Are we meant to be loners or part of a (virtual) tribe?

Recently it was suggested to me that we don’t need to live with others to be happy.

Really?

We live in a world full of communities and relationships. Even cave people lived in groups because they knew if they stayed together there was a greater chance they wouldn’t be mammoth chow. They didn’t give a crap about happiness, they just wanted to survive another day.

I’ve totally been there. Not hunting mammoths, but just hoping I’d survive the day. Unlike those cave dudes, we modern folks have ways of dealing with stress and usually it involves others.

Without people in our lives, we’d be all alone on the swing set with no one to push us and make us go higher. Like this lady. I don’t know if she likes being alone, or if she’s just protecting her swing, but she doesn’t look happy to me. She looks sad, as if she wants someone to come and give her a great big push. To feel the air rushing through her hair and see her feet high above her head, to believe if only for a moment that she can fly. Yeah, I think she’d like that.

Is being alone better?

Deep down, I think we all want a great big push so that we can feel like we can fly. We need to take turns pushing and swinging, to laugh out loud when we fall off the swing and then get right back on. Whether that’s in the ‘real world’ or online, it doesn’t matter.

Kristen Lamb wrote a book for writers called, We Are Not Alone. It’s an excellent guide to navigating social media and even if you aren’t a writer, I recommend it just for the easy to understand advice she gives. She talks a lot about helping each other, being a team. In her weekly blog tips she breaks down Social Media in ways that make sense – here’s a link, http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know until I found Kristen. She’s given me a ginormous push on the Social Media swing!

Which brings us back to happiness via others. I have friends on Facebook that are as dear to me as my friends who live down the street. I laugh at the silly videos they post and send cyber hugs when their news isn’t so sunny. Sure, Social Media is about networking and making connections, but it’s also about relationships. We have a need to reach out to people. You know the best part? We can do it at 2 A.M., in our jammies! Shhhh, no one needs to know.

They are in my tribe.

Happiness online.

What about you? Are you a loner or do you feel compelled to be a part of a community? Do you like Social Media and all of it’s quirks, or would you rather throw your computer out the window and say, ‘To hell with technology!’ (I’ve been there, I understand!)

Who’s in your tribe? I’d love to know!

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17 thoughts on “Are we meant to be loners or part of a (virtual) tribe?

  1. I like being part of a tribe. Most of the time. I belong to several tribes – the most current one the WANA711 tribe on twitter. I have family tribe, friends tribe, neighbors tribe, the MyWANA tribe on twitter, and the Elements chapter of RWA. Some overlap but most don’t. Being a part of something keeps me from feeling isolated.

  2. Hmmmm. I agree with your general thesis. But there are some people who have a great need for, and a tolerance for, long periods of solitude — the hermits among us. Like Richard Proenneke, who lived alone in a cabin in the Alaska wilderness for 30 plus years, except for brief visits from a bush pilot and a couple of visits to his family.

    Me, I want to give that lady on the swing a push.

    Nice post, Tameri.

    • I know Susan – I’ve often thought my husband could live alone as long as he had FedEX and high speed wireless. I just don’t understand that concept, being the social creature I am.

  3. Interesting thesis. I once heard that the definition of an introvert was not, as it has traditionally been described, a person who is shy and withdrawn. Although an introverted person may also have those characteristics. Instead, an introvert is apparently someone who draws energy from periods of solitude, while an extrovert draws energy from being with others. This was a freeing concept for me. I’m very social, love to laugh, and love to be with my friends. I’m ok with public speaking, used to sing solos, I’ll step up to what’s required. Yet I’ve always tested as an introvert. And now I get it. I need periods of solitude to replenish my energy. I love my friends, but while they give me love, laughter, belonging, all wonderful things, my energy comes from my alone time. I guess I’m greedy: I want both.

    Meanwhile, congratulations on the blog. It looks fabulous, and I look forward to reading more!

  4. I love social media. There have been times in my life where the only free time I had was when everyone else was already sleeping. Social media makes it possible to get a little bit of socializing even when we don’t have much time. I do crave being alone some days, but even then I check my email.

  5. I have several tribes: family tribe, work tribe, writing tribe (of which there are several sub-tribes), and Titans tribe. They are all great and I enjoy each. They provide support, people to bounce ideas off of, and companionship.

    I also enjoy time in solitude, mainly to think. I digest and reconstruct things during this time, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a quite place. I’m in a hotel lobby right now with about 15 people around me: but I’m alone.

    For me to be healthy I have to have both tribes and solitude. Too much (or too little) of either would drive me crazy.

    Great blog Tameri. Very thought provoking.

  6. I need more solitude than company. If I’m around people for too long, I get cranky. One of my good friends is the exact opposite–she has to be around people most of the time or she gets cranky. We make an interesting pair.

    I’m loving my Wana and Wana711 tribe. I talk to you guys more often than I do my “close friends.”

