The End of Solitude ]

A flawed but intriguing essay on the nature of solitude in the modern age. Intriguing, because he takes the typical complaint about modern social networking — i.e. that we’re all becoming narcissists, and competing to amass the hugest collection of faux-friends — and tips it on its side: The real problem, Deresiewicz argues, is that we’re becoming incapable of enjoying solitude. The best part of his work here is his survey of philosophic attitudes towards solitude throughout history. The “flawed” part of the essay, however, is that once he finishes with this excellent historical survey, his argument slowly decomposes into a slurry of “the world is going to hell” critiques — surburbanism! consumerism! tiny attention spans! narcissism! Still, his overall question is great: What role does solitude play in the formation of our spirits?

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