separate ways. It does not matter if you are antisocial, just do not let it get to you. If you dread speaking to others in a social setting, find a person or a small group and socialize with them. If you notice someone needs help with carrying something, help them out. You do not necessarily have to talk. It is the small things that matter

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal

LMFAO!!! Well, at least he has some entertainment value! : D

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Tenpinmaster I think what you are describing is asocial, rather than antisocial. Antisocial is actively working against the social structures, being actively disruptive or harmful. Asocial is just staying away from other people or social situations, a passive process. Asocial people just want to be left alone but do not interfere with other people.

At the age of ten, I engaged in a debate with a school administrator who accused me of being antisocial. My contention was that I was not antisocial but asocial and was harming no one by it. I won the exchange.

SeventhSense's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land
Plus five for clarifying that. Being anti social is hardly an admirable trait. Going your own way is fine but being a menace to society is not good for anyone.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, it’s not a bad thing at all. I consider myself both a very social being an an anti-social individual..I know it sounds off but it’s possible.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Well thank you for that clarification. I stand corrected :)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir There are a lot of stupid social conventions that are well worth being “anti-”

rawrgrr's avatar

It’s not really a bad thing. You can still be happy and with peace even if antisocial. It’s just how you choose to live and in some places it can be better.

Steve_A's avatar

@Tenpinmaster People tell me the same thing that its bad to be “anti-social” we are “social creatures” as if I don’t talk to people or do what the norms of society I am must be crazy or something.I guess a fear of it is a bad thing but if you choose not to, then whats the big deal.

I am not sure if I fall in this category per se for I just don’t care about what people do its like everyone just parties and talks about dumb drama on a constant basis.

I think I have different interest and a different mind set compared to people I know, or see.(real life) If it was internet I’d have too many lol….

outside of work I literally know no one.I prefer it to a degree.But I am also in a point in my life where I am not comfortable or where I want to be.

So to sum it up for me its not a bad thing at all, how do you feel it is to you?Like is it a fear or something, could you handle if you had to do so?

galileogirl's avatar

I think you mean you are unsocial or asocial rather than anti-social. People who behave against societal norms, like Charles Manson, are anti-social. People who are happy in their own company and need less social interaction are asocial (without society)

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@galileogirl Yea i appologize, i mis-used the term. @stranger_in_a_strange_land pointed that out. :) but i meant asocial instead of anti-social. I don’t like to kill people or destroy things. =D

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Well i feel better about myself. Great answers guys :)

DrMC's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I agree 100% – it’s OK to be asocial. We each have our own social drive if you will. It also depends on the situation and crowd.

@Tenpinmaster be what you are, socialize when you feel moved to do so.

The more I work with the public, the more I like my katz.

ninjacolin's avatar

all that you need is positive memories. MOST people accomplish these in large part through the acquisition and fun times had with others.

few are natural hermits.

Janka's avatar

I don’t think it is antisocial or even asocial if you just feel comfortable spending a lot of time alone. As long as you are kind to people you do meet and not unhappy about the lack of relationships, and have at least a couple of people you can rely on in an emergency or for advice, what’s the problem?

Sophief's avatar

It isn’t strange at all. I am exactly the same, I hate going out, I hate meeting new people. Luckily, my boyfriend is the same, and we only need each other. We are the most anti-social people I have ever known.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m like @Dibley , only now partnerless. There is nothing harmful is being a loner or having only a small circle of friends. The only harm is to yourself, if you are deprived of social contact and you are the type who requires it. Most loners-by-choice don’t and are not harmed by solitude.

mattbrowne's avatar

Being more social makes us more healthy long term.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@mattbrowne For neurologically normal people, yes. For those of us in the autism spectrum, trying to be “more social” can lead to unrealistic expectations, frustration, misunderstandings and hurting others and ourselves. We all have to find a point of comfort. I envy people who can socialize easily, but have long since come to the realization that the “hardwiring” of my brain just won’t allow it.

DrMC's avatar

@mattbrowne I think there is a strong correlation between support group and outcomes in disease. Nevermind my avatar it’s an inside joke.

@Tenpinmaster your welcome! – actually most of use are not hermits if were are communicating online as we are. I think matt’s point is worth considering, it is consistent with the data. Most of us “hermit” types have some close ties. People that will show up at your funeral.

My personal philosophy is to be what I am, while trying to be better. In junior high I tried to be what I am not, and that just made me the character (as in odd) that I am today. Accepting yourself for whatever makes you unique is the first step towards internal peace.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@DrMC that philosophy works. So I have a another question.. what causes social anxiety? I remember going to a college party and for no reason i felt like I was having a panic attack and ended up sitting in a corner trying to breath. What does that mean.