  7. I’m a total introvert, and it wasn’t until I stumbled upon Kristen’s blog workshop a couple of months ago that I really understood the power of social media.

    It’s so great knowing that when I’ve recharged and am ready to stick my head out of the hole that there is this great group of people who “get” me and support me.

    ~ Kate

  8. It seems as writers we share a common need. To be alone and gather our energy back. For me, I love, love, love reaching out, helping, encouraging, lifting up. It energizes me, but after doing this for days on end, I slam on the brakes and close up, hiding within myself – kind of like a turtle going into its shell. There I rest, reflect, and just hang out with me – until I have the need and the desire to get back out there and dance with everyone else. Then the cycle starts all over.

    I have had the best couple of months getting into Twitter and FB and Kristen’s workshop. I love wana711 and know I’ll always be able to lean on my twibe for a long time to come!

  9. I think we all have different social needs. My hubby requires much less than I do; he can actually find too much social stimulation exhausting because he’s more of an introvert. Like Naomi said, he draws his energy from periods of solitude. He was actually thinking of canceling his facebook account because he often finds it too draining.

    Me….I thrive on it. It’s almost a little high for me. My energy and joie de vivre instantly lifts the more social I am. It feeds me and lifts me up.

    I love social media because it allows me to balance my need for an action packed, ultra social life with my hubby’s need for more down time. I can be social throughout the day using social media and come home ready for quiet time with hubby. It’s fantastic – a true balance for us.

    I think the key is knowing what feeds your own soul and finding ways to make that happen. Great post – loved it!

  10. I love being alone. As Naomi said above, I can enjoy being with friends and being social, but doing so drains me completely. I can’t function long in that mode without a lot of alone-time to replenish. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I got away from teaching because constantly being with people – in the end – makes me feel lifeless.

  11. When I was home schooling, working and taking care of a house hold I really thought life all by myself sounded ideal. Now I’m living the dream on a sailboat and can and do spend days isolated, which can be rejuvenating, but then, I just need to be with people. I really like my virtual community as well. I couldn’t do what I do isolated all the time and happiness would be elusive.

  12. Naomi – I’ve never heard of an introvert described that way, but it makes total sense.

    It’s so interesting to me that we all need that alone time to replenish (some more than others), and we’ve found a way to be social within our own boundaries.

    My husband is just the same, he doesn’t like fb much because it’s too social. He’s a programmer and we’ve often joked that his only mistress is his computer. I think he understands it better than he does me and I’m okay with that.

    Nancy, your life sounds so serene. I could never imagine living on a boat, but then I never imagined I’d be on Twitter either. Anything is possible.

    Thanks for the great comments everyone. I love our WANA group and feel like I know all of you better from your posts and comments here.

  13. Kristen is a well of writerly wisdom!

    I love that you gave a vivid picture how our relationships should help us soar. We were created for community, and I remind myself often that life is not all about me.

    Beautiful!

  14. Great post! And welcome to the blog world 😀

    I have times when I love being surrounded by people. I love to talk and I love to laugh. I love to be surrounded by my family.Then there are times when I like to be alone (usually when I am working). I definitely have people around me more often than not.

  15. Love your header!

    I think humans are social animals though I do like having time to myself. I’m very happy with my own company, which at times borders on hermitry…is that a word?

    I remember last summer when we had houseguests for a couple of weeks. While I was very happy to see them, after three days, I was ready to see them go! 🙂 I craved my privacy.

    It’s taking me some time to read through all the #wana711 posts!)
    Cheers!
    Jen

  16. You pose interesting fundamental questions. Most people consider me sociable and aproachable and I am but I have a loaner side. I am happy to spend time with people but I am fairly selective about who comes past my driveway and I am not too quick to enter other people’s personal space.

    I have never needed large crowds to be happy. I avoid crowded theaters and noisy resteraunts. The feed lot environment of “fast food” venues is beyond my willingnes to tolerate random strangers. waiting in line to eat gortesquely mutilated oraginc matter while listening to blaring alarms and screaming zombie managers is more abuse than I willing to tolerate.

    I have no desire to participate in twiter, Face Book, or My Space. I already have my space and I don’t care to have the world population
    rumiging through it. I had considered founding a competing social network platform by the name of “assbook” but my lawyer informed me that the name was already taken by some porn. business. Oh well, you snooze you lose.

    I recently got rid of my land line because the only calls we got were from political campaigners and criminals pretending to be calling from my credit card company. My friends and business associates have my cell number and they know that I don’t feal a need to be available 24/7. I’m not going to cut my shower short to answer my cell phone.

    My lawyer, editor, writing partner, close friend Piper Bayard has slowly come to accept that I don’t consider every text message cause for imedeate response. My wife has ESP and always knows what I am thinking and expects me to do the same so we don’t need to call each other much. My kids are hoping I won’t interupt them with a call.

    I guess you could say that I am not a prime candidate for social media.

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