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Society as Voluntary (And as Not) -- Understanding Better Our Need to Socialize

Updated: Jun 8

A beautiful road.

A Place Without Question

Our presence in society, AKA, in the company of other people than ourselves, come from many reasons, some of which are more rational than otherwise, and some are done by desire. Others are either involuntary or forced.

Our initial presence in society is most often not, forced by external entities, far stronger than us at the time, such as family and government. As babies and as small children, we are not asked, whether or not we wish to spend time with others. We were weak, can't communicate like adults, and the law demands that, regardless, we must spend time at kindergarten, and later on, at school.

And even without public education, we either "belong" to our family or to an orphanage. We do not have authority on our lives and in some cases we can't even work due to child labor laws. Our place in the world is forced and goes on without question, until we become work-capable adults. And it is only through our ability to make money, where we can determine our mobility in this world, social or otherwise.

Rethinking Our Need for Social Interaction

Public education often plays a subtle role in shaping our perception of social interaction. Schools, with their emphasis on group activities, shared schedules, and collaboration, might unintentionally create the illusion that social engagement is an inherent human desire, a mandatory part of life, just like passing exams. This, however, overlooks the crucial distinction between forced interaction and genuine connection.

The idea that all humans are inherently social creatures is a broad generalization. Unlike the undeniable need for water, a need we instinctively fulfill from birth, socializing is more akin to a learned skill that requires practice and maintenance. Neglect this "muscle," and social interaction can become challenging or even undesirable.

Those who need to get things done, may not socialize because they want to, but rather relunctantly, as there are some things one can't do alone. Additionally, we may force ourselves to socialize just to get help in whatever we're doing, thus saving ourseles energies by sharing the burden of the task.

It does not mean, however, that we do it out of a genuine desire for human interaction, nor because we necessarily derive joy from interacting. It's just that the strength of many is preferrable over the strength of one. The more people join our cause, the more sources of energy we can use for our combined efforts, towards a shared goal.

But if we had the energies of an entire team or several teams, would there be a need to bother with forming organizations, if doing things alone would've been just as easy?

Therefore, declaring every human a "social animal" might be both an oversimplification and a fallacy. Unlike our dependence on water for survival, the need for social interaction isn't universally intuitive. Like a society's forced dependency on its next generations, we are forced to use the help of others whether we like it or not, when it comes to large-scale operation/s.

Choosing a solitary path, as I have, can lead to a diminishing desire for social interaction. A life accustomed to solitude reframes others as less of a necessity and more of a choice. And even then, the benefits of colllaborations do not ask me whether I am interested in them or not. Logic doesn't ask for your permission, and all necessities stem from conditionality (AKA "A" needs "X" to become "B").

The notion that solitude inherently leads to sadness might hold true for those suffering from loneliness, which might or can affect us all universally. However, it's important to distinguish between voluntary solitude and isolation. Studies linking solitude to depression often fail to consider the aspect of choosing to be alone.

Critical thinking requires acknowledging biases towards concepts we hold dear or disdain. In other words, we must recognize both the positive and negative aspects of things. Most things, like social interaction itself, aren't perfect and possess both redeeming qualities and drawbacks. Unnecessary drama, for example, is but one of many ways a voluntary social interaction can deteriorate, along with the use of coercion and other depraved acts, initally unintended by either side. Also, certain people are more prone to social fatigue than others.

This shows us that social interaction, while necessary for our mental surival, could also diminish it, leading to the exact opposite in results. The opposite result is further highlighted when interacting with certain people, like narcissists and their agents. Instead of benefitting you, they would actively leech on your energies and even force you to do things, thus decreasing your psychological safety as well.

Therefore, the idea that all humans crave constant companionship, and even pleasant company, falls short when considering the dominant element of force in society.

