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Feeling Isolated?

If so, you're not alone
Thursday, June 7, 2018, 3:25 PM

Does anyone else in your life share your concerns for the future?

Is there someone you talk with regularly about the unsustainability of our current economic and ecological trajectories?

Do you have friends and/or family members who support your efforts to develop a more resilient lifestyle?

If you answered "no" to these questions, you're not an outlier. In fact, the #1 most commonly-reported complaint we hear from Peak Prosperity readers is that they feel alone and isolated when it comes to the warnings delivered in The Crash Course.

The end of economic growth. Declining net energy. Accelerating resource depletion. These are MASSIVE existential threats to our way of life -- to our species' survival, even. Most PPers can't comprehend why *everyone* isn't obessively talking about these dangers.

But very few people are. Truthfully, most don't want to; for a wide variety of reasons.

So that leaves us, the conscientious critical thinkers, alone by ourselves to worry and plan.

Does this sound like you? If so, read on...

Wired For Connection

Humans are biologically wired for social connection.

Until just recently, historically-speaking, humans typically existed in small tribal groups of 30-60 people, where the degree of unity and cohesiveness of the group directly determined its odds of survival. Facing constant adversity from the weather, predators, other tribes, etc -- every member of the group had a role and a duty to perform. 

We've delved into this topic deeply in the past, particularly in our podcast with Peabody Award-winning author Sebastian Junger.

In his book Tribe, Junger observes how far modern life is from the conditions our distant ancestors evolved from. We are so dis-connected from each other now that the lack of community is manifesting in alarming ways in today's society.

Junger focuses on the challenges that soldiers, Peace Corps volunteers, war refugees, and others who have similarly banded together under adverse conditions -- as our distant ancestors did -- face when re-integrating into peaceful, civilian life. Depression, addiction and suicide are all-too common responses as they struggle to find meaning in their daily lives, which now feel unfulfillingly superficial and lonesome compared to the "real-ness" and "alive-ness" they'd experienced before.

Despite the often-horrible conditions they were subject to, many guiltily admit to Junger that they preferred life under duress -- facing threats like bullets, disease, or cancer. What does that reflect about quality of life in our current society?

In the case of US veterans, they're committing suicide at the rate of over 20 deaths per day -- nearly one every hour. And they're dying of opioid drug overdoses at twice the rate of the civilian population. While there are many reasons behind this, Junger is convinced from his research that "leaving the tribal closeness of the military and returning to an alienating and bitterly divided modern society" is a root cause.

An Epidemic Of Loneliness

This alienation and division isn't only being felt by veterans.

In a world of digital devices and social media, our interaction with other humans is becoming increasingly virtual. In the sprawl of suburbia, we live in densly-packed cul-de-sacs yet hardly know our next-door neighbors' names. The fast-growing wealth gap is forcing the 99% to work harder just to make ends meet, leaving little time left in the week for socializing or family interaction.

The US is now experiencing an "epidemic" of loneliness, according to a study released by Cigna last month. Perhaps not surprising given that their cohort is the first to grow up with smartphones in hand, those in Generation Z are the worst off:

Gen Z is the loneliest generation, survey reveals (CNBC)

Loneliness among Americans has reached "epidemic levels," according to health service company Cigna's U.S. Loneliness Index, released Tuesday.

The index, which surveyed over 20,000 U.S. adults, found that nearly half of survey respondents reported sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent) and younger generations feel much lonelier than older ones.

For Cigna's report, survey respondents were evaluated on their loneliness using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire that was developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Gen Z adults surveyed (ages 18 to 22), are the loneliest, according to the report. More than half of Gen Zers identified with 10 of the 11 feelings associated with loneliness, according to the survey, including feeling like people around them are not really with them (69 percent), feeling shy (69 percent) and feeling like no one really knows them well (68 percent).

"While we know that this is a group that is making life changes, these findings give us a surprising understanding of how this generation perceives themselves," Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna, tells CNBC Make It in an email. "It's something that we need to explore to understand how we can address it. And that's what we're planning to do."

If you're a parent to any Gen Zers, this photo really hits home:

Best. Party. Ever. Meme

The ramifications of living life through the filter of social media are beginning to become clear.

