A modern malady

Monday, March 11, 2019

Dear Editor,

It's now possible to order almost everything we need from Amazon and similar sites, and have our groceries and pharmaceuticals delivered to our door and fulfill our pets' needs on chewy.com without leaving home.

The advent of these circumstances are certainly convenient, a tremendous timesaver with practically the next day service, but is in progress?

Our children have technology at their service at school as they learn, can be instantaneously in touch on Facebook, by texting or through Twitter. But it seems that they may find likes on facebook more enticing than an honest-to-goodness friend. They now have the capacity to be alone together.

Ben Sasse's new book called "Them" is not about politics. Them acknowledges that for the most part, we are the richest, most comfortable and most connected people in human history. Yet while we live in the midst of prosperity for most, we seem to be in a crisis. Our communities are collapsing and people are feeling more isolated and purposeless than ever before.

We want to blame it on someone, and most often we blame it on politicians. At least then, we can feel a connection, because we have the same enemies. But Sasse believes he has found evidence it's about something deeper and more personal.

In spite of technological advances, life expectancy has decreased for the third year in a row. The 2016 data points to three culprits: Alzheimer's, suicides and unintentional injuries a category that covers drug and alcohol-related deaths. Sasse finds a convincing amount of data that supports that the underlying cause is loneliness.

Because Baby Boomers left their communities to find suitable employment and the longstanding effects of the industrial revolution, it was no longer possible to raise children in a community where everybody knows everyone. The effects were hard on the integrity of the American family.

The fatherlessness of black families in the 1960s and the same effects of divorce becoming so prevalent at the present time, -- children don't have the guidance they need to warn them they are getting off course. He likened it to the lack of warning bumps on the side of the road or the luxury of shoulders along the road, made up of family, friends, neighbors, mentors or professionals to keep youngsters on the right path. Turning to peers, drugs and gang mentality are poor substitutes.

The author sees the causal factor or our modern angst to be simply, yet profoundly, that of loneliness. Research has inaugurated loneliness on well-being. Scientists are now showing that loneliness affects the brains and bodies of millions of people. Many people who think they are depressed may instead be experiencing loneliness.

Add to the mix our anxious wondering what the technological revolution will do to the face of society.

In addition, more and more Baby Boomers are coming into advanced age or coping with living alone. Some of their loneliness seems unavoidable.

What is the antidote and the proper dosage to treat this malady?

Perhaps it's a return to the basics. We need faith in God. He promises to never leave us or forsake us.

Join a church or group that can, with time, result ina feeling of connectedness or community. Be a giver in many ways and it will come back to you. Maybe something as simple as getting a dog or cat will be good for your physical or mental health.

And remember, that just because we cannot see what's just around the corner, doesn't mean it will be disastrous or detrimental to us all, or society would have ended long ago. We don't like change

Janine Hall Pattenburg,

McCook, Neb.

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