I do not have an intimate sexual relationship, nor do I have any other types of intimate relationships, aside from maybe my mother.
I see my extended family on special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving. I see my mother and daughter and grandson every couple of weeks.
I almost never spend time 'face to face' socializing with friends unless I'm specifically invited out for coffee or drinks or dinner which occurs about once or twice monthly. Occasionally I instigate it. The rest of my socialization occurs via the internet, often with people I've never met face to face.
I have not been able to maintain stable employment at any time in my life aside from a few golden periods of approximately 3-5 years each.
I spend approximately eight months of every year looking for work.
I have a large debt load across several credit cards that I have been unable to pay off because of a lack of work plus the fact that I often have to use them to survive when I don't have an income.
Are the above circumstances a cause for despair? Sure they are. Are they my fault? Maybe, maybe not. Can I change any of it? I try, but I don't believe so. How do I cope?
I embrace darkness. I have let it take me. It seems no one else will.
Okay, that is the cover story, the scum that rises to the surface, or the outer layers of the onion. The deeper problem that has been created by circumstances is something that I have long suspected has larger social and economic associations.
In a 2001 paper titled The Roots of Addiction in Free Market Society, Bruce K. Alexander argues the dislocation theory of addiction:
In order for “free markets” to be “free,” the exchange of labour, land, currency, and consumer goods must not be encumbered by elements of psychosocial integration such as clan loyalties, village responsibilities, guild or union rights, charity, family obligations, social roles, or religious values. Cultural traditions “distort” the free play of the laws of supply and demand, and thus must be suppressed. In free market economies, for example, people are expected to move to where jobs can be found, and to adjust their work lives and cultural tastes to the demands of a global market.
People who cannot achieve psychosocial integration develop “substitute” lifestyles. Substitute lifestyles entail excessive habits including—but not restricted to—drug use, and social relationships that are not sufficiently close, stable, or culturally acceptable to afford more than minimal psychosocial integration. People who can find no better way of achieving psychosocial integration cling to their substitute lifestyles with a tenacity that is properly called addiction.
My addictions include, but likely are not limited to over eating, coffee, and smoking cigarettes. I can easily get addicted to a television series, work (when its available), a person, love, sex, style, being independent, being dependent, chocolate, not eating, exercise, self-analysis, religion, starting new things, surfing the internet, playing a video game, politics, media frenzy, being nice, being an asshole, meeting new people and being alone. However, I am not addicted to drugs or alcohol.
(when I'm not addicted to being an asshole) I crave to contribute to society. I do art. I suffer. What I do most is hide. I feel ashamed at not being able to live a functional social and economic life. What could I possibly wish for? A better past? A better future? How could I possibly make the present better? How do I make the things I cannot control (love and money) replace my addictions?
Outlook on life is all important. I agree with Mr. Alexander that the roots of addiction are the result of dislocation, both socially and economically. To me, this world is fucked and I've exhausted myself trying to find a cause and affect change in my life and in the lives of those few that I love. I've lost myself in a world of distractions, addictions and coping mechanisms. I'm a dysfunctional product of a socially and economically dysfunctional environment, ad nauseam.
But Mr. Alexander's theories do give me hope. I have always thought there was something very deeply wrong with our culture. I think we've all known it. Actually, when you think about it, there are glaring problems with it that present as problems unrelated to the structure of the culture itself such as the global energy crisis, environmental degradation, religious and political terrorism, drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, and child abuse, to name a few.
I've never ever understood why the 'economy' is more important than the people it supports. An argument of the Conservative Party in Canada, (and all right wing capitalist supporters around the world) is that if we 'take care of the economy, the economy will take care of us.' This theory is as full of holes as the idea that technology will make our lives easier. It hasn't. Think about it this way - machines were made to make doing big or repetitive jobs easier. So those machines replace a few human jobs, right? Aren't those jobs that were lost to the machines now being replaced by jobs to maintain and repair the machines? Not necessarily so. It takes less energy to maintain and repair the machines than it does to do the job without the machine. So a few jobs are lost here and there and before you know it the 20th century has past and our cultural, social and economic structure is in ruin, not to mention the environment.
I think this industrial and technical revolution has run amok. The film "The Matrix" comes to mind.
Gods I could go on and on but for the limitation of my ability. I cannot wrap my head around the gargantuan issue of the ineffective social structure we live in, its failure to support and sustain us, and our imminent demise if we do nothing about it.
But if I am to survive I have to imagine there is at least one thing I could do - I would ask that you think about the relationship between the social and economic society we live in and do what you can to reveal the inadequacies and inefficiencies. We have to do something about reducing the social-economic divide rather than widening it.