Deerfield students seem to hate being alone in public. Before study hall, most people travel everywhere with at least one other person: to and from classes, sit-down meals, and co-curricular activities. Sitting alone in the auditorium without socializing before school meeting is unthinkable; walking into the Greer without a friend will earn some suspicious looks.
The Scroll Editorial Board is alarmed that the Deerfield student body regards isolation as something negative, embarrassing, or pitiful. In a boarding school, the majority of students already spend almost every aspect of their lives in plain view of one another. Unlike day schools, where students commute to and from their houses, free to spend their free time however they want– whether or not they spend it with other people—Deerfield seems to possess a culture of socializing 24/7.
Why is being seen alone so frightening and shameful to many students? Perhaps it implies they do not have enough friends or are not popular enough, or they are worried about how other people might interpret the situation. Maybe they are simply afraid of breaking away from Deerfield’s norms, or they don’t know what else to do. Often, students pull out a laptop or phone to escape the dilemma; after all, being occupied is the best excuse.
We believe this mindset is detrimental on two levels. First, it reinforces the trend of sticking to the status quo at all costs and judging people by how many friends they have. A student’s popularity or number of acquaintances is not always a fair metric of his or her character or worth. Some people are introverts and naturally enjoy spending some time alone; it is not healthy for the Deerfield student body to perpetuate the notion that socializing all the time is the best thing to do at every moment. People should be free to do whatever they want, whether in public or private, and not feel ashamed for doing it as long as they don’t harm others.
Secondly, solitude can lead to deeper reflection. Students who wander down Albany Road alone may feel that they need to scroll through their phones in lieu of a friend to talk to in person. However, we believe that the ability to entertain oneself instead of relying on an external source is a valuable skill. Alone time can make us more introspective and better capable of sorting through complicated thoughts.
People are also known to be most creative and productive when they are relaxed without having to engage with people around them.
At boarding school, there is already little room for privacy, or, perhaps more importantly, for opportunities to develop our own unique lifestyles free of judgment. By embracing isolation as a more natural and comfortable state to be in, Deerfield can grow as a more accepting community. Instead of constantly consuming outside information, we can create original ideas and emotions. Instead of responding to your friends instantly, we can think more deeply and carefully. Let’s fight against the stigma of being alone in public.