A recent study by Harvard Business Review confirms what most parents have long suspected: the more we use Facebook, the worse our reported physical health, mental health and life satisfaction. Even top former executives from Facebook have gone public with their fears that it's "ripping apart society" by "exploiting a vulnernability in human psychology".

It's little wonder why Gen Z feels so crummy.

But it's not just the youth suffering. According to former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, at least 40% of all American adults report feeling lonely, with reported loneliness rates doubling since the 1980s:

There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher. Additionally, the number of people who report having a close confidante in their lives has been declining over the past few decades. 

During my tenure as U.S. surgeon general, I saw firsthand how loneliness affected people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds across the country. I met middle and high school students in urban and rural areas who turned to violence, drugs, and gangs to ease the pain of their loneliness. I sat with mothers and fathers who had lost sons and daughters to drug overdoses and were struggling to cope alone because of the unfortunate stigma surrounding addiction. And I met factory workers, doctors, small business owners, and teachers who described feeling alone in their work and on the verge of burnout.
 
During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.

(Source)

How concerned should we be about this loneliness epidemic?

Very.

Medical research shows a direct and pronounced link between social isolation and early mortality. Here's a scary set of statistics:

Living with air pollution increases your odds of dying early by 5%. Living with obesity, 20%. Excessive drinking, 30%. And living with loneliness? It increases our odds of dying early by 45%

(Source)

Understanding Loneliness

In order to improve the situation, it's important that we understand what our loneliness is trying to tell us.

Sadly, in our current society, loneliness comes with a lot of shame. That if we're not popular, if we're feeling apart from others, then something is wrong with us (vs our culture).

That leaves many of those feeling lonely to suffer in silence and to withdraw further, worsening the situation.

As popular author and social scientist Brené Brown cautions:

We feel shame around being lonely (as if feeling lonely means there’s something wrong with us), even when it’s caused by grief, loss, or heartbreak. This isn’t just sad – it’s actually dangerous. We’ve evolved to react to the feeling of being pushed to the social perimeter by going into self-preservation mode: when we feel isolated, disconnected, and lonely, we try to protect ourselves. That means less empathy, more defensiveness, more numbing, and less sleeping. In this state, the brain ramps up the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening – narratives that often aren’t true and exaggerate our worst fears and insecurities.

(Source)

This withdrawal away from the world is exactly what we DON'T need when we experience loneliness, warns University of Chicago neuroscientist John Cacioppo.

His research supports Junger's claim that humans are hard-wired for community; that "our neural, hormonal, and genetic makeup support interdependence over independence".

To Cacioppo, the feeling of loneliness is simply another way our body tells us we're becoming deficient in a critical nutrient -- just as thirst and hunger do. In his mind, "Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger."

So when we feel lonely, we need to recognize that signal for what it is. And just as feeling hungry sends us shuffling off to the pantry, feeling lonely should motivate us to make an effort to engage directly with others. We need to fight past the things that tempt us to retreat inwards --  such as our current culture's norms of shame and the false sense of connection/relief that digital media offers.

Creating Connection

So how can the lonely find connection?

Well, first, it's important to understand that when it comes to social connection, quality of relationships matters more than quantity.

As Susan Pinker details in her book The Village Effect, you don't have to be a social butterfly to experience the benefits of connection; you just need a few relationships that actually matter. But they have to be face-to-face, in-the-flesh interactions.

OK, so how does one go about creating these kind of face-to-face interactions?

Glad you asked. Here are several resources that offer specific guidance for doing just that:

In addition to the above, Chris and I are continuing to do our best to create opportunities for the like-minded PP crowd to convene in person. Consider coming to our annual Seminar in California next year, or attending one of our 1-day city Summits  -- our next one will be in New York City in September (details to be announced on this website soon). Over the years, these gatherings have spawned many great friendships.

And in the meantime, if you're feeling weighed down by loneliness, or the angst of being the only one you know who "gets it" when it comes to the material we discuss on this website, we recommend considering seeking the guidance of a professional therapist who understands the Peak Prosperity mindset. We've seen it work wonders. If you're having trouble finding one, here's a therapist we refer people to (full disclosure: she's my wife!).

