Nobody wants to leave their apartment anymore. That’s the prevailing sentiment on the internet, anyway. Mean Girls memes and Viola Davis gifs celebrate the joy of canceling plans. Essays offer neuroscience-backed explanations of the relief that comes with bailing on drinks, while listicles and trend pieces promote the homebody lifestyle. Advice columns enumerate tips for backing out of social plans without losing your friends. The weekly newsletter Girls Night In features “recommendations for a cozy night in” alone or with girlfriends, including books, recipes, gratitude exercises, and candles. And at last count, Etsy offered 11,490 introvert-branded items celebrating a life of blissful solitude, from enamel pins emblazoned with the motto “Anti-Social Butterfly” to t-shirts declaring, “It’s way too people-y outside.”
The rise of millennial hermits is a bit puzzling at first blush. Sure, staying inside has its advantages. You’re sheltered from the elements. You can watch TV, which has gotten really good. Your pet is there, if you have a pet. And everyone needs downtime, some of us more than others.