B1 Intermediate UK 301 Folder Collection
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The idea of being a sociable person is nowadays
heavily associated with finding enjoyment

in going to, and in all likelihood also in
giving, parties. To be sociable means welcoming

the idea of being in a room replete with an
above-average number of other guests, many

of whom will be unknown, most of whom will
be holding a glass of alcohol, bantering,

with lights lower than they normally would
be, and music somewhat higher than required

in order faithfully to catch the details of
another's voice. Parties have become synonymous

with sociability because of certain underlying
ideas about what true social connection might

require and entail. We assume that sociability
naturally springs up when lots of people are

put together in a room, that it means speaking
a lot and notably cheerfully about things

that have been happening in our lives, that
it depends on a jokey manner and – ideally

– on the possession of a few entertaining
anecdotes, often involving striking coincidences.

But such assumptions sidestep two sizeable
objections. Firstly, true sociability – that

is a real connection between two people – is
almost never built up via anything cheerful.

It is the result of making ourselves vulnerable
before another person, by revealing some of

is broken, lost, confused, lonely and in pain
within us. We build genuine connections when

we dare to exchange thoughts that might leave
us open to humiliation and judgement; we make

real friends through sharing in an uncensored
and frank way a little of the agony and confusion

of being alive. Secondly, true sociability
requires a context. We are generally under

such pressure to appear normal, self-possessed
and solid, we are understandably uninclined

spontaneously to disclose our true selves.
Our default mode is – without anything sinister

being meant by this – to lie about who we
are and what is really going on in our lives.

This suggests that a genuinely social occasion
might be rather different from what we typically

envisage. We think of a 'good host' as
someone who makes sure there is enough wine

and, at a pinch, ensures people know each
other's names. But in the profound sense,

a good host is someone who creates the conditions
in which strangers can start to feel safe

about being sad and desperate together. Unfortunately,
the modern world seems particularly resistant

to anything that seems artificial around parties,
which threatens to evoke that most dreaded

of all social genres: the corporate get-together.
The thought is simply to pack a room and leave

the rest to nature. But a commitment to deep
sociability might lead us to recognise that

we depend on a little artful choreography
to get us into the psychological zone in which

connections can unfold. We might need encouragement
– and even a helpful lanyard – to share

a little of what is sad within us. We need
help in networking, not in order to find new

investment opportunities but so as to identify
shared regrets, humiliations and feelings

of despair. Parties as they are currently
structured constitute a clever ruse by a sharp

minority, perhaps only ten per cent of humanity,
to persuade the rest of us that we have been

provided with the social contact we crave.
But, in truth, it takes a sharply insular

and misanthropic person to feel that what
goes on in an average party really counts

as anything like the requisite encounter with
one's fellow human animal. If we have a

lingering horror of parties, we should be
generous towards our hunches. It doesn't

mean that we don't like other people, rather
that we have too ambitious a conception of

social contact to put up with what is on offer
at most parties. The mark of a truly sociable

person might, in many situations, simply be
a strong desire to stay at home.

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Why Truly Sociable People Hate Parties

301 Folder Collection
Samuel published on February 27, 2018
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