Monday, November 10, 2014

Dining Alone

Today I'm going to address an issue that has been in my mind for quite some time.

The social stigma attached to dining alone.

Too often, I've heard people complain about having to eat alone, or not having company for lunch breaks etc. It really makes one wonder, why is there such a huge social stigma attached to eating alone? Is there something wrong with that?

I have had friends who refused to wait at the table alone for fear of being seen sitting alone. Heck, I have had friends who gossip about people eating alone, who surmise that those who dine alone must be loners without friends, or simply "pathetic".

But why must people who eat alone be seen in such a negative light? Why must they be pitied by those surrounded by "lunch buddies"?

I myself love eating alone. It's a really revelatory time where you really get to ponder. What's more, it's never awkward. Not that I don't enjoy having company while eating. I love that too.

My ex-colleague, who is a by and large wonderful person, once apologized for leaving me to half-an-hour of lunch alone. She had been preoccupied with work and had lost track of time even after I had reminded her. But she was not obligated to apologize! It was not her fault when there was nothing wrong with dining alone in the first place.

Similarly, I once spotted an old man sitting alone in a restaurant, sipping on a cup of coffee and enjoying some alone time while reading on his tablet. My company immediately lauded the former for his "courage". But what was there to be praised? If there was anything specially commendable about that act, it would be that he was exceptionally conscientious to reading the news. 

My point is: Eating alone is not something to be praised, nor is it something to be debased.

It is simply an act, just like watching television and surfing the Internet.

It brings to mind a recent topic that I studied in one of my school modules. How many things we take for granted are actually social constructs.

Take for instance, race. We are all innately human beings. Besides culture and physical differences, who's to say who is more superior? Which brings us to the point of social constructs. Society manipulates subjects at a young age, such that the notion of race as a marker of behavior and stereotypes are taken for granted. Such is the notion of gender as well.

I hope this article helps those who find themselves plagued with the pressuring social stigma that is placed upon such activities like dining. It is not wrong to eat alone, or with friends. If you simply feel like dining alone, go ahead and do so without fear of being judged. No one has the right to judge you.

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