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THE SOLITUDE ISSUE

 

 
Dear Outsiders,

What does your alone time look like? How often do you have it and is it important to you?

No, we don't mean in a lonely cabin!

Read on to see how 'solitude' is being redefined.

– Jess


Outsider 142

WHAT'S YOUR SOLITUDE?

 

How To Redefine Your Aloneness


 
 

When you read the word solitude what do you think of?

Being tucked away in a remote cabin? Going somewhere near a body of water all on your lonesome? Or, do you think of wandering an unfamiliar suburb without your headphones in? Going to your window and staring out, getting lost in your own thoughts?

Solitude is a vital element of our lives, and an uncompromisable part of the creative process. It allows for thoughts and ideas to emerge in ways we might miss if we were immersed in input.

It gives the space and sets the conditions for deep contemplation to arise. When we say 'away from inputs' we mean anything from listening to music to reading articles online.



SOLITUDE REDEFINED

There is a common misconception that to be in solitude means physical isolation from other people. This is not true, and a potentially dangerous way of thinking about it as it only promotes individual isolation, which is not the point. Solitude is not about the physical environment around us, it's about what's going on in our minds.

 





SOLITUDE IS A MIND
FREE FROM THE INPUT
OF OTHER MINDS







 

Free from the input of media, stimulation, conversation and distraction.

Put simply, solitude is the importance of being alone with your thoughts. It does not equal physical separation. Solitude can be found in a crowded train as much as it can in a wooden hut on a hill, as long as your mind is left to swim with its own thoughts.


WHERE DID THIS BEGIN?

We are so used to non-solitary situations that it's hard to notice that we are in them majority of the time.

For us, it all started with the iPod*. The invention of the iPod offered a constant stream of auditory entertainment like we had never seen before. Its predecessors, the Walkman and Discman, had been too awkward to listen to at the bus stop or on a commute – they stayed in the realm of physical activity or maybe the backseat of a long road trip.

That was the 90's. By the early 2000's, the bus stop was lined with white-earphoned riders who could move from A to B in a guise of recreational alone time. Avoiding human interaction if they pleased.
 

 
* Let's remember that the compromise of solitude by modernity is not new.

In the 80's people noted the car telephone was inviting a new distractor into a space previously vacant for time spent in thought. What we are addressing here is the disappearance of solitude experienced in our lifetime, one that is more pressing than those that have gone before.



With the iPod we now had a means to listen to music 24/7 - a constant stream that changed the culture of listening on the go. Earphones in as you walked out the front door took over from devoted listening sessions at home. It's important to note this was the first time our solitude went beyond being momentarily interrupted – now we had continuous distraction from our own mind.



FROM IPOD TO IPHONE


The iPod may have kicked off our new experience of non-stop input, but the arrival of the iPhone solidified it. Internet connection all day every day! It was now possible to eradicate the experience of solitude entirely from one's life (Hello attention economy!). It kind of snuck up on us, right?

 




INFORMATION FROM OTHER PEOPLE

IS NOT SOLITUDE.

 

FIND YOUR SOLITUDE

 


 


 




QUIET ALONE
 

Even in the most silent of moments, solitude can be compromised. It doesn't have to be another person; it can be the reading of a book, listening to a podcast, receiving any number of types of input that will rob your attention via a smartphone screen.

Are you deficient in alone time? The mental kind that keeps you fit and agile and energised. You know without it is how burnout happens, right?
 

 


 

Our time spent in solitude is starved, (it's not an overstatement to estimate that most people living in Western cultures have a solitude time that nears zero) and thus, everything suffers. Insight diminishes, we have no time to balance our emotions and we miss all the calmness that comes from reflection away from the rush. And that's before we even address creative output!

Do not underestimate this.

Do not ignore it.





 




 




Your solitude is
non-negotiable.





 


STRATEGIES

 


Defining Your Solitude


It was not so long ago that situations of solitude were unavoidable. Imagine that! We were forced to be alone with our thoughts, though gone are those days. Now we need to actively construct these situations for ourselves. It takes some preparation.

You want strategies? Here's a start.

