1. In “Santiago” (a short story collection) Chilean writer Alberto Fuguet describes this sort of American in a provocative and, I think, accurate fashion:
“The facial features of that type betray not just a long-suffering life, but really a borderline personality. In the United States, more than in any other part of the world, one runs into those faces in the streets, or in stores like Walmart or Payless; faces that reveal a severe degree of functional madness. One only sees them in the United States. They’re people that have put up with more abuse or solitude than a person is capable of tolerating. One sees poverty everywhere — in some places more than in others — but those American faces are the faces that I fear the most: those jaws dislocated from so much time spent talking to themselves, those bug-eyes they get from watching so much T.V.”[1a]

1a. While the description here might be accurate, I doubt the translation is entirely so, since I did it in a rather haphazard and frankly unprofessional manner; seated at the head of a formica table in a somewhat dilapidated, fluorescent-lighted conference room in the basement of an international-themed hotel in Santiago, where I was distracted by the disorienting sound of two members of the hotel’s staff trying to cobble together a Spanish lesson from a mix of highly-accented English and Chinese. I’ll be doing brief translations of this sort throughout the course of the column, and I apologize in advance to everyone and everything that might encounter them.

2. At this point, you might be asking yourself why I’m using the term “solitary confinement” to describe a house that’s usually filled with people (the nuclear family) and that usually locks from the inside. In response to the latter half of your theoretical query, I would say that, as long as a lock is there, it tends to get used regardless of whether it’s on the inside of the door or on the outside. The right question to ask is “what kind of sadism does it take to get a person to lock themselves into their own prison cell?” Re: the first half of the question that I made up for you — see what happens to Xanadu in the latter half of Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.”

3. See French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay “Of Being-in-Common.” Good luck.

4. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ [4a]
4a. From Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic:
“As Kyle Chayka writes in a new history of the symbol at The Awl, the meaning of the ‘the shruggie’ is always two, if not three- or four-, fold. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ represents nihilism, ‘bemused resignation,’ and ‘a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe.’ It is Sisyphus in unicode. I use it at least 10 times a day.”