|Photo: Meredith O'Shea|
I note that my comments here aren't necessarily tied to modern telecommunications. The same mechanisms would work in classical Athens or nineteenth century Germany:
"When you don't have the time or energy to cultivate that sense of a separate self you're far more likely to seek it in the crowd. People don't know how to negotiate solitude so they're deferring to the most vulgar kind of pack behaviour. If you look at the kind of xenophobia that a lot of Australians are feeling it's a lot easier to define yourself against some nasty other than it is to figure out what you think and feel..."
"It's a way of keeping you preoccupied and stops you asking those awkward questions about your own cruelty or pettiness. Much of what we do and think is opaque to us. We make all kinds of decisions without understanding why, and have quirky reactions to other human beings – whether it's fear or lust or spite – and often we don't work this stuff out. Solitude is absolutely vital for trying to become more intimate with this weird self that we are."