Balance Remote Living with a Social Life

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Reasons vary why people choose to live remotely but a common thread is they want to feel less crowded and infringed upon by people, regulations and noise/visual pollution. They want to be live more self-sufficiently and allowed to enjoy their privacy. To be away from slamming car doors, noise pollution, sirens and lawn mowers noisy neighbors and such. If you live remotely, where then do you go for neighbors and friends?

Not Dependent On Others? Living remotely and being semi or totally isolated from people works for a while but sooner or later those who separate themselves still need human interaction. Some self isolate because they want to be more independent but sooner or later everyone needs others in one way or another. If you truly live remotely human contact is more spread out and scarce. Sometimes it takes effort to connect with others in remote living situations.

Choosing friends. We have always trust people even though some just wanted nothing more than to learn enough about us to gossip, whisper or make up stories. Some just wanted to use us or take advantage of us. We quickly learned that friendliness was not the same as friendship. I don’t believe this is uncharacteristic or unique and is human behavior that permeates most communities.  

Coping with gossip mills. We therefore watch those who come across as exceptionally friendly more closely and scrutinized their behavior over time. If they gossiped about others to us they most likely were doing the same about us. Discerning who can be a good friend or who just wants to use us can be very difficult. As a child I remember my mom being part of a ladies group that met regularly and sometimes at our house. They used to work on projects, play games and just talk  but I never once heard them gossip. They helped each other when needs arose and I think that is the way life should be.

What constitutes a friend. I recall studying Aristotle in school and his observations on friends has remained with me over the years. It was Aristotle’s position that friendship fell into three areas. One, friends of pleasure – as long as people were pleasurable to each other the friendship lasted. Two, friends of utility – friendship based on what they can do for each other. Three, friendship of mutual admiration – friends who truly admire each other and seek the best for each other. Those who just like being around each other, flaws and all. Of those three types of friends only the third is a lasting and truly rewarding friendship.

No sense running away from bad people. There is no sense in running from “bad” people, because it seems that there is no safe place to stop and catch your breath. Sometimes it is best to stay where you are, especially if you love remote living like we do, and adjust yourself to your circumstances. People are people regardless of where you go and we now meet new people with skepticism until we can determine which of the three types they are.

So where can socialization be found if you live remote? We find it in various places. We have a few close friends within our small community because the politics in the community has separated people into different groups based upon numbers 1 and 2 of Aristotle’s three levels of friendship. We tend to avoid types one and two. Thanks to social media and technology, we are able to keep channels open with friends whom we have known over the years. We can do Facetime or see each other on line and that satisfies most of our need for human interaction. Social media is a great resource for those living remotely.

Other social outlets. The internet keeps us in touch with family, old reliable friends and newly acquired friends. People from as far back as grade school, coworkers, people who share the same interests, church friends, and mostly people whom we have known over the years and who we know we can trust and rely on. We have established friends on social media that have proven to be true friends. For example the photos of our framed family in this blog were sent to us by very good friends we met online with these gifts coming as a complete surprise. They are friends of the third type as listed by Aristotle.

Finding social balance. Having this interaction with people who we have known and can trust on a regular basis works for us and fulfills our need to interact with others. Our very closest friends are our dogs who always accept us for who we are and love us unconditionally without being judgemental. It is indeed rare that we find people with the qualities our canine family possess but we have been fortunate to have found a few. 

Social advantages of a remote lifestyle. One of the obvious advantages is that there are usually less people so there are fewer people to interact with. We have also found that when good people cease to associate with the gossips and rumor mongers they ultimately lack material for their poor habits. They then only have each other and their social circles dwindle because they lack the power of gossip and rumor mongering. Another advantage is that life lived remote has less stress. No traffic jams, no loud noises, no demands to adhere to or rigid expectations from others and so forth.

Remote living is hard enough but when unethical or troublesome people infiltrate your circle of friends it becomes even more difficult. People usually live remotely to avoid stress and allowing people into your circle of friends who provide drama/stress are to be avoided in my estimation. It is an asset to have good friends who will be there when you need them and in order to nurture those kinds of friends it is important to also be that kind of friend in return.

Living remote in the mountains presents its daily challenges and to have those who you can call on for help when needed (and they can call on you) is a valuable asset. 

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their remote lifestyle, read all of Bruce’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here, and visit their blog site at: Bruce and Carol’s Cabin.

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