DrMC's avatar

ah, social anxiety – I think its a primary instinct, and some have it more than others. I believe it can be conditioned, and one can learn confidence and coping skills.

The problems with social phobia is that it is reinforced by avoidance of social encounter. It’s akin to the fear of performing on stage, and there are more than a few very famous performers that have overcome it, or worked in spite of it.

Psychologists and psychiatrist are the most effective at assisting, but the first step is one of insight or recognition.

IMO this is where having a decreased interest in being public can become unhealthy to the point that it interferes with living in some cases.

I perform publically, but I have a reasonable willpower, and spirituality that assist.

SeventhSense's avatar

@DrMC
Good point. Avoidance can exacerbate the problem rather than ameliorate it. It’s like negotiating with the terrorists of your psyche to placate them and finding they have more demands.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@DrMC Wow! That is a very professional answer. You must have a real MD huh? =o) I never understood why I have had these problems around people . My parents never understood how i felt and why I didn’t want to go to their social gatherings. Even when my girlfriend starts talking to strangers i tend to back away because it’s instinctive to do so. I try to remove myself from the situation just so I don’t have to deal with my “problem” Do people have luck with psychologists and such? Can talking about it with a professional really cure this?

DrMC's avatar

@Tenpinmaster just ask your primary care doc first. There are antidepressents that help a little. I know too little about your situation to really give applicable good advice, but your primary can help you decide where best to invest your time and money if needed.

And yes, true social phobia is treatable. Actually normal people even benefit from therapy. In a sense, we are all growing, and therapy can be seen as a growth facilitator.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@DrMC I will do that. How do antidepressants help with anxiety. I never understood how a pill can control moods.

DrMC's avatar

We actually don’t know exactly what they are doing, but we have a pretty good idea. Most drugs that treat mental illness effect the signals passed from nerve to nerve. Our brain is made up of a bunch of nerves that act like wires, interwoven, that produce the experience of consciousness and mood.

Many recreational drugs block or effect the nerve transmission in the brain. Example: LSD tickles the receptors area involved with forming visual concepts and higher meaning. Opiates tickle reward receptors involved in learning and pleasure. Cannibiniods trigger fluther-like sensations.

Medications for the brain also target or mimic the molecules that carry nerve transmission signal to the next nerve in the chain. See synapse, and see this jpg

The SSRI’s or serotonin re-uptake inhibitors block the re-uptake of serotonin used in nerve transmission. Serotonin receptors are involved in many different functions in your body, and there are some genetic models of altered serotonin function associated with altered behavior, anxiety and aggression. This is a somewhat technical review of the ”serotonin hypothesis of depression

Certain SSRI’s have been promoted as effective in social phobia – bit it’s been a while since I’ve seen that literature. These patients are giving Celexa, an SSRI a mixed review for social phobia.

A whole lot of medicine is on what I call the ”witch hazel level” – when you eat it, you discover this and that happened. Don’t know why, but you use the drug since it works, and doesn’t hurt you. (BTW I don’t advocate using witch hazel)

Ah the joys of modern medicine – funny though, in the end there is a disease treated by phlebotomy – hemochromotosis.

A good example of witch hazel science: developed a nitrous oxide pathway drug for blood pressure control, and none of the patients wanted to give the left over samples back. It made their erections better. – Viagra.

Am I scaring you yet?

Janka's avatar

@mattbrown Is there evidence that being more social than you feel actually makes you happier? What I have seen is simply correlations, which could as easily be interpreted that people who are naturally social also happen to be healthier. The conclusion that people who do not enjoy social activities would benefit from forcing themselves to those does not necessarily follow. (Of course, avoiding social activities because you are anxious or scared about them is completely different from just preferring to be alone.)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Excellent logic @Janka ! I seriously doubt that forcing autistic people to socialize is going to make us any healthier.

DrMC's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land and @Janka I agree, forcing unnatural patterns is just going to make you feel unnatural.

When I’m depressed, I withdraw – I’ve found if I work through it, and attend choir practice, the main mood of the song displaces my negative one. Depression has a vicious cycle aspect to it, and withdrawal is part of that. – this is part of the well established association of depression that worsens cardiac outcomes after MI (heart attack).

In terms of putting on a “happy face” when you are morose, young and healthy I don’t think this is as relevant. It is also quite possible to have a tight circle of close friends and be very happy, needing nothing of excessive social activity.

