Friday, March 16, 2012

Hell Is Other People

I have no job. I have no friends. I don't talk to my siblings. My relationship with my parents consists of a weekly 20 minute phone call. I have an Ivy League education, but, at best, it's useless because I actually learned very little while I was in college, having spent the whole time in an insomnia-induced stupor. At worst, it makes it so that I inevitably disenchant whenever I open my mouth and don't sound like a genius.

This is all terrible, horrible, and no good. But the worst part, the truly unmentionable part that I'm gonna go ahead and mention anyway because it's about time someone not officially crazy admitted to it, is that, actually, it's not so bad. As a matter of fact, this is actually my ideal life, which is probably why I have it. I'm relatively intelligent and socially adept. It's not for lack of ability that I have no professional or social life. It's for lack of desire - lack of desire to in anyway interact with other people.

For me, there are very few mundane activities more torturous than having to talk to another person. I have ridden my bike through the rain to avoid a one-on-one conversation during a car-ride home with a classmate. I have gone hungry to avoid chit-chat at the check-out of my corner store. I have lived on less than $13K a year for a decade to avoid the social demands of working.

Yes, I recognize how absurd this all is. Most people would choose a little socializing over exposure to the elements, hunger, and poverty any day. But I agree with Sartre. He said, "Hell is other people." I have actually felt suicidal at the thought of having to deal with people for the rest of my life. As an atheist, death would be an escape from the only hell that exists for me.

But I can't kill myself; then there would be no one to take proper care of my dear cat, Mickey Mouse, and the only thing I cherish more than solitude is my cat. Ironically, he is a very social cat who requires a great deal of attention.

Living a completely socially isolated, and, consequently, impoverished life (not only financially, but also intellectually and emotionally) is really only terrible from the outside; from the vantage point of the ordinary person, who does desire social contact and whom I sometimes forget I'm not. Because, the truth is, I don't desire social contact and I never have. All my life - even at the age of 5 I felt this way - all I've really wanted is to be alone. In my entire 30 years, there have been only 2 people whose company I consistently preferred to solitude.

Whenever I have acted socially, as if I might actually enjoy the company of others, it has been because I felt an immense, irresistible pressure to seem normal, and that's what normal people do - they hang out together and have fun doing it. But being with others has rarely been fun for me. What it has been is either nerve-wracking or mind-numbingly boring. Usually a combination of the two. (Yes, there is such a thing as a state of panicking-boredom/bored-panic. More on that some other day.) The exceptions have usually been instances where I was in a social situation but was essentially alone because no demands were placed on me to actually interact with anyone.

So what does someone with this people-allergy do? (Aside from becoming a work-from-home computer programmer? I have no interest in computer programming.) Somebody once said "You won't make it if you can't make it with people." So how do you survive in a world where survival means doing the thing that you hate doing possibly more than anything else?

I'm guessing the first step is to stop feeling like such a freak about it. It's not like human beings are really that likeable anyway - we kill each other, insult each other, betray, abandon, and deceive each other. And "the other" is more often than not a friend, someone we claim to care about, not some hated enemy. The way I see it, I just have a lower-than-average tolerance for humans' despicability. That's nothing to be ashamed about.

So, "It's okay to hate other people." Rinse. Repeat. "It's okay to hate other people." Self-acceptance is key to solving many of life's problems. Or at least key to feeling comfortable with not solving them.


  1. These words are laying on my bed. Like magic. I read a book once. A girl in the book. A character. She didn't like the sound of human speech. I'd say: it's the English language. It hurts ears. There's no depth. Nothing from the chest. No clicks from the throat. No passion from the gut. Just hot air from the mouth. Steam from Starbucks frapping around my hurt ears. I feel you. Cause your words are laying on my bed.

  2. Saw your blog post in the Reader. I wonder if you are truly happy without relationships or human contact. Why are you blogging then and not just putting your words into a private diary? And why let the Reader publish it? (Maybe you didn't have to, I don't know), but if you did, you would have to think it would solicit comments on the web from people. Maybe you have an anxiety disorder or antisocial personality disorder. Maybe you are deeply insecure. Maybe you are depressed. Maybe you've been hurt too badly in the past. Maybe you are just lazy. I'd be interested to know how you spend your time. Do you have energy? There could be something going on with you medically. I'm not saying these things are true. But have you thought about any of this? Have you been to a medical doctor or a psychottherapist for advice?
    Just think it might be a good idea. I'm not saying everyone has to live a social "normal" (whatever that is) life, but I think you should look deeper and see what you may find.
    Good luck.

  3. Saw your post in the Reader. I feel you. I can identify. Or at least, I used to be like you. Now, not so much. I sought my Creator. The God of the Universe, who caused me to be. In Him, have I found Peace. In Him, I am content. In Him, I have Hope. You can, too! He promises, "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

  4. Hey Anonymous...

    Regarding The Creator, what if it's a "Her"...?

  5. I, too, saw this post in the Reader and I immediately identified. I hate working because of the forced social contact. My question is how do you get $13K/year without working? I'd love to do that as well. I am used to living off $8,000/year with a part-time job. Full-time is waaaay too much people contact, so I trade having the potential for more income for less people contact and therefore more contentment.