We read about one incident of a lunatic shooting people in a theater, a lunatic shooting people at a school, a lunatic crashing jetliners into skyscrapers. Then we conclude that all strangers are lunatics, too dangerous to connect with. So we stay alone, unconnected, and slowly we become a nation of benign lunatics.   

I see that most available jobs in my old counseling career are for helping acting-out children, delinquent teens, or substance-abusing adults. It isn’t hard to see why. Divorcees are grieving, broke, and broken, and posting bizarre “Lost Connections” ads on craigslist – “Strictly Platonic,” “not interested in a one night stand” (at least until the second night). Children are living in stepfamilies they hate and being shuffled across the continent on holidays. Young people are smothering the earliest buds of love under the “miracle grow” of sex, tons of it, and then wondering why the plant dies so early. Elderly people are moving to Oregon so they can exercise their choice to die quickly, humanely, surrounded by love and support, like a dog, instead of slowly, excruciatingly, and alone, like a throw-away human.

We scarcely speak to people outside our own generation, even though every generation has its own wisdom, whatever their age. We have so much to learn from each other. But we don’t ask, speak, or listen.

We are not connecting. “Social Media,” for most of us, is unsocial and anonymous media, another get-famous-quick scheme to distract the unknowns with the illusion that they can use it and be successful, but which only publicizes the names already publicly known.

I am alone. We are alone. But we don’t bother to look each other in the eye. We don’t speak at church. We power-walk by ourselves or with our pets. We don’t even take five seconds to retweet someone else’s thoughts, thereby foregoing an easy connection. We read about one incident of a lunatic shooting people in a theater, a lunatic shooting people at a school, a lunatic crashing jetliners into skyscrapers. Then we conclude that all strangers are lunatics, too dangerous to connect with. So we stay alone, unconnected, and slowly we become a nation of benign lunatics.

We text, tweet, friend, instant-message, email, post anonymous comments. We are the only generation in the history of the world that can, via cyberspace, make a “friend” on the other side of the world and end a friendship instantly, with one mouse click, without making any effort to understand, to work through, to negotiate, to compromise, to grow, to forgive, to explain, to empathize.

And we wonder, without admitting it to others or even ourselves, why we are so terribly alone. Life, real life, is not going on around us everywhere, because so many of us are playing solitaire.    

My new blog will take a fresh and often controversial look at a number of mental health, religious, and relationship issues. You can check it out at MarkMercer.blogspot.com. You will find a version of many of my posts here first on BloggerNews.

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