Single vs Alone

Have you noticed that when describing people (be it yourself or someone else) who are not in a committed relationship or currently dating, we use the words “single” and “alone” interchangeably?  Everyone does it.  Don’t believe me? Read any column about dating or the quest for marriage and you’ll find that those two words are, in fact, used as though they had the same connotation.

And perhaps we do live in a time and place where some, very ignorant, people consider being alone and being single the same thing.  Well, I’m here today to tell you that they’re not.

“Single” mean you’re not dating/seeing anyone, whether by choice or otherwise.  “Alone,” literally speaking, means you have no one else.

Now, I would think it should be fairly obvious that no one is truly “alone” in this day and age.  I think one would be hard pressed just to find one’s self in a room without a television or a computer.  We are not alone.  Be it because of friends, family, coworkers, fellow weirdos on the internet–whatever–none of us are alone… even if it feels like it some days.   Knowing this fact, we’re forced to assume one of two things: Either no one actually understands what “alone” means, or using “alone” interchangeably with “single” is actually a judgement statement.  Unfortunately, I think the latter is far more likely.

This rhetorical misstep sends a clear message to the public, whether they realize it or not: Being single is “wrong,” if you’re single you’re actually all alone, singledom is an indication that no one wants you.  After all, usage of the word “alone” automatically implies that this is a negative, something that needs to be altered.  NO one wants to be alone!  “Single” doesn’t have quite the same impact, since “single” doesn’t inherently mean you’re not supposed to be.  What a load of crap, huh?  Well that’s how we talk about relationships in this country.  To quote Kelly Clarkson on this, “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.”

Here’s a fun fact: I get lonely, sure, but rarely when I’m actually alone in a room.  Being alone recharges me as an introvert, and it’s often when I’m most productive and creative.  Alone time for me is fuel.  No, I’m more likely to feel lonely in a room full of people where I don’t know anyone, or if I do they’re entertaining or some such.  I get lost in crowds, and I know I’m not the only one.  I’m the type that prefers a few close friends rather than a huge network of acquaintances.  I would suspect that even extroverts feel lonely from time to time.

But I can’t help thinking how absurd the idea of “being alone” really is.  I mean, on the one hand, we’re all alone– we were born alone, we’ll die alone, etc. with only ourselves having the knowledge of the inner most workings of our minds and hearts.  Sure, that’s true.  But on the other hand, if you are “being” in the world, there is no way for you to actually “be” whilst “alone.”  Even if you’re alone in your room, there are people still all around you outside of said room.  The world is a big place!

It’s an effective scare tactic, though.  “Hurry up and buy our products so you can land a wo/man or else you’ll be sad and alone forever!”  Riiiight.  Listen up, advertisers: I’m single by choice and I am NOT alone.  I don’t need your products, or a partner, to complete me or make me more palatable for you and your agenda.  Unless you’re selling vibrators… in which case I’ll take one of those. 😉

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