School attendance exemplifies this. Just like attending classes doesn't guarantee a desire for the company of classmates, initial social interaction can be involuntary, and either serve our interests or someone else. This forced or self-forced interaction might lead, through sheer repetition, to the belief that social connection is an inherent human need. It's like repeating something over and over until it's accepted as true.

But in reality, each individual's need for it exists on a spectrum. Many traits are like that, and not a matter of dichotomy, but of intensity. Hence why ambiverts, for example, exist.

The Spectrum of Social Needs

The fear of being alone, often termed autophobia, grips many individuals even in the absence of any real danger. While some fears are rooted in logic, the aversion to solitude often remains shrouded in mystery. What is there to truly fear in enjoying one's own company? Solitude, itself, isn't inherently dangerous, although it can be for those struggling with unresolved issues that surface when they're alone. And also for those who use social interactions as a means to escape.

My personal experience exemplifies the spectrum of social needs. While I contribute to society through writing, the desire for companionship isn't a constant. Despite my years-long skin deprivation, I manage on my own quite well, for I have a purpose in mind to keep myself busy.

When the need for social interaction arises, I engage with others. When I need help, I ask for it. Otherwise, I choose to work on Philosocom in solitude, as a means to solve an otherwise-problematic existence. This selective approach demonstrates that social interaction isn't a universal human necessity, but rather a variable desire. Perhaps the education system simply wasn't as persuasive in my case.

Interestingly, even the most deeply connected individuals, like couples in love, crave and/or need moments of solitude. And for some, like myself, romantic love itself holds a secondary appeal to my work on this site. The fantasy of a solitary life, akin to a hermit's existence, likely flickers across many minds at some point. I mainly broke free from that fantasy because I stopped denying my potential.

In conclusion, embracing solitude shouldn't be viewed as a social failing or a consequence of a flawed education system. Just as some crave constant connection, others find peace and fulfillment in a life less social. Others simply need to colleborate to get things done, whether or not they like it.

Recognizing this spectrum of human needs allows us to be aware the diverse ways we navigate the world, alone or in company. No one way is necessarily worse than the other, and it depends on how interacting with the world effects our mental energies.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

I believe they are missing one vital part in the education system. I never was taught how to socialize with other people. It was something that adults seemed to think children would learn on their own. Social studies are more the study of history than anything to do with socializing. Put it in terms of your own cognitive reality. We aren’t taught how to interact with other [cognitve] realities.
I believe it is important to determine your personality type and figure out a way to interact with the world. This can be done by finding yourself a pack of your own. Those close enough that they can help us out on how to better interact with other people. I believe most of the problems in the world are people being unaware that their reality is different and not everyone sees things the same way that they do.
I use social skills for selfish reasons at first. I would intentionally help other people out so they would feel obligated to return the favor. I mean generally speaking people are willing to help out those who help them out.
People generally like to help people who they like. If me being a nice person helps them like me more then I am all for helping out when asked. Point being I learned the social aspect of determining the type of person you are. I became a nice person by doing nice actions. This is something anyone can learn to do. Not to mention people will instinctively be drawn towards them then. 
Socializing is just one expression of intelligence. Why would we not want to work on that part. If individual parts determine the whole then wouldn’t you want each part to be as strong as possible. It only leads to increases in your human capital. There is no secret to life that requires a lifelong quest to figure out. The point of life is to make yourself as best a human as you can be.
Do everything your best and you will see the type of person you are. This includes a need for socializing also as knowing stuff is pointless unless you know how to communicate your knowledge to other people. 
You determine your intelligence by understanding your ability to understand things. That is all higher intelligence is.
Why the idea of war confuses me. Your country is your asset so how is destroying it good for anyone? War is just proof of how poor mankind is at socializing. 
I realize now that socializing is nothing more than a skill. As you will interact with humans for the rest of your life shouldn’t it be the most important thing we should learn growing up? It is expected that enough people, children, going through the same thing, school, will result in them acquiring the social skills they need.
Socializing is only a skill that people should learn to learn better.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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