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The Intimacy of Loathing

A small thought:

A friend of mine and I were talking about people who vanish into their jobs. We've all seen this happen. They become more and more fixated upon their work environment until finally they have little or no contact with anybody not connected to their job.

We were wondering at the gradual erosion of intimacy that these people go through as their friendships wither away; that loss of a sense of your place in the world, in the community, in your circle of friends.

The fact that these people often do not in fact seem to LIKE their co-workers or even the job itself seems to have no bearing on this. Indeed, obsessive complaining about one's job is often a precursor to their vanishing into it.

And then an idea came to me: What if their intense loathing of their co-workers actually provides all the intimacy that they need? What if part of the reason why they vanish is that the passion they invest in the hatred of the people in their life is all the passion they want or need, leaving no room for any passion for any friendships? What if their place, surrounded by their hated co-workers provides them all the place in the world that they need in order to situate themselves?

I've seen this happen to some very interesting and worthwhile people, who have gradually become less and less so - less interesting, less worthwhile, and less like people - as time goes on. It's always depressing to watch, and I don't imagine it to be a very happy or fulfilling existence, but perhaps in terms of the human need to be a social animal, it is minimally satisfying?


15th Sep, 2010 03:53 (UTC)
There's a book by Robert Ardrey, the territorial imperative - available online here http://www.ditext.com/ardrey/imperative/imperative.html
that goes into this at length, how human and animal groups define themselves not so much by their members as by their opponents.

The science is apparently a bit iffy and out of date but it's a good read.

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