Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Need for Alone Time and the Power of Other Meaning Processors

I have been considering for some time now a couple of related issues of a personal nature. The first is the fact that I absolutely have to have a great deal of alone time. The second is why, when I do enjoy the company of others, I am left feeling quite exhausted, both emotionally and physically.

The alone time thing has always been there for me. For as far back as I can remember I had this ability to let my mind idle away freely on its own; playing with pretty much anything as a toy, or indulging on great flights of imagination. Now its a combination of idling as I play computer games, or reaching out with all of my ability to feel, and visualize, everything around me, but without any inner dialogue. There is also a great deal of reading of course, but I try to do that with as much emphasis on the simple act of observation that I can muster.

I have always thought of my head as the big tub which (I remember being depicted in various ways) in the Li'l Abner comic (which I realize dates me considerably). They would throw in some of the most absurd things you could ever imagine to get rendered down into a psycho turbo, intox-atronic, B.F.G. blast in the ass drink.

The upside of this as far as thinking goes is that you can get some pretty amazing counter blast (as Marshall McLuhan used the term) insights into the morass of stimuli that you may find yourself in. The down side, as is probably even more obvious, is that you have a head that can go off in rather negative ways as well.

In any case, however, an important aspect of how this works is to let the bubbling mess simmer on its own, without forcing it to produce on demand.

As far as being with people is concerned, though, I want to be quite clear. I have, and still do enjoy the company of others. I especially enjoy being able to provide laughter to others; something I had to become quite good at as I had an alcoholic, manic depressive, mother.

The thing is, though, when I am again by my self I find that I have been taxed to the limit; a fact hardly noticed at all as it built up along the way. Understanding why this occurs has been quite perplexing.

One aspect of what may be going on here is stress I have always felt with the implied situation of being on stage, or on camera, in the context that Sociologist Irving Goffman described in his book "Frame Analysis." Nominal social interactions never created a great deal of this stress for me, at least that I am aware of, but more specifically literal on stage moments certainly did, and still do.

This is, coincidentally, one of the problems I have had to deal with as a developer. The combination of how my very odd head works, and being on camera for job interviews was always an exercise in fear management, and the ability to accept the occasional humiliation.

The problem here was that I never wanted to be a developer in the first place so I internalized only the minimum of what was needed to get the work done. And over time I internalized quite a bit, but I could never count on having much of any of the buzzwords, or design paradigms of the day, on the tip of my tongue. A lot of times, in fact, I never had any experience at all with a particular development environment before, and/or the business systems that needed problem solving. The most I ever had was a faith in my ability to figure out what I needed to figure out, and pick up on whatever technology, or coding syntax that was required. And when given that chance I usually did quite well.

In any case, though, that kind of stress may be involved to one degree or another, but I don't believe it to be the main part.

For that we need to turn to an aspect of what Carlos Castaneda (partial fraud though he may have been) talked about in describing the power we allow others to have in influencing how we perceive most anything, including ourselves; and especially in the perception of how we come across to others in everyday discourse.

There are always many ways to see a thing, and often it is simply a choice as to how you will see one meaning as more valid than another. If you are, however, a natural empath you can add extra fertile ground for giving weight to your perception of how others perceive you. You can even do this without consciously being aware of it.

There may well be, however, more to it than even that part of the meaning choices of others. It may be that being in the presence of other meaning processors, even without a word being spoken at all, or any demonstrative behaviors engaged in, an interaction of meaning field affects that we can only begin to imagine now. Field affects that, depending on the individuals, and the experience association history they bring to the table, can cause unknown quantities of frisson, resonance, or a host of other similar effects in quite varied combinations. And again, with all of it being received without our being conscious of it at all.

So, if you too find yourself exhausted by social interactions here's something else to consider as to its cause.

Check the cartoon out here.

The Goffman search link.

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