Actually some of those who are aggressively pursing social validation are doing so without finding relief. They may be empty on a deeper level, and it’s apparent to the perceptive.

In summary, I agree with everyone actually. Is that possible?

Janka's avatar

@DrMC, makes sense to me. I think one needs to be very careful with not confusing withdrawing because of depressed mood, or fear, or anxiousness, from simply preferring to spend time alone. And also sincerely preferring company from simply seeking social acceptance. It is not always of course easy to figure out which it is going on in your mind, but you should try, and experiment.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@Drmc Wow. So what are the downsides of being on antidepressants? I would think that these medicines would defiantly make one feel good about everything.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Tenpinmaster they aren’t 100% effective and they have many side effects.

mattbrowne's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land – Yes, the rules for Asperger’s and autism are different.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Janka – Well, there are two types of correlations: one coincides with causation and the other does not. A prominent example of the latter is this: a correlation between a rise in babies being born, and storks in the area, is not evidence that storks cause an increase in birth.

I think social relationships and happiness fall into the first category. Here’s a reference to a more recent study:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happiness#Happiness_in_social_networks

SeventhSense's avatar

@Tenpinmaster
Much of it is still theoretical and the effects on serotonin/dopamine and other neurotransmitters is not completely clear but it does appear that antidepressants do have beneficial effects. What is clear is that serotonin(necessary for brain function) is in limited supply and can’t be restored quickly by the body. If it’s used up within the brain at the synapses this can affect mood. And obsessive or anxious thoughts can cause the neural pathways to be taxed by over stimulation much as a broken record can repeat a line again and again.
The Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors limit the amount of serotonin that is released and subsequently limit the “payoff’ of the obsessive/depressive thought firing across the synapse and decrease it’s occurrence. Although there are other side effects like a decrease in libido noted among some people. Although years ago I was on Prozac and I never noted any problems with that.

FlutherMe's avatar

@DrMC

“Cannibiniods trigger fluther-like sensations”

Right on brother. They make me want to fluther

DrMC's avatar

@FlutherMe haha, the names have been changed to….

DrMC's avatar

@Tenpinmaster they aren’t happy pills. Ordinary people will feel side effects only.

If you are severely depressed however, thinking moment to moment about death, craving suicide, and unable to sleep. Moved to tears in seconds. Unable to eat or keep food down, losing weight hand over fist, then some drugs will have you lightening up a bit. Sometimes just good enough for you to go through with the suicide.

Severe depression is nasty shit, not to be wished on even a member of congress.

That depression can be so devastating, and lethal (through suicide) warrants the cost and tolerance of annoying side effects.

SeventhSense's avatar

@DrMC
Na depression is for lightweights, try NPD It just makes you want to kill other people

DrMC's avatar

@SeventhSense narcissm, but only one of us can be the greatest that ever lived?

SeventhSense's avatar

If I could only imagine a competition. Alas it’s torture.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@DrMC Yea I know how bad depression can be. It’s defiantly the worst thing I have to deal with. Your seem very elite at medical things.. are you a Dr in RL?

josie's avatar

Being anti social is only a problem if it is in conflict with your social goals or desires. For example you can not be anti social, and at the same time be frustrated that you have few friends or social activities. If you can easily reconcile the two, what is the problem?

SeventhSense's avatar

I encourage anyone with slightest interest to take this test

DrMC's avatar

@Tenpinmaster yes but If I tell you I’ll have notify the death panel. ; )

DrMC's avatar

@SeventhSense how bout this result?

Authority: 2.00
Self-Sufficiency: 1.00
Superiority: 3.00
Exhibitionism: 0.00
Exploitativeness: 0.00
Vanity: 0.00
Entitlement: 2.00

Why? – I’m know what I’m good at, and I’m damn good at it. The rest is silly vanity. I could be better – that’s what I strive for. I’m well aware of the downfall of overconfidence. I am forever on my guard trying to improve.

If not – people die.

Other people?

SeventhSense's avatar

@DrMC
I’m about a 21–22. I don’t know what’s more disturbing. When you read about a condition to find out about a parent who has it only to find every word you read hits home and then you find it’s incurable. But I have empathy so I can’t be that bad.
You’re not on my list…yet..
‹(•¿•)›

DrMC's avatar

@SeventhSense I think I’m getting fond of your homicidal ways.

An ounce of insight is worth a pound of straight jacket.

So sayeth me.

SeventhSense's avatar

We’re all fucked up. Some of us can just admit it.
Maybe if I can get down to a 17–18 I’ll just be your average celebrity.:)

DrMC's avatar

@SeventhSense my score is impaired by my age, I used to be more vain.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well we can always fudge anything.

