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Isolation

August 3, 2007

It’s a regular occurrence to read comments on the anti-civ blogs (and from the bloggers themselves) about how people don’t know anyone else nearby who they shares their views. I also see people on email discussion lists making this same complaint. 

The internet is great at connecting people up but ultimately it is all promise and very little delivery and there is something slightly worrying about how it moulds my behaviour. Initially there is a great flush of excitement upon discovering this wonderful anti-civ corner of the web and this conditions us to keep coming back to the computer for more. 

Unfortunately the connections made online can only ever be made at an intellectual level. Maybe sometimes someone will write something that will get you on an emotional level but ultimately the sense of community and acceptance I keep trying to get out of my computer is not forthcoming. 

I’m currently spending most of my day working in a room by myself working so it’s even worse right now but what happens is that I get online and start browsing blogs looking for something meaningful.  I’m well versed in anti civ thinking these days so it’s harder and harder to find something to give me that old hit,  plus I probably only just ‘did the rounds’ recently and there’s hardly anything new. I usually begin to stray further and further past the edges of my blog-circle in the hope of  finding something that interests me. 

I end up skim reading a bunch of stuff that doesn’t excite me and finally when I feel completely flat and empty I stagger out of the room in search of real people. Luckily I have a family and there’s usually a real person somewhere in the house when I need one. 

So is this a zero-sum game? Does the fantastic information and insight I gain from the internet make up for the appalling effect it has on my social life. I mean, if I didn’t spend all this time online I wouldn’t be on this whole new ‘plane of existence’ that separates me from my real life peers and instead I’d probably be out there hanging with them. Is it really worth it when the only thing that really gives meaning to life are the real-life connections I make? 

Hold on! I hear you say. Aren’t you forgetting about spiritual and mental development in that mix? – What about the search for insight and truth? Isn’t that important? Don’t we need that too?. 

I’m not sure.  Some of that can be quite self indulgent that questing for truth. We can also get spiritual development out of rubbing up against other people in real life situations  – if we aren’t too careful about keeping a safe distance that is. I think it’s the type of development humans are supposed to have too. 

‘Course, I’m not ready to give up the net yet but I do think I need to find a way to put all this stuff to practical use. I think that’s why I like Comrade Simba, in a single posting from him you can usually get a bit of philosophy mixed in with instructions on how to build a water pump. There’s something kind of grounded and even soothing about that. 

******************************************

Meanwhile back in the real world we still feel incredibly isolated – our crazy extremist ways seem to upset people no end.  I’m starting to understand why people who do unusual things are so dogmatic about what they do, it’s because they receive so much grief from their family and friends. They’re forced to erect a big rapid response defence mechanism because of the very people who should be accepting them unconditionally. 

Surely it’s not wrong to expect that those close to us will accept us unconditionally?   I see unconditional acceptance so rarely that I sometimes wonder if I am wrong. After all I can count on the fingers of a hand with two fingers how many people there are in our family who can actually do that – and I expect we should be thankful for small mercies.

I’ve also been hearing from other people about our unsupportive culture. I’ve heard so much that I’m kind of channelling their collective frustration at the moment (lucky thing I have a blog).  

I know this is a familiar pattern of the world but isn’t there something really, really wrong with it?  How can I put this in perspective? 

We, in our nuclear family, decide how we want to live our lives and the people we depend on for emotional support and a sense of belonging start to shun us or criticise us because of decisions that have absolutely no effect on their lives? 

This is clearly bonkers but it seems like no one can see it.  I could come up with a complex psychological explanation to explain this – hell I’m great at that stuff – but it would do nothing to dispel the sense of bewilderment  I feel that people are like this. They care less about their relationship with us than they do about…      about… 

What is it they’re so worried about exactly?  

Tell me, someone.  Why do you people try to make us feel bad because we choose to co-sleep, or home school with our children? These are loving things to do and they don’t hurt or even affect you one bit but you still can’t help yourselves. 

Why do you care so much about what we do with our lives if you seemingly care so little about your relationship with us that you damage it by acting this way? 

We can’t have people close to us who are trying to undermine us all the time – especially when the only reason you do it is because what you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable.  We don’t want this to happen any more. 

Except we need to have someone close to us. 

*******************************************************

Like I said, I’m painting a picture on behalf of a lot of people there, and it’s only half the picture too – here’s the good news: 

After giving up the dream of ever living in a village, some friends of ours recently revealed to us that they want to start a village too. Isn’t is always this way?  It doesn’t actually matter if we don’t start one with them because now we feel like it’s really possible again – only this time the fanatical edge has disappeared. I was always aware not to get too carried away but there’s something about letting go of a dream that makes us much more reasonable when we the dream comes back. I’m cautious too, I don’t want to push too hard anymore, or prescribe too much for others. 

We’ve been discussing all this stuff on a New Zealand Unschooling list. It’s a great place for support and what I like about it is that not only are there people on there who have gone before us but the members comes from a reasonable wide range of backgrounds so there is a lot of balance to the group. (Scott Peck says that’s one of the characteristics of true community incidentally). 

Through the list we have been delighted to discover people nearby who have chosen a similar lifestyle – and are suffering similar, probably worse problems – hopefully we’ll get to hang out with them soon. 

I’m looking forward to it.

