Another brilliant article from Kat Rosenfield.
Coronaphobes provide great comic entertainment, as do so many of the humourless… piss posts extraordinaire!! … I love ’em!
An excellent addition to the Oxford English Dictionary.
I have another that describes 99 pc of nu britn, who refuse to make or take decisions, as their only aim in life is to keep their job…. ” Procrasturbators”….
Nicky. It would be a bit helpful if we could understand your posts! What or who the hell is ‘nu britn’? I’m a pretty regular reader and poster on UnHerd but I haven’t heard the term before. It doesn’t make any sort of case to rely on clever-sounding neologisms that you have coined but no one else knows!
It is good, isn’t it!
I remember David Davies chanting ‘Better Together’ when negotiating Brexit, is this what is meant?
Why no mention of sex because without it there would eventually be no one around to discuss this subject or any other, or is self impregnation with a syringe the new way to go (no personal interaction and only yourself to blame if you do / don’t get pregnant)?
I suppose we could rely on artificial insemination and the post….
An interesting take on the aftermath of covid-induced social isolation, but as someone who needs a fair amount of time alone i’m not sure how pathologising a perfectly normal human trait helps those of us with similar tendencies. I don’t think that’s Kat’s intention btw, just what she describes in the article.
The fact is, i also love socialising, both one to one and also e.g. in a crowded pub or sports event – when i choose to do so. The key here is choice. Kat uses the example of children being encroached upon by adults. It’s fair to say that when adult relatives came to visit at Christmas, as a child i’d go and hide in my room! As an adult doing the visiting now, it makes me hyper-aware of how to interact in a responsible but friendly way with the children of friends and family, especially with a grandchild on the way.
I’ve no problem with those who need constant social interaction, they help make the world go round, but much of the creative activity of our civilisation requires solitude. We should simply live and let live.
“We should simply live and let live” Lol, funny in this day and age
This seems to be a predominately American phenomenon, particularly the exaggerated kissing incident described in the article. When I lived in Europe I had many female friends, but now living in the States, I am far more guarded against women and make sure that I am never alone with one, especially in any kind of professional setting. I think the main difference here is that if you fundamentally disagree with a woman on any issue you are perceived as ‘dangerous’. I tend to see this attitude predominantly among educated white women.
Sorry for the generalizations, I know there are exceptions.
I don’t think Rosenfield quite pathologizes introverts themselves, as she is careful to distinguish them from misanthropes. She openly belongs to the in-person socializing set and directs some teasing mockery–not vilification or medicalized-labelling–at those of a solitary disposition.
Yet a human society that leans this heavily upon ‘connected isolation’ along with other types of comfortable reclusiveness is one that has become pathological, or at least greatly destabilized. Would you disagree? Greater acceptance of the less social among us seems like a wholesome development; to suggest that physical-realm sociability is some outmoded relic, or itself a pathology, does not. Not that 2019 was a convivial wonderland, but look where we are now (!).
As someone given to solitude, sometimes of a creative kind, the pandemic era has reminded me that I’m not quite as solitude-loving as I’d imagined when face-to-face, IRL interaction was harder to avoid. For most of us, robust or regular in-person social participation provides a net benefit, for ourselves and to others we don’t offend too much.
Those for whom that’s not true are not therefore ‘freaks’ or whatever insult-of-a-label, but they can’t make much of a society on their own either. No isolated slice nor hacked off slab of the human personality pie (better metaphor pending) can do.
There is definitely a cultural spin to this. I grew up a WASP in the Midwest, where my mother’s family were unabashed huggers, and my father’s were hands off and somewhat reserved. I can count on NO hands the number of times that MY father hugged me or my brother.
However, I have since married a brasileira and moved to Southern Brazil where every gathering of my wife’s large and extended family (including during Covid-19) starts off with those most recently arrived hugging and kissing EACH ONE of those who are already there, and those already there expecting it (and reaching out for it). Older men often throw in a peck on the neck of younger men.
Partly this is because Brazil has so far only mildly been infected with the hyper-identity madness (rights-based assertions of “oppression”), including the me-too movement, but partly the culture.
So Americans (in general) are generally less tactile than Southern Europeans (eg, Portuguese) , but also Americans have gone nuts with all the legal strictures now threatening intimacy itself. We’ll have to see, but it would take a major cultural earthquake to make these Brazilians become as weird as my American heritage seems to be getting.
This article resonates with me strongly.