Lastly, while not "in-the-flesh", we've built a very special online community here at PeakProsperity.com, where truth-seekers and action-oriented people from all over the world gather to exchange ideas and engage constructively with one another. If you're feeling isolated in your life, lean into this community. Share your thoughts. Reach out.

We'll reach back.

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21 Comments

Rodster's picture
Rodster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 22 2016
Posts: 40
Put Down The Damn Phones !!!

It's ironic that Steve Jobs would not let his kids use an iPhone or iPad because of what he thought it would do to their social and interactive development with others. I see it all the time, people staring down at their phones. How in the hell are you going to learn to connect with people if you are busy checking your Farcebook page or Twitter account etc?

There was a recent article by a tech blogger who admitted he was addicted to his electronic gadgets so much so that it had an impact on his relationship with his newborn daughter. So what did he do? He got rid of his iPhone and bought a flip phone with no internet capabilities. I also read an article on ZeroHedge where the founders of Farcebook admitted what affects social media would have on adolecents, young and older adults and the effects of a "Like System" would have on their brains. It was almost an addictive calling card to constantly check their Farcebook page to see how many likes their recent postings created.

I've been around technology since the late 70's and worked for several High Tech computer companies. I saw the writing on the wall with regards to social media. I have not and refuse to setup a Farcebook page, Twitter or Instagram.

The other disturbing thing about social media is the lead/follow system. How individuals are encouraged to follow a celebrity which just causes individuals to live their life through another person they will probably never meet in real life.

It's just more symptoms of a declining civilization that has pardon the pun, gone viral "all around the world" and this is not a USA problem only.

Rodster's picture
Rodster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 22 2016
Posts: 40
This ties in with the opening

This ties in with the opening sentences of this article which asked the questions:

"Does anyone else in your life share your concerns for the future?

Is there someone you talk with regularly about the unsustainability of our current economic and ecological trajectories?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Global Civilization To Descend into 'Hell on Earth' Unless We Choose A New Paradigm by Dr. Nafeez Ahmed

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/global-civilisation-to-descend-i...

 

Chris any chance you could do another interview with the brilliant Dr. Nafeez Ahmed? smiley

skipr's picture
skipr
Status: Silver Member (Online)
Joined: Jan 9 2016
Posts: 156
disconnected by design?

I sometimes wonder if this disconnect along with debt etc is necessary for the real powers that be to maintain control.  It's like a divide and conquer strategy.

I saw this disconnect back before anyone but the geeks heard of the internet.  At that time I decided to try living in a commune that was fairly isolated, but still close to a major city.  It was like a mini suburb.  Once a month people would get together for a prescheduled property maintenance day.  That was enjoyable.  As soon as that was finished people would immediately retreat back into their houses.  For the rest of the month it was the same old suburban mode of living.  I think a struggle is needed to drive people together.  But is it even possible for these communities of 60 to exist in a big city?  If they do, there will be thousands of competing communities.  Competition will destroy individual communities, much less a whole bunch of them.  I like the way Dmitry Orlov put it a while back.  He said that at the community level, communism is the optimum.  At the city, state, etc level nothing works.

Every time I talk to people about these issues it's like I'm pointing a shotgun at their head.  This look of absolute fear and a trembling voice always appears.  I've given up.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3151
Spade & Bourdain

When I started writing this article, both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were still alive.

While I don't know what their specific demons were, their recent suicides convey to me that the epidemic of dis-ease and dis-connectedness discussed above is pervasive across all strata of society today. To borrow a term from Charles Hugh Smith, it's a dimension where the rich & famous are not a 'protected class'.

This is solid, albeit sad, validation of the 8 Forms Of Capital framework we use here PP to define true wealth. Each Form is equally important -- even if you're rich in one Form, if you're deficient in others, you're not 'wealthy'.

In the cases of Spade of Bourdain, despite professional success, celebrity, and plenty of material comforts, each wrestled with finding sufficient Emotional Capital to carry on.

Maintaining mental health is critically important to being resilient. Though it's a challenge for a lot of people -- due to trauma, isloation, loss, anxiety, grief, depression, illness, abuse, and other factors. As husband to a therapist and brother to a psychiatrist, I receive lots of reminders about this.

That's why I like the quote from Mark Hyman, which calls on us all to come together (literally), as living in purposeful community with others is the best first-line defense against the despair that killed Spade and Bourdain.

Of course, those experiencing acute depression, including suicidal thoughts, should seek out professional help as well. If you or anyone you know is at that stage, consult a therapist/psychiatrist and/or call the National Hotline for Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-8255.

neoluddit's picture
neoluddit
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 21 2012
Posts: 2
where I find hope

in addition to to staying focused on IRL community, partners & housemates and staying engaged politically & spiritually, one of the most realisticly hopeful communities i've found is this:

https://www.pachamama.org/engage

I've been facilitating & moderating groups for them for 10 years and i consistently encounter amazing people & materials that keep me going despite everything else going on.  and particularly it's great to be able to openly talk about anything (eg the great garbage patches) without being shamed or shutdown as happens elsewhere.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5842
Distraught, depressed or demoralized?

As we’ve discussed here before, demoralization may be the better term to use than either depressed or distraught.

When one is demoralized, it is a rather profound existential crisis (as is depression) but one that is immune to both chemical or traditional therapeutic intervention:

Our descent into the Age of Depression seems unstoppable. Three decades ago, the average age for the first onset of depression was 30. Today it is 14. Researchers such as Stephen Izard at Duke University point out that the rate of depression in Western industrialized societies is doubling with each successive generational cohort. At this pace, over 50 per cent of our younger generation, aged 18-29, will succumb to it by middle age.

In the past, our understanding of demoralization was limited to specific extreme situations, such as debilitating physical injury, terminal illness, prisoner-of-war camps, or anti-morale military tactics. But there is also a cultural variety that can express itself more subtly and develop behind the scenes of normal everyday life under pathological cultural conditions such as we have today. This culturally generated demoralization is nearly impossible to avoid for the modern ‘consumer’.

Rather than a depressive disorder, demoralization is a type of existential disorder associated with the breakdown of a person’s ‘cognitive map’.

It is an overarching psycho-spiritual crisis in which victims feel generally disoriented and unable to locate meaning, purpose or sources of need fulfilment. The world loses its credibility, and former beliefs and convictions dissolve into doubt, uncertainty and loss of direction.

Frustration, anger and bitterness are usual accompaniments, as well as an underlying sense of being part of a lost cause or losing battle. The label ‘existential depression’ is not appropriate since, unlike most forms of depression, demoralization is a realistic response to the circumstances impinging on the person’s life.

(Source)

Suicide is always an extreme response and out natural inclination is to try and explain it away as a function of the person involved.

“Oh, she was depressed.”  “He had a lot of demons…”

But the truth is that suicide in an otherwise healthy person is not and can never be a rational response to a reasonable situation.  One of those two things is off, and our natural inclination is to try and force-fit the person into the situation so that the environment is not to blame.

I mean, why not?  The alternative is to open ourselves to the idea that the fault, if we can find one, is not with the person but with the structure into which they cannot seem to fit themselves.  That opens us to the very uncomfortable idea that we ourselves are “well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society” as J. Kirshnamurti put it.  And who wants to consider that?

Not many.

But the evidence is stacking up.

As I’ve posted before, the entire idea of being demoralized vs. depressed is quite a powerful idea, and the data is utterly cutting because it’s right there for all to see and it’s damning in the extreme:

Suicide rates are up 30 percent since 1999, CDC says

June 7, 2018

Suicide rates are up by 30 percent across the nation since 1999, federal health officials reported Thursday.

And only about half the people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition, even though depression had been thought to be the major cause of suicide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

While many cases of mental illness may have been diagnosed, the CDC also noted that relationship stress, financial troubles and substance abuse were contributing to the trends.

 “From 1999 to 2015, suicide rates increased among both sexes, all racial/ethnic groups, and all urbanization levels,” the CDC researchers wrote in their report.

"Middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides and a particularly high increase in suicide rates. These findings are disturbing," said CDC principal deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat.

Up 30!!

That also data fits with the dialog we had a while back with Sebastian Junger, where among the “22 suicides a day” being recorded among the returned military troops only half had seen actual combat.  The rest?  They are kind of like those in the second paragraph above where “only about half the people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition,”

In other words, no known condition or psychosis to point to.  They just…kind of…gave up.

At some point, when the statistics get bad enough, you have to consider the idea that the fault is not with the person, but with the environment.  With the culture.  With the social system.

This is why Adam and I spend so much time on the idea that emotional and social capital is so important.  How many future opportunities will there be, even among our faithful readers, for demoralization?  Plenty. 

What’s the best way to get past that and to thrive?  Being connected.  To self.  To other.  To nature.

If you are needing help, please reach out.  It’s not your fault.  It really isn’t. 

 

 

suziegruber's picture
suziegruber
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 3 2008
Posts: 218
Be Part of the Solution - Call or Visit instead of Text or Email

Hi Adam & Chris,
I really appreciate this thread.  As a solopreneur, it's common for me to feel isolated in my work life.  I am thankful to have a strong network of colleagues I can reach out to when I want to feel more connected.  Just today I had emailed a colleague of mine about something I was struggling with and she called me instead of replying to my email.  I felt shocked and grateful.

While technology makes communication easier on one level in that we can send a message any time of day or night, IMO that's an inherently disconnected way to communincate.  According to the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard, development of healthy brain architecture requires what they call Serve and Return.

When an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills. Much like a lively game of tennis, volleyball, or Ping-Pong, this back-and-forth is both fun and capacity-building. When caregivers are sensitive and responsive to a young child’s signals and needs, they provide an environment rich in serve and return experiences.

Because responsive relationships are both expected and essential, their absence is a serious threat to a child’s development and well-being. Healthy brain architecture depends on a sturdy foundation built by appropriate input from a child’s senses and stable, responsive relationships with caring adults. If an adult’s responses to a child are unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, the developing architecture of the brain may be disrupted, and subsequent physical, mental, and emotional health may be impaired. The persistent absence of serve and return interaction acts as a “double whammy” for healthy development: not only does the brain not receive the positive stimulation it needs, but the body’s stress response is activated, flooding the developing brain with potentially harmful stress hormones.

Our culture's increasing addiction to technology concerns me greatly in this regard.  What can we do?  Choose avenues of relating that involve real-time communication.  Instead of sending a text or email, actually call someone or schedule a time to visit.  If they live far away, get on Skype or Zoom video.  IMO serve and return must happen in real time for it to be satisfying and for us to feel like we belong.  Facebook likes don't cut it.

suziegruber's picture
suziegruber
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 3 2008
Posts: 218
Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

One more thing in response to this topic.  Since the Peak Prosperity community values data, I want to direct everyone to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study done by Kaiser and the CDC in the mid-90s.  This groundbreaking study really shifted the conversation about just how significant childhood trauma is to adult well-being.  Below are the major findings.  Note that suicide attempts are on this list. 

I want to echo what Adam and Chris both said.  Help is available.  As we understand more and more about the impact of childhood trauma, especially as it relates to how it affects adult well-being, interventions are improving as well.  It's no longer just about feeling better.  It's about actually resolving the issues.  I can honestly tell you that as a result of the personal work I have done, I feel 90% less anxious today than I did for the first 48 years of my life. 

Okay, here are the major findings from the ACE Study.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. Almost two-thirds of study participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one in five reported three or more ACEs.

The ACE score, a total sum of the different categories of ACEs reported by participants, is used to assess cumulative childhood stress. Study findings repeatedly reveal a graded dose-response relationship between ACEs and negative health and well-being outcomes across the life course.

As the number of ACEs increases so does the risk for the following*:

Dose-response describes the change in an outcome (e.g., alcoholism) associated with differing levels of exposure (or doses) to a stressor (e.g. ACEs). A graded dose-response means that as the dose of the stressor increases the intensity of the outcome also increases.

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement
Rodster's picture
Rodster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 22 2016
Posts: 40
Chris, I Never Made The Connection

Wow, I never thought of individuals being demoralized vs depressed. A couple of years ago I was listening to Dennis Prager on the radio and what he said back then stayed with me since. He said that if we as a society continue to embrace and encourage abnormal behavior, several generations down the line we will have to deal with an unstable society. Are we already there? Me thinks so !

As someone who turns 60 years young later this year I have seen over the past several decades of what we used to consider abnormal behavior is now considered, normal behavior. And what was once normal behavior we now view in many cases as abnormal. Kids growing up the last several decades have been introduced to pornography, same sex arraignments and now marriages as well as kids being encouraged to select their gender at an early age if they feel nature screwed up the process. I pose the same question that Dennis Prager asked, what effects will this have on future generations where kids were always taught nature as in the birds and the bees?

We talk about the implosion of the middle class but what about the implosion of the nuclear family? Over the years I have seen a role reversal where commercials show the Mom as the logical, thinking stalwart and the Dad is the bumbling emotional one who has yet to grow up. So I ask, could these things perhaps have an effect on kids?

We need to ask the question especially with regards to all these mass shootings as well as school shootingsm are these individuals mentally ill or are they plain demoralized? One of my favorite sayings I heard from trends forecaster, Gerald Celente and it goes like this: "When people lose everything and have nothing else to lose,........they lose it !

Every time I hear or read that another school shooting takes place and then you find out more details it almost seems as if these kids are demoralized and have given up and therefore vent their anger on others.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1665
There's something wrong with US

http://walterewilliams.com/past-versus-present-americans/

Having enjoyed my 82nd birthday, I am part of a group of about 50 million Americans who are 65 years of age or older. Those who are 90 or older were in school during the 1930s. My age cohort was in school during the 1940s. Baby boomers approaching their 70s were in school during the 1950s and early ’60s.

Try this question to any one of those 50 million Americans who are 65 or older: Do you recall any discussions about the need to hire armed guards to protect students and teachers against school shootings? Do you remember school policemen patrolling the hallways? How many students were shot to death during the time you were in school? For me and those other Americans 65 or older, when we were in school, a conversation about hiring armed guards and having police patrol hallways would have been seen as lunacy. There was no reason.

What’s the difference between yesteryear and today? The logic of the argument for those calling for stricter gun control laws, in the wake of recent school shootings, is that something has happened to guns. Guns have behaved more poorly and become evil. Guns themselves are the problem. The job for those of us who are 65 or older is to relay the fact that guns were more available and less controlled in years past, when there was far less mayhem. Something else is the problem.

Guns haven’t changed. People have changed. Behavior that is accepted from today’s young people was not accepted yesteryear. For those of us who are 65 or older, assaults on teachers were not routine as they are in some cities. For example, in Baltimore, an average of four teachers and staff members were assaulted each school day in 2010, and more than 300 school staff members filed workers’ compensation claims in a year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job. In Philadelphia, 690 teachers were assaulted in 2010, and in a five-year period, 4,000 were. In that city’s schools, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “on an average day 25 students, teachers, or other staff members were beaten, robbed, sexually assaulted, or victims of other violent crimes. That doesn’t even include thousands more who are extorted, threatened, or bullied in a school year.”

Yale University legal scholar John Lott argues that gun accessibility in our country has never been as restricted as it is now. Lott reports that until the 1960s, New York City public high schools had shooting clubs. Students carried their rifles to school on the subway in the morning and then turned them over to their homeroom teacher or a gym teacher — and that was mainly to keep them centrally stored and out of the way. Rifles were retrieved after school for target practice (http://tinyurl.com/yapuaehp). Virginia’s rural areas had a long tradition of high school students going hunting in the morning before school, and they sometimes stored their guns in the trunks of their cars during the school day, parked on the school grounds.

During earlier periods, people could simply walk into a hardware store and buy a rifle. Buying a rifle or pistol through a mail-order catalog — such as Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s — was easy. Often, a 12th or 14th birthday present was a shiny new .22-caliber rifle, given to a boy by his father.

These facts of our history should confront us with a question: With greater accessibility to guns in the past, why wasn’t there the kind of violence we see today, when there is much more restricted access to guns? There’s another aspect of our response to mayhem. When a murderer uses a bomb, truck or car to kill people, we don’t blame the bomb, truck or car. We don’t call for control over the instrument of death. We seem to fully recognize that such objects are inanimate and incapable of acting on their own. We blame the perpetrator. However, when the murder is done using a gun, we do call for control over the inanimate instrument of death — the gun. I smell a hidden anti-gun agenda.

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 1983
Demoralization! Why didn't I realize that?

Damn.  That is very profound.  I really think that, Chris, you have hit something important right on the head.  It is not depression, but a realistic demoralization about the pain that may lie ahead.  (Both real and imaginary.)

We are looking at living in an age when humanity moves into a great die offToo many rats in a cage.  They all go crazy and eat each other.  Do I want to live through this era?

Do I want to fight for my own personal survival when:

--my children are not preppers, they live in cities, and will not be any any more likely to make it than the average person.  The risk that I might see my children die is very demoralizing.

--I might to need to shoot starving neighbors who are only trying to survive themselves.

--I might to see many diseases go untreated (appendicitis, dental abscesses, dysentary, meningitis, etc.) that previously would have been treatable.

--to see people succumb to previously medical conditions due to inability to afford medications or get supplies.

--the population must fall.  Maybe it should actually be me who dies, leaving the fruit trees, garden and chicken coop to younger neighbors who came to the homesteading topic too late.

--seeing gang-like social organizations centered around a brutal warlord become common again. 

How do I find enough beauty and kindness to make living through a die-off desirable?

 

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 489
Too Comfortable?

We have a friend that was robbed at gun point at noon in the parking lot of a bread store.  He was apparently followed after going to a bank and then stopped for a sandwich.  He had a carry permit and was armed but decided that $80 wasn’t worth a confrontation.  Crime is increasing, it is disconcerting but it’s better to be proactive and aware than fearful.

It never occurred to me that I would be putting on a steering wheel lock on my vehicle every time I went somewhere because vehicle theft is so rampant.  Thanks to our State Law makers for making car theft a mistomener instead of a felony.   I try it imagine what’s next.  

Sandpuppy said “how do I find enough beauty and kindness to make living through a die-off desirable?”

I think, or for me that’s not the right question.  The question is “why do you want to survive, who do you want to help survive?  Victor Frankel’s book talks about when a person knows their why they can survive the how.  I recommend re-reading it - Man’s Search For Meaning.

As I people watch I think that most people are unfamiliar with hard work, discomfort and emotionally and psychologically weak.  In generations past hot running water, central heat and indoor plumbing was not the norm.  Activities of daily living were challenging and required hard work.  Discomfort is completely foreign to our society today.  It will be a shocker at some point.  Incomprehensible.

Do we want to live through a die off?  Of course, the future needs good people to help the next generation survive.  There can be meaning in discomfort and suffering.  Just perhaps those of us who find strength in a higher power will fare better, or easier.

AKGrannyWGrit

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1665
In the olden days...

“In days of old, iron men went out on the sea in boats of wood. Now, men of wood go out on the sea in boats of iron.”

bj-brown's picture
bj-brown
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 15 2009
Posts: 13
Isolation leads to despair and horrible futures-what can you do?

I belong to several virtual interest groups of relatively like minded people.  Unfortunately, they all have the same isolation problem we're discussing in this group.  We are too isolated and we're not reaching a critical mass, particularly in the real-world local environment.  
Several have tried geographic interest groups, but they have not been any more successfuI than the groups here.  I think because the interest groups are too narrow, none of them are getting critical mass at the local level.   
So then they try to do conferences, often to raise funds for the group organizers.  The problem is many of the most isolated don't have resources (time or money) to travel to expensive conferences.  The groups then become playgrounds for the more affluent, but don't offer much for the struggling mainstream.  
 

So Adam & Chris, a challenging question.  What do you want to do about isolation on this group?  Will you commit to providing real geographic connections for all participants, including those who can't afford paid memberships? Will you help local groups, especially those in more remote areas find a way to do small local programs that individuals might be able to afford?  Could you catalyze virtual discussion groups using Zoom or similar face-to-face technologies?

We've heard lots of why in the discussion.  What can you/we do about it using this forum?

Cornelius999's picture
Cornelius999
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 17 2008
Posts: 381
Living in Orbit for Years

In a way perversely, I'm lucky. I live in unofficial orbit around a psychiatric hospital where I meet and chat with other sometime patients about the best and worse things in our lives.  This is as unofficial visitors who are tolerated because we are occasionally patients. Official talking therapy is not much of a priority ( standard treatments being medications, cognitive behavior therapy, and nuanced ECT ).  The best talking is of course done in the smoking areas which are made as uncomfortable as possible by the health police. I'm a non-smoker but prefer to take my chances of cancer for the reward of meaningful interaction.

bcassell's picture
bcassell
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2013
Posts: 5
SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS

I did a Uni report on this topic a few years ago, and it was found that the highest rates of suicide were among the Aboriginal Australians, Japanese, Russians, and Scandinavians, and the lowest rates of suicide were in Brazil were the idea of suicide is considered culturally ridiculous.  There were some interesting outliers though.  When a large mining company evicted an indigenous tribe in Brazil, and compensated them to integrate into a 'normal' life, there were high rates of suicide among them.  So in conclusion it seems that society's cultural expectations placed upon a people and their livelihood is the greatest cause of demoralisation.  Welfare is a double edged sword.  My recommendation is to introduce shanty towns, favellas, or settlements, not destroy them.  The government should support them, build their plumbing and electricity, and offer the infrastructure for free.  The more simple the settlement the better.  A tin roof with a few rocks to hold it in place and a few tree branches.  We need to lower our standards and says its OK.  The Australian Aborigines are told they aren't allowed to live in poor conditions, and they must live in nuclear homes with nice garages, etc, but they don't have a livelihood.  Let nature take its cause.  Stop sending in degree qualified non government charity organisations to get rid of the settlements and shanties, because THAT is what is demoralising the people.  Look to the Brazilian favella for inspiration.    

 

For those of you feeling demoralised, recognise the hypnotising affects of the society you live in specifically.  You obviously live somewhere where you are expected to have more material wealth than what you can achieve.  Make a hippy change.  Get rid of the nice car.  Create organised chaos.  Be messy.  Get rid of the nice clothes.  Be the eyesore amongst your friends.  Downgrade.  Set a new standard and be confident about it.  Its OK to eat a sandwiche, and not gourmet restaurant food from a restaurant.    

 

bcassell's picture
bcassell
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2013
Posts: 5
VICIOUS CYCLE

I think those of you feeling lonely go out and seek company in the society and culture of your country.  The expectations of that society may simply be too unobtainable.  So its a vicious cycle.  Like Chris said regarding demoralisation, maybe its not the person, but the society that has something wrong with it.  Most people cannot get enough courage to consider the crazy idea that an entire society may have something wrong with it.  Especially if its a powerful and rich one.

gnltabor's picture
gnltabor
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 21 2010
Posts: 23
Good book on the topic

There’s a book that expands on the topic called iGen by Jean M Twenge which addresses the isolation that the generation born in the 1990’s and later are experiencing life through technology.  The new reality requires us to move from narcissism to selfless service to others to break free from the epidemic which is going mainstream and undergirds the acts of violence that are becoming common place in our society.

bcassell's picture
bcassell
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2013
Posts: 5
YOUTH

Its possible that the youth are a demographic with higher risk of demoralisation.  Consider farming families from 50+ years ago vs professionally employed families now.  There is no livelihood for the larger family when people are professionals.  When the job ends, so does the money.  

darkstream's picture
darkstream
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2016
Posts: 2
Resilient Community in Portland OR

I’ve put out a vision for a resilience-oriented non-residential community or “tribe” in Portland, OR, called Portland Gift Community. If you know anyone in Portland looking to experience a sense of tribe, to build more resilient lives in partnership with each other, and to share skills and gifts with each other, please forward our site to them:  Portland Gift Community (portlandgiftcommunity dot org).

I’m grateful to Chris and Adam’s work as well as the vision put forth by Bill Kauth and Zoe Alowan (interviewed on Peak Prosperity on September 5, 2016), and a bunch of other thinkers (described on our home page) for inspiring our community.

On the relationship between depression and human relationships, I highly recommend Johann Hari’s new book on the origins of depression, Lost Connections.

 

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2251
2nd the recommendation of "Lost Connections"

Darkstream,

   I'm reading "Lost Connections" now and agree that it's an excellent book; one of the best I've read on the causes of depression and anxiety, and what actually works to combat them.  The author, Johann Hari, is all about looking at what (sound) scientific research is telling us, and it's very eye-opening. 

   "Lost Connections" also reinforces Chris and Adam's stand on the importance of community and social capital.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

   Adam, Johann would make a great off-the-cuff guest! 

   Here's a good presentation he gave covering much of the book's material back in Feb 2018.

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