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2 comments

  1. Comments

    Like you I’m trying to find a different way of living, that is not simply one of conforming and fitting in with what civilisation demands of us. I am now officially sick of being a wage slave, but haven’t yet broken free. You are much further along the road of making changes than I am.

    In terms of people’s response to your chosen lifestyle I now firmly believe that people suffer from two fundamental characteristics that are the cause of the modern malaise – gullibility and denial.

    People believe that civilisation is right and works for everyone. Once you start peeling back the layers you wonder how anyone could believe this stuff, and agree to live this way as a wage slave. But most people (99.999%) never question this and just believe whatever they are told. That’s one of the goals of school of course – to train young children to unquestionably accept and believe whatever they are told by someone in an authority position.

    And to compensate for believing rubbish, the defence reaction is one of denial. Point out the fallacies in what people believe and how civilisation works, and everyone just denies it. Point blank. Rather than actually consider what you have said and the implications of it, they simply deny what you have said. It is far easier and simpler for them to state that you are wrong, rather than face up to the consequences of what you are saying.

    This is also completely the way all religions work – get the gullible person to believe the rubbish you are pushing at them, without any prove or evidence to back it up. When they do start believing this rubbish, get them to deny all other possibilities, regardless of whatever evidence there is one way or the other.

    So don’t be surprised by other people’s reactions to your choice of lifestyle. I firmly believe that 99.999% of everyone brought up in modern civilisation will deny the rightness of the changes you personally want to make. And so they will all claim that it is you who is wrong, and not them. And that you should give it all up and go back to the way they all are. Don’t. Ignore them as the gullible fools they are, and carry on with what you are doing.

    Posted by: John | 08/03/2007

    First, I want to thank you for writing about “The Different Drum.” I checked it out from the library straightaway, and found it to be quite edifying, though I’m sad to see that Peck’s organization that he set up has disbanded since his death. Not surprised, just sad.

    I’d also like to piggyback to what the previous poster said and add that people are getting a payoff out of the denial and gullibility that is endemic to our collective toxiculture. I have lived my whole life having to negotiate when I push and when I flow and when I pull out of the way. Being in recovery helps, but even there I can find some resistance to the things I perceive that we will all have to face.

    The reason I wanted to post however, was because of the last part of your entry, and the “giving up” of the notion of living in a village. It’s so interesting about that phenomenon, and I just wanted to pass on an inspirational film for you to consider. It’s called “Big Eden” and it was made in 2001, directed by Thomas Bezucha. That film, more than anything, has sort of given me a notion of “True North” as it were. It’s kind of accidental about how it seems to pertain to anti-civ stuff, but I’ve watched it 8 times and I’ve cried tears of recognition and deepest longing each time. Take it FWIW.

    Posted by: Richard | 08/03/2007

    Great post, Aaron!

    I feel the limitations of the internet all the time. There are lots of people who think the way I do about stuff, but they live far away. Either in a different state, or in a different country. But the people I’m surrounded by in real life don’t necessarily see things the same way I do. But that’s not entirely bad, methinks. I have friends who knit, so I can knit with them and talk about whatever, even if they don’t “get it” about civilization.

    It would be nice to have both, though.

    Another thing that bothers me about the internet is the lack of civility. People seem to feel that because you aren’t a person sitting in front of them, then you aren’t a person…period…and they spew any manner of vitriol your way.

    As for people not accepting your lifestyle, I can relate. My mother still harps on my getting a washer and dryer. I have a laundry room in my apartment building but I still prefer to just use the bucket-and-plunger method. My mom just can’t wrap her mind around it. And yesterday, my aunt asked me if I had a bed, yet. I have a mattress that sits on the floor, but that freaks people out that I don’t have a box spring and head board. Who needs it? It’s just extraneous crap. What’s wrong with a mattress on the floor or doing laundry by hand in a bucket?

    Posted by: Marcy | 08/03/2007

    John, you’re completely right about the state most people are in, and I am capable of ignoring them and could even survive that way, but it’s so much better to live with proper support.

    Richard, I just thought the links to that organisation were broken but that does explain it. I’ll look for that film but the local video shop in Raglan is pretty limited to say the least.

    Marcy, Was it you who said you weren’t going to have any kids? If so, it’s just as well because if your mother can’t cope with those things you’d probably give her a heart attack with the ‘abnormal’ things you’d do with children

    Posted by: Aaron | 08/04/2007

    Hey, thanks for the honorable mention. I, too, have realized at times I’m blindly following links and typing in weird google searches trying to find some new thought that stimulates me. The flesh and blood humans I come into contact with are overwhelmingly just consumer ants, madly scrabbling for cash and working just as hard to spend it.
    So your trackback led me here and gave me the feeling that somebody else is on the same radio station.
    Namas te,
    comrade simba

    Posted by: comrade simba | 08/05/2007

    Hey Comrade, nice to see you over here

    Posted by: Aaron | 08/06/2007


  2. I too recognize the way the Internet can give just enough to keep me plugged in and away from actual people. I go through times when I have no interest in the Internet, I think as a protective mechanism.

    I recently took my mother-in-law to a homeschool playgroup, mostly to prove to her that my kids socialize (she hates the idea of homeschooling), and she commented that she didn’t expect so many older mothers. She didn’t say “normal-looking” older mothers, but I know that’s what she meant.



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