 

   1. Unlearn Hyper-Connected Culture

It has been sold to us that being "alone" sucks and "the more connectivity, the better". Not true. Aren't we all bored of Zuckerberg spewing on about his "social mission – to make the world more open and connected". Yawn, we know you made a distraction machine.

Get familiar with the idea that more connectivity is not better than less. Adjust to the weight that reflection has over communication and prioritise it.






 

"all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”


- Blaise Pascal
Philosopher





 

   2. Make A Plan

We need to structure our solitude since it won't happen by mistake. Designate times of day and moments in the week to embark on solitudinous ventures.

 

   3. Walk Walk Walk

Taking walks is one of the highest quality forms of solitude. No music, no podcasts. Just you, a pen, and paper. (It helps to expand your idea of walkable weather too. Cold days, wet days, all can be enjoyably walkable.)

 

   4. Thinking By Writing

An exquisite mechanism to generate solitude. Deconstruct problems, organise thought, offer kindness to emotion, think expansively. Just as we are all creative, we are all writers. This may not be your usual go-to medium but when you visit it, the awaiting solitude will show you the way.

 

   5. Leave Your Phone At Home – Duh.

Perhaps obvious but not having your phone on you removes the risk of temptation. Plan evenings without it, make it a joint venture with friends and discuss meeting points and the fact you won't have phones, to reassure it will be okay. Even leaving the house with your phone buried in your bag can be a simple deterrent to the automatic use of it.

(The more you do this the more you'll find that feeling of urgency to have our phone on us all the time is overemphasised)

 

   6. Find Your Formula:
– Solitude & Companionship


Every person has their own ideal blend of these two. You will soon discover yours and own it. Start exploring! For every hour you spend with others, how many hours do you need alone?

 







EVERYONE'S SOLITUDE LOOKS DIFFERENT.

WHAT'S YOURS?






 



REWARD LIKE NEVER BEFORE SEEN

The rewards of solitude outweigh the effort required. Tenfold! At first boredom can be scary. So can that voice of guilt that torments our insides with panic of productivity.

Once we pound beyond that into becoming a proponent for solitude you will see your manner change, and this is your differentiation. You permeate a rare rhythm; an immensely enjoyable presence that has the unique combination of an air of wisdom, a quiet confidence, and an inimitable vision. A magnetism arrives around you.

You know what is coming next, total radiant creativity. Original thought and effervescent ideas.

To go offline provides you with the power to manifest all that lies within you and gets little chance to come forth when distracted or drowned by noise.
 
 







SOLITUDE RULES

ZOMBIE SCROLL DROOLS









 



Find your solitude, your unique mix and methods of getting out what lies within. We are not here to march mindlessly in a line. Be in control of what you are doing and refuse to conform to the social norms and default ways of life that the attention economy has laid upon us.

Stay alert and question what is going on; it is only with open eyes and critical minds that we can affect any change we hope to see. It is more urgent now than ever to deliberately make time for input-free solitude. The kind that lives alongside our automatic sociality.

Solitude is as key to human thriving as our interpersonal connections. It’s not one or the other – it’s both!

Until next time.
In solidarity,

– Jess
jh@outsider.works
 





 
 

company's okay,
solitude is bliss.


- Tame Impala


 




 
HOW SOLITUDE RELATES
TO ISOLATION

"You end up isolated if you don’t cultivate the capacity for solitude,
the ability to be separate, to gather yourself.

Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don’t have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive.

When this happens, we’re not able to appreciate who they are. It’s as though we’re using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self.”  


 
–    Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together

 
 


 

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
 
Outsider is a counter-culture punch from inside the creative industry.

Promoting real life interaction. Pro-offline.


It came into being after watching client after client come seeking 'relevance' with 'millennials' and crying inside. Seeing misconceptions on the efficacy of social media rise. 

Named Outsider as, like Outsider Art, we observed that no/informal training cultivates greater instinct and disregard for 'rules' and established systems.

    
Jess is a pseudonym to keep the digital footprint of our real identity to zero.

Born 1991 but knowing better than old man CEO's.

Secret Access to past issues here.



 
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