Aristotle described human beings as social animals and this phrase has been interpreted to mean that people try to engage with others and long for intimacy. However, as an emerging trend, there has been an increase in people who take pleasure in enjoying “me-time” rather than “we-time.” This trend seems to be taking place all around the world and is also prevalent on the Ewha campus.
Professor Cheon Hye-jung (Consumer Studies) says she sees students eating alone often, without being ashamed or hiding. But when she was in college, she says, “Even if they felt fine eating alone, students back then would have worried that others might see them as lacking in social skills.”
Cheon says that the biggest reason for the new trend to emerge is the diversity of lifestyles of college students nowadays. In the past, she says, students had similar lifestyles and the only students who were absent from school for a long time were those with severe economic problems. “From entrance to graduation, students who entered at the same year took the same classes, so it was natural to do everything in groups,” says Cheon, and also adds that students were even unfriendly to those in other groups besides their own.
Now, Cheon says, students often take a semester off for an internship or study abroad. She sees the sources of people’s comfort with being alone as individualism and a sense of competitiveness instilled in high school.
Cheon also notes that the advancement in technology has availed people to do many things alone. She says that due to the development of devices might have reduced the cost of compromising when acting in groups and has made people to follow their own preference. She says that nowadays students seem to sense the cost of compromising more than ever.
Professor Son Eun-jung (Psychology) says that there are complex factors which have caused this new trend. She says that the prevailing individualism and individual tendencies to avoid social relationship has interacted with one another and influenced this trend to evolve.
Son says that this new breed of people who enjoy their own time do not have any mental problems if they enjoy their own time but also can engage with and cooperate well with friends. However, she warns against the extreme case. She says, “If someone avoids every relationship and feels comfortable only when being alone, this person is mentally unhealthy.”