DrMC's avatar

@SeventhSense bah, fudge and fried rice is the problem. I need to go on a diet

Jennarae919's avatar

To get over social phobia do the things that scare you. If you are avoiding a situation because you are worried about the outcome or how you will talk to people, don’t avoid that. Avoidance leads to anxiety and wondering if something is “wrong” with you. Take baby steps and confront your fears about being around people. You can even intentionally make an ass of yourself.. say something dumb or be awkward. That’s how you find out there is nothing to be afraid of.

It is really how you condition yourself. If you force yourself to be around people, eventually you will become more comfortable. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing your own thing though. Some people get energy from being around people and some people are born loners. Being asocial only becomes a problem if you think of it as a problem. It depends on what you want for yourself. If you want to spend time alone doing things you enjoy, do that. But if there are times you are avoiding events you may enjoy because of fear of being social then you should confront them and go.

chamelopotamus's avatar

I just wish I could speak and be heard. I can wholeheartedly express my earnest need for recognition. I feel completely unrecognized so I choose to be by myself, where I can develop my thoughts, and find understanding. I choose that over being told someone else’s thoughts are the right ones. I feel unrecognized with friends and family. Most of the time it’s their stories and my insincere reactions. I would care more about silly facebook game they’re playing on the comptuer or what new CD they bought, if they paid attention to the concepts I realized were possible in my imagination, and the ideas I heard that I loved. But I am genuinely ignored and therefore genuinely disinterested. Fairly, when I fight through it, there are a few brief moments where I feel actually heard and felt, but they are completely bittersweet because they last but a moment, and then that person is right back to pushing their own views. But that’s if I’m lucky; most of the time my input is seen as an aside to whatever the other person’s message is. And they are talking about TV shows, compared to me who is talking about my actual experience of, and relationship to real life, not as an observer or outsider, but experiencer, and it’s deemed anectodal and unimportant, every time! I was with my pops today, and we were watching a documentary on the 60’s, and I can’t tell you how many times I felt validated by what the musicians were saying about the direction of the culture at the time, with the openness to alternatives and exploring new possibilities mentality. Sometimes I would speak up and say “I can relate to that, from experience, because I had a similar realization earlier today!, I was playing guitar, and I realized…”, and my pops would wait for me to finish and say “Yeah that’s true hold on a minute, let me rewind it, I missed what he just said, check it out, you’ll get what he’s saying”, and I would say “I already know I relate to it, because Im saying it now (one real human to another)”. The show was chock full of guitarists talking about how they feel about music, their relationship to finding new approaches, emulating what you love, absorbing various traits from different artists you love, combining different ideas, and discovering unexplored possibilities on your own personal creative path. I related to it hands down Resoundingly as a guitar player. I felt I was hearing my own thoughts, spoken in different ways by all these greats. Any given point I would make my pops would basically deem it an unnecessary overanalysis, where I would bring up a specific detail, and my pops would say “Yeah he’s a great guitar player”, and I would have to say “I know he’s great, but I’m saying something else entirely, something specific, a detail about his playing, did you hear what I said at all?”. And then the guitar player himself would go on after I pointed it out, to say essentially the same thing. So I’ve learned once again that it’s not important to hear me say it out loud.

- which is just a drawn out example of my overall battle to overcome in life lately: not being heard. Saying it, in plain english, and not being heard. The response is a different answer altogether than what I am actually specifically talking about. As long as I know it’s possible to be heard, I will keep battling through all the denials of my experience and try to keep talking about it.

Janka's avatar

That people do not respond in the way you expect they would or should does not necessarily mean they did not hear you. It might also mean that they respond in the way they think they should after having heard you.

By “that’s true, check it out, he is saying the same thing” does not necessarily mean he considered the TV person’s answer more relevant than yours, it could also be just an affirmation that you, him, and the person on TV all agree on this thing, none more important than the other, because it is a general human experience.

When people tell you their thoughts, they do not necessarily mean that they are the right ones, or wish to push them to you. They just want you to hear them, just as you want them to hear yours.

It sounds to me a bit that by “being heard” you actually mean that you want to be “recognized as special”?

chamelopotamus's avatar

I think feelings can be complicated, and can happen slowly over long periods of time. I do have that feeling of wanting my capacity to understand to be recognized by my pops, very subconsciously as proper validation that I have achieved adult intellect. Those thoughts are characteristic of the confines of only seeing through the eyes of emotion. Warping space and time around yourself to bend the light in your favor.

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