In the article “Living alone is living the dream – but it can be a nightmare too” written by Ruth Spencer, she describes her experience of living alone and what “side effects” it has caused. After breaking up with her boyfriend with whom she had been living for three years, the writer looked forward to living alone for the first time in her life. Until then, the writer had lived with her single mother, with friends, or her boyfriend. She imagines that living alone will give her the chance to redecorate, to keep the house clean, and to spend quality time reading. Six months later, however, the writer is nowhere near achieving these things, and finds living alone incredibly lonely.
The article incorporates material from reflective writing, which is based on the subjective reality. Therefore, does the sender’s personal experiences and beliefs become central elements in the text. This is evident when Spencer addresses how living alone has affected her; “Well, six months later, it turns out that visions and reality are not the same thing. The macrame is still in a ball by the window, most nights I need melatonin to fall asleep no matter how much I read, and the drinks rarely stop at one.” (p. 1 ll 14-16) The intention of telling her version of an event is to influence the reader and let them gain knowledge and competence through her failures or successes. A consequence of writing a personalized text is that it might generalize. In this case, she generalizes living alone. In this text living alone is associated with loneliness, and it presents being alone as unpleasant and unbearable, which is not necessarily the case.
Spencer’s use of formality is minimal, which creates an everyday language and makes it easily legible for the reader. An example of such is; “I get home from work and jump on the phone. I log on to Skype. I turn on the TV or the radio or a podcast immediately.” (p. 1 ll 22-23) Spencer’s simple sentence structure and choice of words establish a nonambiguous text, which is more accessible for all. Her writing is noticeably explicit, which I believe is a significant factor in presenting the sender as relatable. When choosing to write about world-renowned topics such as heartbreak and loneliness, its beneficial to make use of the everyday language to get your point across, considering the topics are relevant to the common person, who does not necessarily want to dig for a message tangled up in formal words and long confusing sentences. Therefore, when the sender is at eye level with the receiver it is more appealing to the receiver, seeing that it becomes more of a telling that might include guidance, instead of an article based on facts and information.
In the article Spencer makes use of ethos, which is about the conviction of the audience created by the credibility of the sender. We see this when she addresses her epiphany; “Well, six months later, it turns out that visions and reality are not the same thing. (…) The ideal of the single life that I’d used to push me forward, I’ve discovered, is a myth. The reality is much more lonely, and much less graceful.” (p. 1 ll 14-17) She chose to build her credibility on knowledge she gained through experience, that might be similar to a previous or present event in the reader’s life. By showing that one shares some of the same struggles as the audience, will the audience place confidence in the sender. In addition, the audience are more likely to agree or justify the sender’s views and opinions if they come across as sympathetic and relatable.
I believe there is an important distinction between living alone and being lonely, even though the two experiences may be correlated, which Eric Klinenberg agrees with in the interview Why more Americans are living alone; “living alone does not necessarily cause social isolation.” As he explains, “…for most adults the reverse is true. In many cases, those who live alone are socially overextended, and hyperactive use of digital media keeps them even busier.” In other words, living alone does not make people feel lonely and isolated. Out of all the people living alone the very vulnerable and isolated people do represent a small minority. However, we must not forget about the fundamental social needs of human beings, and lack of such may cause social isolation. In various of research, including in Denmark, has it been proven that social isolation causes an earlier death especially with men. As stated living alone has various consequences for individuals. On a wider scale, society is also affected by the consequences of people choosing to live alone. An example on a positive consequence for society is that living alone encourages people to contribute to the local economy by socializing outside their homes. Finally, Klinenberg argues that where you live has an incredible impact on whether or not living alone becomes lonely, he states “Cities are better equipped than other places”, since the cities are packed with life and opportunities for interact with others.
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