Man in the Box: The Socially Isolated Male

By | November 10, 2018

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“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation” stated Henry David Thoreau in his book Walden. Men do not have to resign to the desperation of social isolation.

Social Isolation has been identified as epidemic comparative to smoking and obesity in several countries including the U.S., U.K., and Japan. In the U.S. social isolation is one of 12 Grand Challenges for social work. The U.K. recently appointed a Minister for Loneliness to explore ways to assist the isolated and lonely population. In Japan, social isolation is called Hikikomori and the Japanese government has estimated there are at least a half-million people (primarily men) with this condition.

If you want to isolate, then do it. If you enjoy spending a weekend binge-watching Netflix, playing video games, or lounging in your robe all day instead of engaging with people, then do it (I am guilty as charged). There is intrinsic value in creating personal space for time alone. Control of your environment, decompression from the stress of work/life, and relaxation are essential to a person’s well-being. However, there are consequences to an overly isolated lifestyle.

Momentary isolation can be refreshing and productive but for many men, it is a way of life that is debilitating. It can be so debilitating that it leads to long-term health issues, depression, stagnation, and even suicide. The notions to simply “man up” and “get over it” can potentially compound the issue and have no value in the discussion of social isolation.

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I do not believe social isolation can be eradicated, but it can definitely be treated by social work and medical professionals. There is a process of steps that require identifying the core of isolating behavior, exploring the resources available, taking action, and accepting that is it Truth but not Fact of a man’s existence.

There are vast amounts of articles, blogs, and videos, from men who are struggling with the same issue. Read, watch, and listen to all you can! Technology, despite its potential to compound the issue, is an excellent resource. FaceTime, Skype, text, or call the people you care about most. I also believe there is simplicity in merely opening a window to feel the air and warmth of the sun without having to make an uncomfortable effort to go outdoors.

Leading a life of quiet desperation does not and should not define a man. Fight on!


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