Summarizing Solitude, and a Précis

Summarizing Solitude, and a Précis

Rhetorical Précis:

            William Deresiewicz wrote an article for The Chronicle Review, “The End of Solitude” (Jan. 2009), arguing that the influx of technology in today’s world are causing us to lose our ability to be alone and that we can no longer be alone without feeling lonely.  He first claims that we are doing it to ourselves, by spending so much time online and on our devices, he then argues that solitude can be a great learning experience (especially within many religions), and finishes by claiming that the internet has remapped our attention spans.

Academic Summary:

Deresiewicz writes a very compelling piece arguing that because of the internet and our devices, we have lost the ability to be alone.  Much like how the television created the need to constantly be entertained, the internet created the need to constantly be connected.  He argues, however, that solitude, and alone time, are important aspects of the human life where one can learn a lot about themselves.  Historically, solitude has been an important part of our everyday lives, but with the implementation of the internet, we have lost that.  We are constantly connected online, and because of this, we are afraid to be disconnected, even if just for a short time.  We have all but eliminated solitude from our lives, thanks to the internet.  No longer, can we be alone, without feeling lonely; we constantly feel the need for connection, and thus teens are addicted to snapchatting and texting their friends nonstop.  We need to find ourselves again, we need to find time for ourselves, we need solitude back as we have lost it in time.

Descriptive Outline:

            Suggests that the internet has created a fear of solitude.  The internet keeps us constantly


Claims that the we no longer value alone time.  His students wondered why anyone would ever

want to be alone.

Demonstrates that solitude has been lost from our lives.  A teenager the author knows sent 3,000 texts in one month.

States that solitude is traditionally an essential value of our lives.  Solitude was once a societal value.

Argues that solitude is a fundamental part of some religious experiences.  One cannot hear God while people are constantly “chattering at you”.

Introduces solitude as a learning experience.  Solitude, in religion especially, can be a powerful learning tool in learning about one’s self.

Quotes Freud as saying that one desires to be alone.  “The soul, self-enclosed and inaccessible to others, can’t choose but to be alone”.

Repeats that solitude can be an excellent learning tool.  Solitude is “the arena of heroic self-discovery”.

Proposes that the modern city has a lot to do with our growing fear of solitude.  The modern city had become inescapable, it was a menacing environment, people everywhere.

Further argues that the modern city caused us to grow apart from one another.  “Hell is other people”.

Quotes Trilling and his “authenticity”, that one must have a strong relationship with him/her self.  “The essential relationship is only with oneself”.

Claims that the collapse of the modern city and the development of today’s city has created a fear of separation.  “Our great fear is not submersion by the mass but isolation from the herd”.

Proposes that suburbanization separated us while bringing us closer together.  We lived further and further apart, but technology brought us closer and closer together.

Informs us that in the 1970’s and 80’s, when the author was growing up, we became too isolated.  Everyone was trapped inside their own “cocoon”.

Argues that boredom is a new concept that didn’t once exist.  The television created a constant need to have something to do.

Compares that argument of boredom to loneliness.  Claims that how the television created boredom, the internet created loneliness.

Argues it is less safe to send our kids outside to play.  Says that the idea of running around and playing outside with your friends was once “unquestionable” but is now “unthinkable”.

Claims that we spend too much time online.  The piece says that the internet has “quickly become too much of a good thing”.

Argues that the internet has created the need to be increasingly popular.  The goal online is to become “a sort of miniature celebrity”.

Explains that we have lost the ability to be alone.  Claims that the because of the internet and television, we have lost the ability to enjoy quiet and/or alone time.

Claims that we no longer have adequate attention spans.  Says that five minutes on the same website is “considered an eternity”.

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