Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Singletons vs Communitons!

Recently Eric Klineberg, professor of sociology at NYU and author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, wrote an article in the NY Times about his work.

He writes, “Americans pride themselves on their self-reliance and culture of individualism.” He terms these people “singletons.” He claims living alone promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization.

I wonder if this is another outcome of the Information - Internet Age we live in. More and more, the preferred method of communications seems to electronic rather than face-to-face. Klineberg goes on to write, “Dynamic markets, flourishing cities and open communications systems make modern autonomy more appealing; they give us the capacity to live alone but to engage with others when and how we want to and on our own terms.”

At a deeper level, at the heart of our soul, I wonder if this is more appealing. With growing unemployment, not only is stress is mounting and tension increasing but hope waning and depression rising. Wanting to live and even work on our own terms has negative consequences as well.

After organizations downsize, those left behind are asked to do more with no increase in pay. Morale takes a hit, negative attitudes increase and trust becomes very fragile. Those remaining spend more time looking over their shoulder. Rumor mills crank up. Many business leaders are beginning to recognize the last overt benefit and unique difference an organization might have as a competitive advantage is a nurturing culture with a good morale where people do feel valued.

I suggest each of us find a balance of autonomy with commUNITY. We need to connect with others one-no-one and face-to-face, unplugged from distraction. I rank this up there with eating correctly, getting proper exercise and getting enough sleep. This will require the same sort of self-discipline as caring for our well-being. It gets back to understanding our needs versus our wants. This is work of the soul.

I yearn for us to become “communitons” rather than singletons, still respecting the need for individual space. Rather continuously looking in, this will require looking out and asking, “what’s in it for us?” rather than, “what’s in it for me?” It will also require learning more than from just “sound-bites.” I will require suspending judgement and assumption. It will require us to ask more questions including, “tell me more!” By becoming more curious, we might just reduce our fear and build nurturing communities!

What will your choice be moving forward...singleton or communiton?


BJGwood said...

"It gets back to understanding our needs versus our wants. This is work of the soul."

You hit the nail on the head! We have forgotten our soul and therefore blurred the line between needs and wants which has caused a great imbalance in our society.

I also like your idea of balance individualism and community. There are some instances where individualism is healthy. I enjoy an individual time of reflection and renewal (preferably next to a body of water in the sun) which allows me to be a more beneficial part of my community. And many times my community lifts me up/energizes me when I am unable to do so.

So does that make me a "Sincommugleniton"?

Lake Cumberland Winery said...

Dave, I think that one of the ironies of being a singleton is that we only truly achieve our full "individual" potential within a community. The TechAge has created the capacity for "mini monsters" that assume no responsibility for their actions or comments; words, symbols and stuff roll off of their finger tips or out of their mouths without regard to their impact on others. Anonymous comments without approbation are the sign of ultimate freedom.

We need to retool as experiential educators and facilitators if we are to meet the challenges that this age present. Together Each Achieves More is indeed true but we need to have courage to press the reality of community which seems bent on making each of us islands of indifference. Norrie