In a culture obsessed with social media and digital connection, the individual’s ability for solitude has been greatly affected. Technology has developed to the point where we can remain connected with one another at almost all times, meaning we never have to be alone. Ironically, by always being “connected” we limit our ability for solitude, which leaves us feeling lonelier than ever when we do find ourselves unplugged from the virtual world. We no longer know how to be alone.
Solitude is an important aspect of understanding our truest selves. With little time to respond to text messages, emails, Facebook messages, and more, it’s no wonder that there is little time to ponder life’s deeper questions essential to a healthy relationship to the self, like who we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going, what do we fear, what are our ambitions, and so much more. By looking to Henry David Thoreau’s story of solitude in his 1854 novel Walden as a guide for my own present-day experience of solitude, this essay reflects on my own ability for solitude in a society consumed by social media.