What inspired me to write this post was watching the first episode of Channel 5’s In Solitary: An Anti-Social Experiment. This experiment took place in four small, caravan-sized, separate rooms for each willing participant. Each volunteer would be stripped of their phones, locked in a room for five days without any contact with the outer world – utterly alone.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I kind of laughed at the idea of this experiment! Five days alone with no phone and no contact with friends or family, how hard could that be? It seems that some of the participants felt the same, making a joke out of the situation and believing that it would be a stroll in the park. However, in only four hours – one of the volunteers pushed the big red button, and left. I’m sure a lot of viewers would find her leaving so early pretty entertaining, but think about having no phone, no sound of cars or voices by your window, and not being able to see one person, or even one animal. I imagine that slowly it would drive you insane, especially after spending all of your life surrounded by these things constantly.
So what I’ve come to write about is human nature, and the question of whether we have become reliant on constant communication and contact with other beings, or if we just don’t spend enough time in our own company.
Here’s a question:
So, you wake up in the morning. What’s the first thing that you do?
A) Look at your phone and go on social media to see what other people are doing
B) Reply to messages that you missed out on from the night before
C) Turn over to nuzzle your head into your loved one
D) Go downstairs to see if your family or friends that you live with are awake too
I could bet all of the money in my bank account (albeit, not much) on the fact that each one of you reading this will pick at least one of the five options. Each option revolves around communication or contact with another person. I can only assume that if I changed the question to going to bed at night, and adapted the options to the question, they would still all be picked.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see friends, family, or significant others. There’s nothing wrong in going out and sitting at a cafe, and just watching the world go by. After all, plenty of psychologists have agreed that as humans we are pack animals. Essentially, we’re just better-looking, more advanced gorillas.
But have you ever thought about how you would react if you woke up one day, and your phone, and your human contact had totally disappeared? Obviously, you’d initially be shocked and scared. However, after those feelings, would you be able to adapt to just a couple of hours, a couple of days, completely by yourself?
I can put my hand on my heart and easily say, no. Not in the technological world that I live in, not in the world where constant contact is almost wholly essential. And I find that quite worrisome. Going back to Channel 5’s experiment, participants were seen to show signs of anxiety and fear within only the first few hours so imagine how days would impact them even more. Then try and relate that back to yourself and how you would feel. After all, how can you learn more about yourself if you’re constantly surrounded by others?
So maybe it’s time to question whether it’s healthy to be so reliant on the people around us and the technology we have, or whether it would be good to shut ourselves off from all of that for only a couple of hours a week.
After only watching one episode, it struck me into the reality that this world is in desperate need of people who feel comfortable in being alone – everybody and everything is temporary except for oneself, so maybe it would be good to have the ability to feel at least OK with being alone every once in a while.