In contrast to loneliness – the experience of the absence of being with others – solitude demands that one actually be alone; and yet, in the being alone of solitude, there is the possibility for the activity of thinking. Alone with myself, I can collect my thoughts, mull things over, and talk with myself. The space of solitude – the space for conversing with myself – is the necessary prerequisite for the activity of thinking. Indeed, it is solitude that nurtures and fosters thoughtfulness and thus prepares individuals for the possibility of political action. Some today celebrate the loss of solitude and the rise of the wiki-like hive mentality of the web. They scorn the myth of the autonomous individual who thinks and acts as an independent and rational being. And they are right to be skeptical of the classic stereotype of an independent person. At the same time, when one is always on, always connected, the time for reflection and thought that distinguishes us from a computer and makes us human is compressed.
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