Burning Down the Social Networks – by CrossoverChaos
If you’re feeling the tension singing in the air and over the Internet, and wondering “why are people cracking now, instead of last week, or the week before that?” I suspect the reason has to do with how the brain works. Or doesn’t. There’s some really neat stuff on how outside environments affect the brain for depression in this book.
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari.
(Yes, I know whose endorsements are all over the covers. No, I don’t agree with all the guy’s proposed solutions. There’s still a lot of useful info to chew over in it.)
Short version of what he put together: Depressed people tend to be suffering from one or more environmental and social disconnections. The seven he identified are disconnection from meaningful work, other people, meaningful values, childhood trauma, status and respect, the natural world, and a hopeful or secure future.
Look at what we’re dealing with now. Too many people are out of work. We’re not supposed to get within six feet of other people in public, and in many places if you are hospitalized with COVID-19, your family will not be allowed to see you, even in extremis. Meaning there is a significant chance you will die alone.
Values? The churches are closed. Donations of anything not food or protective gear are shut down. Sometimes you can’t even properly care for your own children by getting them vaccinated – it’s a “nonessential medical procedure”. Trauma? If you were traumatized as a child or adult by being controlled (and all abusers try to control you), the constant round of “you can’t do X, you can’t do Y, Because We Say So”, is hitting all those panic-buttons that tell your body your life is in danger. Status and respect? Job loss. Businesses closed. Oh, we get to see the politicians and media bigwigs getting haircuts and heading to summer cabins, but so much as head out for groceries without a mask on yourself, and you get the Evil Eye from perfect strangers, you ignorant peasant, you. Head for nature to try and regain your sanity? Parks, closed. Beaches, closed. They’re hauling in paddleboarders off the coast of California and arresting them.
Hope for the future? Fauci keeps gleefully recounting that we might have to keep the country closed another year or more. Too many politicians seem to be fine with that, while the rest of us who work for a living are watching what savings we have evaporate, and everything we’ve tried to build go down in flames. And nobody knows what the hell is going on.
Long story short – the shutdown of the country is taking every last one of those connections that normally keep people from getting depressed, and setting them on fire.
Humans are primates. Primates do not live alone. They get sick. They go crazy.
The majority of Americans are not crazy. Yet. But we’re hurting. Most of us have been confined in one way or another over a month, and that’s more than enough time for our brain to decide this is the “new normal” and start shedding neurons related to better times so that we can survive in this horrid numb depressed state. Good news is that the brain can recover from this. Bad news is it’ll take time and a lot of good feelings, sort of a neurological kick in the pants, to get out of the depressed groove.
Worse news is that depression seems to be the primate response of “please stop beating me, I’m no threat to you.” Which, of course, means that the tinpot dictators coming out of the woodwork have every reason to keep this up.
What we have is a situation in which all of America is being abused. I do not use that term lightly. Loss of jobs that you have no control over = financial abuse. The media constantly going on about “if we don’t do X, we’ll have bodies in the streets” = constant negativity, gaslighting. “You want the economy reopened? You want people to die?” = emotional abuse. Being shut up into your own house with people you may or may not be able to stand, not able to get the medical care, food, or other things you need freely = emotional, environmental, and physical abuse.
This is a situation tailor-made for narcissistic abuse, with the media and the politicians, too many of whom have those tendencies in the first place, taking full advantage of it.
(If you want some horror stories check out the “raisedbynarcissists” reddit – too many people posting there are forced to shelter in place with the same people making them suicidal. Some are moving out with no job, no resources, and no place to go, because otherwise they’re going to die.)
I’m not surprised so many people are cracking and afraid. I am angry. I’ve seen this before. I’m an Odd, after all. And I grew up in a little town that was distinctly not Odd, with parents that encouraged said town to believe I was the problem child and they could do what they liked to “correct” me. And when I say “could do what they liked” – that list of seven disconnections? I was forced into all of them. All of them.
(Books saved me. I know others might not have been so lucky.)
There’s an interesting bit of history that leads me to believe Hari’s more right than not. I can’t remember the exact details, but… let’s just say, at one point as a child I was told I should have been burned as a witch. So I looked up the subject.
Some researchers studied the history of witch-burnings in Germany, trying to figure out why some areas would pretty steadily burn one or two witches every twenty years or so, while others would have one massive flare up and then maybe nothing for a century or more. It wasn’t religion – Protestant and Catholic seemed equally hit. Didn’t seem to be famine-related, or wealth, or any of the things they expected.
What they found, was it depended on where the victims were in the social networks. So long as witch-burnings targeted people living on the fringe, who had maybe one or two other relatives/other social connections in the area, you got the low-level steady burnings. But if a true hysteria got started, to the point that the accused started being people of middle to upper-class status with lots of social connections-
Then it ended. And there wouldn’t be another accusation for decades, even centuries. Because important parts of the social networks got impacted, people who hadn’t been ostracized, and therefore it stopped.
What’s happening to America right now is our own government sawing through our social networks. Telling each and every one of us anyone we know might be a life-or-death survival threat. It is crushing the spirit… and people can’t take that and survive. Either they give up, curl up, and die….
Or they start looking for enemies. And they’re being told people around them, anyone who’s not behaving just like The Authorities demand, are the enemies.
I’ve seen this before.
I’m not afraid of the virus. I’ve never been afraid of the virus.
But I can hear the roar of the mob in the distance, and it’s bearing fire.
[Because C.C. is right, and depression is a passive mode, also a vulnerable mode that makes you susceptible to getting ill and to just not doing anything, even what you know you should do, I’m going to combat mine starting tomorrow (but taking the weekend off for the other stuff, including promo I didn’t do last wee) to sketch where we are, and where I think we’re headed.
The where I think we’re headed will be four scenarios, only two of which avoid the boog, and only ONE of which is in any way good. (And the one that requires the most action NOW.)
You should have received your “Please don’t boog” money and if you don’t need it for immediate expenses, it’s time to consider how to put it into durable goods, because where we’re going, you’ll need a barrel of money to buy coffee.
So tomorrow I’ll explain my sense of where we’re going (why, let’s tie a ribbon on the handbasket handle. That will make it ALL better.) More tomorrow. – SAH]