Outer Limits — Real Life

“Today, one of the best predictors of one’s political orientation is the density of the neighborhood they live in; people who live in the suburbs are also more likely to get their news from broadcast and local television. Taken together, this means suburbanites see fewer strangers in their everyday lives, and fill that void with sensationalized accounts of ever-present, creeping danger.

This creates fertile ground for reactionary, conservative political movements. While most suburbanites still get a majority of their news from these older media sources, more of them are getting it from apps like Facebook and Nextdoor, where the ideas broadcast through outlets like Fox can fester person-to-person. In this way the suburbs get the social functions of the city street, but with suburban-style tools of control and segregation.”

—David A. Banks, “Outer Limits.” Real Life. June 20, 2019.

Something that occurs to me is that the prevalence of far-right conservative ideas among the 65 and older set in the United States might be a symptom of loneliness.

If you have few friends and little social connection, are unemployed, and are considered a marginal Other, you might start looking for belonging wherever you can find it. A Ku Klux Klan outfit might give a sense of relevance back to a person who has grown old and has no experience with being marginalized.

Secondhand Lonely

“‘Show? To who? Girl, I got my mind. And what goes on in it. Which is to say, I got me.’

‘Lonely, ain’t it?’ Nel’s question sticks out in my mind like the point of an index finger toward a shameful secret unfurled before a judgmental public. Lonely, ain’t it.

‘Yes. But my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.'”

—Toni Morrison, Sula. New York: Knopf, 1976, parts quoted in Zoë Gadegbeku, “My Secondhand Lonely,” Slice. Spring/Summer 2017. Reprinted on Longreads.com.

Much worth thinking about in Zoë Gadegbeku’s piece. For me, the deeply personal account obscures some points that could be made about the presentation of self, moving beyond romantic love and including alienation within larger communities, and so forth. But, I empathized with much that was said here even though I have a much different background.

Ave Maria Bamford: The Gift of Mental Illness, aka Looking at The Bright Side of Life

Maria Bamford on Mental Illness, Climate Change, Losing, Dying Young, Addiction, Being a Single Mother, Relationship Failure, Financial Ruin, Loneliness and Unspeakable Tragedy. Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it? And it is! Once the Joneses hear about the advantages of mental illness, everyone’s going to want it.

Want more good news? You probably already have a mental illness. Luckily, there’s probably a prescription medication that’s just right for you. Ask your doctor!

https://www.topic.com/ave-maria-bamford/ave-maria-bamford-the-gift-of-mental-illness

The Lonely Middle Aged Man

“Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation…Beginning in the 1980s, Schwartz says, study after study started showing that those who were more socially isolated were much more likely to die during a given period than their socially connected neighbors, even after you corrected for age, gender, and lifestyle choices like exercising and eating right. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer’s. One study found that it can be as much of a long-term risk factor as smoking.”

—Baker, Billy. “The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.Boston Globe. March 9, 2017.