What is anti-social?

There are several definitions in various dictionaries on the meaning of 'anti-social', which range from "rudeness and an unwillingness or inability to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people" (ie 'anti-social' in layman's terms and popular usage) to recognized disorders and behaviours known in psychiatry terms that represent a "hostility toward or disruption of the established social order." More recently, 'anti-social' is becoming widely used as it pertains to social networks in two respects: in marketing circles, it is a strategy to reduce involvement in social networks (because of ineffectiveness or social fatigue), and on a personal level, it is a rejection of, and/or desire to withdraw from social networks (because of social fatigue and/or wishing to reclaim privacy). In due course, these definitions will no doubt find their way into dictionaries like other words that reflect our times. The original meaning of 'anti-social' from the 1700s was 'unsociable' (common usage) and 'hostile to social orders' and in the context of those times would have included behaviours we do not consider hostile to social orders today, for example women objecting to not being allowed to own property or vote, arranged marriages, being excluded from certain clubs etc. In Being Anti-Social, the main protagonist, Mace Evans, is accused of being anti-social (unsociable) by her older sister because Mace is reading a book at a family gathering. Mace researches 'anti-social' expecting to prove her sister wrong and the definitions she uncovers are documented in the first chapter. The first definition she comes across is the one used in psychiatry terms and at the extreme end of the definition spectrum, but the last one (unsociable) seems to fit how she feels about people, family, colleagues and social situations. She then embarks on a journey to understand how she came to be this way and whether it is OK to prefer one's own company to social situations one does not enjoy. It is ultimately a story about being true to oneself.

The Title

Being Anti-Social (BAS) is the title I came up with when the idea for this story first germinated. Strangely, I didn’t go through the usual process of considering other possibilities. In BAS, the main protagonist, Mace Evans, references quotes from Oscar Wilde to help guide her through life’s challenges. She considers him her “life coach and mentor”. Oscar Wilde wrote “The Importance of Being Earnest” and so “Being Anti-Social” is a 'play' on that er, play. It is also a tribute to the movie, "Being John Malkovich", which was a unique, zany concept perfectly executed.

#beingantisocial #oscarwilde

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2016 by Leigh K Cunningham

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