The media equates us with the mentally ill psychotics who go on murderous rampages. Society follows with resounding cries of: ”no friends, no fun! No friends no fun!” And we, the loners, feel an immense pressure to change ourselves. We want to hide our faces in shame, increasingly rejecting ourselves more and more, and our way of life. So what’s wrong with being a loner exactly?
1# THE ONLY PROBLEM WITH BEING A LONER IS WHETHER YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT.
In the end, you are the one who determines how you feel about yourself and other people. It’s true that nothing can hurt you unless you let it. Unfortunately, many loners have a problem with being loners. These involuntary loners have a problem with themselves firstly because they aren’t accustomed to being alone. For instance, they may have found that through death, estrangement, poverty, or other misfortunes, that they have lost friends or family. Consequently, these people may have fallen into depression and distanced themselves from others, becoming loners. They may have also failed to re-establish connections with people after the shock of their life situation. Secondly, many involuntary loners look for their self worth externally. When they observe the ideal of the “social butterfly” in all the magazines, Facebook walls, TV shows, books, movies and other media that floods their existence, they see how far they have fallen short. As a loner, I used to hate reading the blatherings of Facebook statuses, and how social everyone sounded. I felt depressed and perpetually like the outsider, the weirdo, and the lonely loner. This is the perfect example of how low self esteem can lead you to compare yourself with others. If you aren’t esteemed by other people, then immediately your own self esteem drops. Loners who fall into this category do not accept themselves because they aren’t accepted by others. And thirdly, involuntary loners may have previously found their joy and stimulation outside of themselves. They therefore find it hard to accept and adapt to their situation. Through one reason or another, these loners may find themselves alone and alienated from other people. Immediately they find that no friends = no fun, and they wilt and fade by themselves, feeling bored and lonely.
SO WHY ARE LONERS SO DISLIKED?
From school kids ostracizing us as being “weird losers”, to news columns condemning us as being serial rapists, loners have dealt with a lot over the past century. Take a close look at the following picture I took from searching the word “loner” a couple of months ago:
Notice how the word loner is constantly applied to tragic circumstances and the mentally unstable? As journalist Annelis Rufus points out in her Loner’s Manifesto, ”loner” is a word crime writers love to use. It is constantly applied to what she calls pseudo-loners who, because of rejection, seek revenge. ”They do not wish to be alone”, she writes, “their dislike of being alone is what drives them to violence.” Basically, these people rely on others and need others to validate their existence, to build reputations, and to be accepted into social clans. Not being accepted burns. Being cheated by people burns even more. What initiates the majority of violence, as pointed out by Rufus, is not being something – in this case a loner – but feeling something. ”Anger. Envy. Desire. Betrayal. Resentment. Rejection. Love”. All these emotions are intimately bound up with other people – they are social motives, far removed from the quiet, self-sufficient loner. However, to make things fair, loners are not exempt from committing crimes. In the cases where loners truly are responsible for horrible crimes, we must not lose sight of the many social, charmingly gregarious criminals there have been: Capone, Heinrich Himmler, Bernard Madoff, Don Lapre, Ted Bundy.
So why does the media favour the loner-lunatic cliche so much anyway? I can see two different reasons why. Firstly, people don’t like what they can’t understand. It’s very easy to understand the need for social interaction and friendship. It’s harder to understand why others like solitude however. Don’t you feel lonely? No. Don’t you feel depressed? No. Do you hate people? No. Then why are you by yourself? I like it that way. What?? If you’ve never tried fried ice cream you won’t like it. Similarly, if you haven’t experienced the clarity and wholeness found in solitude, you will lack an understanding of those people who do. This can easily result in rejecting others out of confusion and fear of what we can’t comprehend. Hence why loners are ostracized and consistently thought of negatively.
The second reason is that since loners are already thought negatively of, the word “loner” is perfect for crime cases which demand a certain air of negativity and mystery. Labeling killers continually as “loners” is the perfect psychological trick to separate the psychopaths from the ‘normal’ people. They like being alone? We don’t understand that! They must be crazy! Journalists like separating the murderous lunatics from the pack. No one wants to think that any normal citizen would commit such atrocious crimes. It’s a self denial and self defence, on that says “no one like me could do that”. So the loner is further ostracized, even to the point of losing their own humanity.
I have known, been friends with, and read the stories of many loners. Charity working loners, thumb-sucking loners, book-reading loners, all perfectly content in their quiet world – not hateful towards humanity, or vengeful, or disturbed. When you ask yourself what’s wrong with being a loner, keep in mind that the very people who make you ask that question are fundamentally ignorant, confused and many times afraid of the unknown world of loners. All it takes to understand something is to ask questions and go exploring. If this is not even attempted blind prejudice – like that towards loners, can easily occur.
In future articles I will explore the benefits of being a loner. If you have any opinions, feel free to add them to this discussion below.