It is fair to say that, if you consider there to be a continuum between introversion and extraversion, I would be on the introverted side.
So the very idea of a world with minimised social interaction would have once seemed like heaven.
Now that it has become a reality, it just feels lonely.
Probably the main disappointment is that, more and more, everyone else seems to be insulated in their own online bubbles all day, regardless of whether they are at home, at the office, or socialising. This applies to both the extraverted and the introverted among us (and sure, maybe I am like that sometimes).
It means that there are less ‘chance’ interactions in the real world.
Maybe getting beside the point of the article as well, but I can’t be the only person who has noticed that other people seem to be behaving, mostly unwittingly, in an anti-social way in public (folks with their phone on speaker on public transport being a low level but annoyingly prevalent example).
Maybe the combination of the pandemic and the digitisation of everything has meant that people have forgotten how to get along with each other in real life.
thought provoking article. We are all on a continuum of extrovert and introvert, and I’m somewhere in the middle myself. But living online is like a diet of oatmeal – you may not starve but you will be malnourished and unsatisfied (even if you don’t realize it).
I agree and personally connect with your comment. We weren’t exactly getting along with one another all that well in the so-called Before Times, whether in 2017, 1957, or 1917, etc. But the solitary road was once much harder and more life-threatening to walk than it is today.
Convenience or physical ease doesn’t equate to any kind of contentment. We learn to coexist in a more mindful and sociable way through regular practice. Most of us struggle to be considerate and kind versions of ourselves under any circumstances (I’ll certainly admit that myself) and we’re not good at just turning on our hearts and best faces when finally ‘forced’ to be around others in a less-controlled or unmediated environment.
I appreciate the prevailing thoughtfulness and consideration found on many UnHerd comments pages. A general appeal: Please don’t cast all your pearls into the ether, whether you intend them for swine or sages. I’m going for an overdue walk.
Some good observations made but I would say all examples reflect a culture of safety first, aggrandised self-importance, the decades-long stealth rise of the notion of rights over responsibilities and, as Kat indeed suggests at one point, a growing estrangement from what it means to be human – faults and all. All socially engineered with the cultivation and amalgamation of structuralism, post-structuralism, new technology and globalism.
Also, introvert neither equals misanthrope nor a wish to be coddled and safe. More prescient, it reflects a bias towards independence and self-agency. I would not say introverts have triumphed, nor would they wish to do so.
Very good point on the definition of introversion. As one myself, I highly value self-reliance and try to avoid dependency on others as much as I can, but that does not mean I do not value human contact at all. I just believe that what matter most are the high quality forms of human contact that come from close friends and family, whose relationships are built up over years.
I would just say that spontaneous affection from grandchildren is so much more meaningful than if they are asked by parents to give grandma a hug. That said, covid restrictions have had an impact on spontaneity for sure. And you can’t really fault kids because they’ve often been told that they can make grandma sick and they don’t want to do that.
Sing it with me:
A kiss on the cheek without explicit prior consent is assault, actually,
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend…
Excellent! There are two or three people who insist on puckering up and proffering a cheek when I have to meet them. I no longer need to respond and can simply accuse them of harassment.
It’s as if Ms. Rosenfield walks into a room of Woke with a flame thrower and turns their pathetic little positions and sad, weak sensibilities to ash.
When can we all just be practical, real, flawed, decent people again.
Bravo zulu! Excellent article.
I didn’t realise that the article was a manoeuvre.
Enjoyed this article so much have just ordered your book.
“have you ever canceled your plans and stayed home on a Saturday night wearing fluffy socks?”
Other than the fluffy socks, absolutely yes. Frequently.
This wonderful blog post sums up why, even before I got married, I was sick to my back teeth of the going out charade – the awful, grinding, shallow, tedium of it – this blog is worth a read:
We’ve gotten to the point where – to put on our pants, go into work with other people, to hug – is just too much.. effort. Our covid malaise is now, ironically, embraced by many. Has isolation changed our epigenetics?
Perhaps we need to put together a roving army with “free hugs” signs hanging around their necks. Consent and contact all in one social movement.
Perhaps an overarching point here we could reflect on is that human beings are fundamentally social animals, whose evolution and dominance on Earth has almost entirely relied on this. All historical and anthropological study backs this up, if for some reason we needed to be convinced of this rather obvious fact. And family (wider and narrower) is always of specific importance, with obligations attached.
