Où Sont Les Passiars D’Antan?

Everybody knows how women generally have larger social networks than men, in consequence of which they tolerate unemployment much better and are less prone to the mental disorders that accompany social isolation.

So far, so good. Not everyone, however, seems to reflect on the other side of this coin, scientifically just as well-grounded as the other, that women who are unfortunate enough to find themselves socially isolated are less mentally healthy than men who find themselves socially isolated. We might add that, women being so accustomed to good social networks, it is hardly surprising that they go more quickly to pieces when deprived of them, just as an athlete would go stir-crazy faster than a bookworm if locked up in a library all day. Whenever women crow about how innately superior they are by virtue of their larger social networks, therefore men might counter by suggesting that the ability to be alone may be just as useful as the ability to form such networks.

Now, not all men thrive in solitude, far from it; but the ones who do, generally manage it by being absorbed in something outside themselves and equally outside the social world, sometimes something relatively useless like collecting stamps but sometimes highly conducive to scholarly, scientific and technological progress. At the end of the day, such men will have achieved something tangible, while their moral superiors have precisely what to show for all the networked chit-chat?

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  1. Written by The Ghost in the Machine
    on August 10, 2013 at 14:39

    In my experience, whether someone is introvert or extrovert is as decisive as whether or not they are male or female. Without further evidence, I am not convinced that there is a strong correlation between gender and the ability to be alone For the introvert (female or male), a very limited social network — consisting perhaps of just two or three true friends, or even one — may be more than enough to help uphold their mental health when the going gets tough.

    Also, I wonder: how strong is a social network if it is based on chit-chat or mutual status reinforcement? Does it even deserve the name?

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