You Are Not Alone In Thinking It Can Be Good To Be Alone

Last month the BBC had a story on their site about the creative benefits of being a loner.

One reason for this is that such people are likely to spend sustained time alone working on their craft. Plus, Feist says, many artists “are trying to make sense of their internal world and a lot of internal personal experiences that they’re trying to give expression to and meaning to through their art.” Solitude allows for the reflection and observation necessary for that creative process.

There is such a high value placed on extroverted behavior in society that introverts can retain a degree of confidence in the value of their approach to life. However, the BBC piece does take the time to distinguish between constructive and destructive introversion behavior. (my emphasis)

Social withdrawal usually is categorised into three types: shyness caused by fear or anxiety; avoidance, from a dislike of socialising; and unsociability, from a preference for solitude.

A paper by Bowker and her colleagues…found that creativity was linked specifically to unsociability. They also found that unsociability had no correlation with aggression (shyness and avoidance did).

…Unsociable people are likely to be “having just enough interaction,” Bowker says. “They have a preference for being alone, but they also don’t mind being with others.”

I partially emphasized that section to distinguish between unsociability and other types of social withdraw. This may be an important distinction given that the URL of the article says “there are benefits to being antisocial” leading me to think the current article title wasn’t the original one. Being unsocial may not necessarily be antisocial.

Another thing from the article to note is the observation that being alone removes distractions resulting in a mode of daydreaming that “helps with focus in the long term but strengthens your sense of both yourself and others. Paradoxically, therefore, periods of solitude actually help when it comes time to socialise once more.”

This suggests the distraction of mobile devices in an otherwise solitary situation may prevent this mode from engaging.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment