Isolation

Today, an article on video game addiction showed up in my email, sent to me through a mailing list. I read the whole NYT article despite the newspaper’s warning that I’d better pay for a subscription or else. I am aware that video game addiction exists but it’s my understanding that it affects only a small portion of the population. I have not once played one of those games and I have no interest in doing so.

Only a small portion of the article was devoted to the clever designing of these games. Psychologists work for these companies, hired to make the games addicting. The motive here is obvious: The more the kids play, the more money for the gaming industry.

We can compare to the addition of nicotine into tobacco cigarettes. The tobacco companies want more smokers and they want smokers to smoke more. I hear that in some instances, sugar is added to foods to make people eat more of them.

Likewise, I’m sure the pharmaceutical industries have long been aware the psychiatric drugs aren’t so easy to stop once started. New research has shown that the antidepressant class is a lot harder to get off than originally thought, however, I believe this has been known for as long as antidepressants existed.

I continued to read the article, skipping over the bullshit stuff about dopamine. Actually, if you read the article carefully, I think it’s pretty clear that if dopamine is involved, and that’s all it is, then we’d all end up addicted to all kinds of things. But we aren’t.

The article then focused on social isolation, particularly in the young men who were addicted to the games. Apparently, due to the way our culture is, we are not teaching our boys to express themselves or share feelings with others. The young men portrayed didn’t know how to socialize, or felt that their relationships were shallow and meaningless.

I am glad I read that article. Although I am not addicted to video games, alcohol, or cigarettes, I am headed down that isolation path myself. I actually don’t see anyone ever, rarely talk on the phone, rarely “go out” which apparently means (to some) going out with others. I am alone all day. Of course I don’t talk to anyone at the schools where I work. If people knew how I really felt about the deterioration of public education, I’d be fired. Working from home I get to talk to customers all day. About three minutes per customer and that’s it. This doesn’t feel like “meaningful relationships.”

I came to the realization that this is likely the cause of my growing unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life. I feel totally ineffective, like I don’t ever get the chance to help anyone or influence the world in a positive way. I feel looked down on, like a lesser human, or half the time, not even given a chance.

I believe there are many in my situation, people who feel useless in their jobs, like what they do is meaningless and purposeless.

I am not sure how I can change this. I canceled most of my upcoming subbing jobs because I feel the job is too much of a bummer.

Here is yet one more example of the crap I have to put up with. I was teaching a class where the architecture of the room and the objects in the room are not conducive to orderly behavior. I asked several of the children to move away from a particular area where they were playing. All the sudden, the aide in the room, who was mostly doing nothing at all (I believe she was playing with her gadget mostly) yelled at the boys. I didn’t hear her exact words, only some of it, which seemed geared toward one boy in particular, like he had done something awful.

The boy immediately recoiled and his face turned to a grimace, then, he began to sob quietly. He hid his face and curled up on his seat. I tried to approach him but he curled up even more. That said to me that he wasn’t ready to talk about it. He needed to cry.

The aide was clueless about the consequences of her shaming. Kids are all different and some will just ignore you if you say stuff like that, while others are going to react the way this boy did.

Interesting things happen when a child in the classroom cries. Invariably, another child or two, regardless of gender, will come sit next to the child who is upset. The supporting child doesn’t do anything to aggressively engage the other child. He or she will quietly sit and offer comfort only if asked. That’s what happened. I changed the activity and at that point, the boy stopped crying and got involved in what everyone else was doing.

Middle school kids are a little different. They’ve already been trained by the help industry. This is what happens when a middle school kid gets upset: Another child, generally the same gender, will go to see what’s up. Then, the team of kids, two or three generally, will approach me and ask to go to the guidance counselor. Oddly, they now believe there are these magical people called “counselors” who solve all their emotional issues. This doesn’t happen in elementary school.

With adults, and likely college students also, we stop sharing when we’re upset. We are forced to bottle it up. Some adults quietly enlist the help industry and down the rabbit hole of mental health they go.

What we don’t see, in adulthood, is that amazing support the kids give each other in childhood. It’s just not there. If you show you’re upset in the average workplace, you are likely to lose your job. If you express outrage on social media, you lose your friends. Anything but positive, positive, positive gets booted out.

Overemphasis on positivity, smiling faces, and ideal world delusions are killing us. As life starts to suck worse and worse, the push for positivity gets stronger. We’re supposed to ignore unemployment, ignore poverty, meditate and do idiotic McMindfulness exercises to totally ensure passivity, and if we are still upset, go talk to a shrink because surely, we are at fault.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

So today, I’ve “gone out,” meaning I’m sitting in a real coffee shop. I don’t see anyone my age here, or even close to my age. How long has it been since I went to coffee with anyone? I remember back in the 80s I did this regularly, went out with the other drugged people and actually socialized. When I was dating Joe, we went for coffee every day. After he died, there wasn’t anyone to “go out” with. That, sadly, has pretty much continued.

Maybe there’s a way to end this isolation. Maybe if I can find others who aren’t over-hyped in positivism, I might get somewhere. Maybe I can meet others who actually want to change the world. I’m not sure where to find them other than “online” which I am frankly sick of.

I’m sure such places exist, but I need to find them. I am not sure relocating (again) will get me anywhere at all. I’m likely to be surrounded by more unfriendly people. I find the folks on the bus are more friendly than my neighbors by far. Even folks at the bus stop say hello and we talk. It’s fleeting, but it actually means a lot to me that folks are kind and don’t turn away.

Being scammed has somehow brought all this to the forefront. It is time for a change. It is time for a change. Shall I say it again?

2 thoughts on “Isolation”

  1. I am isolated by choice but I do enjoy speaking with you on the phone.
    In a few hours I am going to a Kabbalah study group in Taos. That is my cure for isolation.
    I believe you do meaningful things but its hard to judge yourself.
    Just being yourself brings light to the world. I could be bias… 🙂

    1. Isolation by choice isn’t isolation. It’s solitude. I like it when it’s by choice. I do not like it when I realize I’ve been totally alone for days or weeks on end and have not seen another human being. Isolation wrecks a person’s ability to interact with others because we get out of practice.

Feedback and comments welcome!