Once Upon A Wolvog

Stories from the front lines

The Irony of Isolation


(Photo by Rachmad Sofyan)

Humans are wired to connect. To connect with others for our well-being. When we don’t connect, we isolate ourselves, we lose touch of who we are. This is a reoccurring theme in Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” with Snowman and from reading the beginning of “The Year of the Flood”, this theme might be emerging with Toby and Ren. I’m referring to isolation; a lack of contact from others.

I would say that Jimmy (pre-Snowman), was a pretty lonely guy. For most of his life as Jimmy he would use sex, cigarettes, alcohol to bring him comfort and to fill the void that loneliness left. Or something like that. My point is that loneliness isn’t new to him. But after the plague, with no one to turn to, Snowman has no choice but to be alone. This is where isolation gets ironic. To replace the human interactions needed for him to be sane, he starts to make them up in his head. The irony makes sense now right? Readers witness him speaking to imaginary voices in his head many times, especially to imaginary Oryx and Crake.

According to a study from Cardiff University, isolation is linked to a higher risk of schizophrenia because of weaker social links and fewer friends. Isolation could also lead to hallucinations, another symptom of schizophrenia. Remember how Snowman tries to hallucinate the presence of Oryx before he starts to sobbingly jerk off into the night? The hallucinations he sometimes has are linked to the loneliness and loss of touch with reality that are caused by his isolation. Fear of others, low self-esteem, depression, and other mental problems can stem from or lead to isolation. In summary, isolation is both a cause and consequence for mental sufferings.

hwwgjp6q0qoiefniba3y(Illustration by John T Takai)

My fellow readers, we don’t necessarily have to be completely isolated from society to experience isolation. You and I could experience it. But does it always lead to a negative consequence? Here’s my question for you: do you think there are any positive consequences to isolation? To finish this off I’d like to invite you to read this interesting article I found about people’s testimonies regarding their experience with isolation. Happy reading!


3 thoughts on “The Irony of Isolation

  1. We are wired to connect, so true. To answer your question, I think that isolation will always have a negative impact. Just because isolation is not the same thing as solitude. I believe that as human beings, we also need solitude to survive. Although we need connection, we also need our alone moments to charge our batteries, to reflect on our lives and on what the world is, it is necessary to have solitudeto be better human beings, but I believe isolation is definitely not good because you are depriving yourself from human contact. As you said, this can lead to depression, anxiety, or so many other health problems.


  2. This subject is so interesting and really gets you thinking. In Jimmy and Toby’s cases for instance, their isolations weren’t voluntary but rather imposed on them. So I think that the reason for the isolation should also be kept in mind. If you are isolated because there is a global pandemic I do not think that will generate many good consequences. However, if you choose to go isolate yourself in a cozy cottage somewhere up in the Canadian forests to write a book, that’s a different story.


  3. I think isolation in a less negative context can actually bring about many positive results. If a person is surrounded by people that are not bringing anything positive to their life it may be beneficial for someone to isolate themselves from that group. Isolation can also make a person learn about themselves and reflect on what they may be able to change about themselves and even their life styles to be the best person they can be. Of course I’m saying isolation maybe for a couple of days tops a week, but isolation from other people for longer periods of time would obviously be harmful to a person and their mental health.


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