April 5, 2016

The problem I see with retirement is that, without work, we would have no compelling reason to connect with other people. In business, we tend to build a network of diverse people. In friendship, we tend to stick to our own kind, which means we would be socializing only with people of our age. Younger people would have no compelling reason to socialize with us. Since our friends will start dying, our network of bingo players will keep shrinking. Our only hope then would be our kids to come visit us if we nag them enough.

Building a network of human connections is time-consuming, so once we let it fall apart, building it back up again would be hard, especially if we are old. In this sense, retirement is social suicide. It’s a sure way to paint ourselves into a corner of loneliness.

What this means to me is that we have to be able to enjoy working. If working is not enjoyable, it might seem natural to assume that not working is better. But that is only an assumption. It could in fact be worse.