First, It’s about Survival…
Your ancient ancestors didn’t isolate themselves for fun or profit, they did it to survive. They had no cable bill to worry about, or rumors of far away terrorists. They had seen the danger and it was a blizzard, a bear, a pack of wolves or a tribe of head hunters, and not the kind that wanted their resume. They isolated themselves for protection from harsh weather and ruthless predators and we still do that today. Personal and family isolation for survival is deeply rooted in who we are as mammals and as people.
They isolated their possessions, their bodies and the fire that kept them warm to keep them away from each other, using the heat for survival, while keeping the flames from burning the animal skins, berries and the logs to be used in the night.
Isolation is older than civilization, and older than humankind. It is something we do very well, and something that preserves us as a species.
Most of us take our isolation from dangers like wolves, bears and weather for granted, these days, but still we maintain it. We sustain that isolation in ways that are part of our social and personal training from childhood. Our parents, relatives and society condition us with manners, rules and behaviors that have many isolation rules built into them.
The rules of isolation are changing – Are we?
In the past few generations society has learned a lot about food preservation and disease, and that wisdom is reflected in how we isolate food, waste and medical care. We isolate in refrigerators, freezers, medicine chests and zip lock bags. We use shoes to isolate our feet from microbes and toxins on roads and public floors. We use clothing to isolate our bodies from residues of other riders on the bus or train. We make use of cans, bins, tubs, drawers and bags to isolate thousands of things from the universe around them and from the disorder of mixing with the common pile.
We have entire professions that focus all or most of their energy on isolation, such as pharmacists, janitors, immigration agents, security consultants, infection control specialists, Hazmat technicians and disease control agents to mention just a few. We spend so much time and energy on isolation, that it is hard to imagine an hour of our time that didn’t involve multiple actions to isolate or maintain isolation for ourselves, our possessions or those around us.
And yet, isolation is a topic few of us were taught in school, discussed by our parents or practiced in a homework assignment or laboratory exercise. This website is devoted to isolation so that as we use it personally, professionally or for family or group activities, we appreciate how it works and what we can do to capitalize on its’ power.
Some of the aspects of isolation that are heavily wrapped up in it and that have isolation as a foundation or a consequence include:
- Shelter – our homes are mostly about isolation of ourselves, families and possessions.
- Survival – this is the first reason for isolation, and understanding isolation is a critical survival skill
- Health – since discovery of the role of microbes and parasites in disease, health, healthcare and medicine have used isolation in the most fundamental of ways
- Privacy – this is critical in crowded societies and isolation is the key tool; today this is more challenging as our lives are extended by smart phones, computers and wireless channels, such that data privacy requires special isolation technology
- Security – there is little that can be done to secure ourselves and everything we care about without effective isolation from that which threatens, from the old bear and wolf to the hacker in Uzbekistan
- Science – there is little we can do or learn without isolating what we study from the ocean of contamination that can destroy the accuracy of our experiments
- Technology – if we are to control a process, we must isolate that process from the energy, material and disturbance that will otherwise take it off course
While we can’t tackle all the myriad aspects of isolation in personal and professional lives, we will delve into many of them here. In addition to the ones we attack in our posts and pages on the site, we welcome your questions and ideas on all the others. Please join this conversation as we find ways that isolation can provide shelter and comfort for countless aspects of our lives.