Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Solitary Socialite

This is just a self-indulgent bit about myself — something I feel like describing, because I find it unusual and interesting.

For the past eight years, I’ve answered emails from 40-200 people per day, asking my advice on business and life.

I’ll sit alone in my little office for 8-10 hours, engaging with 100 people’s lives and questions for a few minutes each, and then go home.

Then when friends want to hang out with me, I say I need some alone time first.

They say I’ve been alone all day. So I explain that I’ve been massively social all day long, and feel spent, even though I’ve been sitting alone.

I like it, so I’m not complaining — just explaining. It’s unusual to be physically alone, but extremely social. A solitary socialite.

At first I thought this was a new internet thing. But for decades there have been people who talk on the phone all day long. Before that, there were people who just answered paper mail all day long.

It works for me. I love people one-on-one. When not answering emails, I’m often talking on the phone with one of my dear friends across the world, getting into great conversations for hours.

But it’s a strange life. The solitary socialite.

Photo of bird on a wire by Darwin Bell.