Bobbing for Kernels

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Here Comes Solitude

Posted by kernelbob on September 6, 2009

Last month, I read Clay Shirky‘s excellent book, Here Comes Everybody. Shirky’s a smart guy, and I’ve learned something every time I’ve read him. Strongly recommended.

The book’s theme is how the Internet is driving the cost for groups to self-organize to zero, and how that is reshaping our culture. We’re living through it every day, but Shirky looks at it as a big picture.

Anyway, near the beginning of the book, page 14, Shirky wrote,

Human beings are social creatures — not occasionally or by accident but always. Sociability is one of our core capabilities, and it shows up in almost every aspect of our lives as both cause and effect.

As Mr. McMahon, RIP, always said, “I did not know that.” Never thought about it. After reading a bit more, I decided to join Facebook and see for myself. It’s true. People are on there talking to each other all over the place. So I’ve been trying to join the conversation. It’s clumsy, like learning to dance.


Anne and I spent three weeks this summer in Europe. The first twelve days we toured with the Eugene Concert Choir, and the last week we were on our own. The choir tour was nonstop. From breakfast through bedtime, we were in a jabbering crowd. I found that very tiring. I needed downtime. A lot.

So we got home. And I found myself staying home as much as possible. I can work from home as long as I don’t need a lot of ‘Net bandwidth, so I did. And the more time I spent by myself (or with Riley), the more contented I got. Now I’m pretty back to normal, but still not in a big hurry to get out.

But the lessons are twofold: 1. People are innately social. 2. I crave solitude. I think most people don’t need it nearly as much as I do.


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