Being social beings doesn’t mean that every individual in that society (which will also have a hierarchy) will always like every single interaction asked or demanded of them, any more than that private soldier actually wants to do that patrol at 3 am, or kids always want to go to school or to learn how to hunt deer, or whatever. However, what we all individually might prefer at every point of time cannot always be granted in any society of more than, er.., one person! This is not some sort of minor opt-in /opt-out characteristic.
So this latest ludicrous victimhood cause pathologises behaviour such as the hen-peck without (written?!) consent, which would be held entirely commonplace, and in fact socially, if not legally, obligatory, in almost every human society that has ever existed! Except it seems, the increasingly chilly and fundamentally anti-human ‘woke’ one now, disastrously, emerging in the modern West (but of course ONLY in the West). And actually extreme libertarians get this wrong as well; 99.99% of human beings can’t opt out to a remote log cabin in Montana equipped with a hunting rifle.
I agree with most of what Kat says. However, I wish she hadn’t included the Junot Diaz stuff. I went back and looked at some of the links she added and while I can agree that his behavior was fairly benign if limited to the sphere of ‘sexual assault’, it reads like he could be quite an a$%^ole at times. No man has the right to be out there fishing for a sexual encounters by kissing away at random. That’s creepy. He should be able to tell that there is no chemistry. His inability to pick up on a lack of chemistry doesn’t give him a pass. Especially if the women are involved with him in some subordinate way such as teacher/student or mentor/mentee, etc. It really did not belong in there with the grandma stuff. Totally different issues. I’m surprised she included it.
This is a long, meandering article which argues that our (imposed) behaviour during Covid has made us more introverted. Well, OK, is that such a bad thing? Does introverted=bad?
I have another story. I was brought up as an only child with almost no other family. We didn’t have visitors, except one aunt at Christmas. We didn’t touch and we certainly didn’t hug. Much later I got married and my new wife’s family was huge. Every time there was a visit, we had the hugging scenes at the end. Guess what -I didn’t like it. I still don’t like it.
I don’t see the point in hugging someone you only saw yesterday or the day before. It is just a habit, with no meaning. In fact, it takes away meaning because if you see someone you haven’t seen for ten years, then you hug and it really means something.
By the way, even my wife’s family would not go and kiss a relative stranger on the cheek. That is disgusting.
Someone told me they always hug family members on departing because they can never be sure they’ll see them again,
For some reason, I clicked upward but the number went down. For the record, therefore, I agree with you and can’t figure out why seventeen other people think that you wrote something horrible.
Sometimes the counter is a bit slow – why not try ‘clicking’ your correct choice. Some newsgroups allow you to change your mind/correct a slip-up.[on Edit] I’ve just tried it on Chris W’s article. You can change you mind on Unherd.
Agreed. He’s clearly been assailed by a bunch of hugnazis.
You aren’t alone. I too struggle with social norms. Don’t get me started on why we must send Christmas cards to family I haven’t seen in over a decade.
That’s all well and good – for you. But clearly your wife’s family enjoys it. When in Rome? I know there are people who don’t like to be touched including people on the spectrum, however it’s interesting that “pressure” (i.e. a weighted blanket, or Temple Grandin’s Squeeze Machine) help to relieves stress and anxiety for many who don’t like to be “touched”. I’ve met some great huggers in my day – the perfect squeeze, the perfect length of time, and it is indeed comforting. In your case it sounds like a combination of “nature” and “nurture”. Perhaps changing your certainty that frequency takes away meaning, and consider that each hug, each human contact, is important for the love, companionship and comfort it can convey. Or you could just extend your hand.
Respect and acceptance–or the lack thereof–run in both directions. Kissing an acquaintance on the cheek may disgust you, but it is not factually, objectively disgusting. As someone with mostly Celtic and middle-American roots, I find routine ‘touchy-feely-ness’ uncomfortable myself, but would resist calling it wrong or disgusting based on my conditioning or feelings.
Most people need a measure of physical human contact and, for them, an even more fractured and isolated society is indeed ‘a bad thing’ if they’re not able to find the level of socializing and touch that suits them as individuals. They could be extroverts being made to live like introverts, for not every social animal has great power to win friends and influence people, especially in an ever-more-solitary culture. A contented loner who feels forced to gladhand and gab it up it left and right will also suffer. It needn’t become a moral issue–from either direction.
Has our heightened emphasis on personal liberty made us even more moralistic? Have we substituted widespread blind faith for widespread inability to believe in anything outside our own heads? If so, I doubt that’s what John Stuart Mill had in mind.