I’m watching Chicago Fire and these two are on a blind date. He says to her, What drew you to Golden oldies? – an online dating site (do try to keep up) - anyway she goes into this sweet spiel about how she was reading an article about something or other and the author pointed out that the worst form of punishment in any society is solitary confinement and therefore she’s decided that she’s going to do her absolute-bestest to go out there and live.
I’ve never had cause really to think about punishments beyond the ones we impose on ourselves. Our personal purgatories, where one hopes we are expatiating rather than merely wallowing. Perhaps easier said than done. But back to Chicago Fire the lady says, we are social creatures, implies that we need interaction. I’ve had reason recently to think about how different people communicate, what their silences say, why silence might to someone be an acceptable (or accessible) form of communication. Although I withdraw occasionally (who doesn’t, right? Right) it’s always by choice and I know my people are a phone call or a street away.
But I imagine now an elephant in the room that I must do anything but look at or talk about. The minute you tell me not to do something I think about it. It’s not a strong enough compulsion to make me willfully disobedient – too much excellent training from gendered Setswana training- but it’s there. I'm talker, its what I do and when Im not talking I like to listen to observe. I'm not wired for exclusion, isolation at least being yelled at is a form of engagement even if no one is really listening. Locking me away in a small room is (like) telling me don’t go anywhere, don’t talk to anyone, don’t read whatever you want, don’t move, don’t engage and so the first thing I will want to do is …all of the above.
Here’s an illustrated video by Molly Crabapple on solitary confinement