Is community more powerful than heroin?
"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety.The opposite of addiction is connection."Johann Hari
I saw this quote on my twitter feed and did a double-take; the statement didn't make much sense.
"No," I said to myself, "I am fluent in English and the opposite of addiction IS sobriety."
Of course, if a headline starts an argument in your brain, you're hooked. I had no choice, but to go back and watch the TED talk by Mr. Hari and see what exactly he meant.
After listening, I have to say, along with talks from Brene Brown, Amy Cuddy, and the man who invented 100 different artists, THIS talk is most definitely a favorite. His insights are relevant even if you're not struggling with addiction.
As the talk develops, the crux of his argument is this:
"... a core part of addiction,I came to think, and I believe the evidence suggests,is about not being able to bear to be present in your life."
This thought steps away from the idea of genetics and environment and instead focuses on how bonding with people allows us to bear the weight of life.
His set up is this...
"Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond,and when we're happy and healthy, we'll bond and connect with each other,but if you can't do that,because you're traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life,you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief.Now, that might be gambling, that might be pornography,that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis,but you will bond and connect with something because that's our nature.That's what we want as human beings."
In other words, addiction is often (he never asserts "always") a function of, or intensified by, isolation.
Then he drops a hammer. This section alone is worth watching the talk ...
"I've been talking about how disconnection is a major driver of addictionand weird to say it's growing,because you think we're the most connected society that's ever been, surely.But I increasingly began to think that the connections we haveor think we have, are like a kind of parody of human connection.If you have a crisis in your life, you'll notice something.It won't be your Twitter followers who come to sit with you.It won't be your Facebook friends who help you turn it round.It'll be your flesh and blood friends who you have deep and nuancedand textured, face-to-face relationships with..."
This is truth, my friends.
Your community, not your followers, will be the ones who will sit with you in a crisis.
I stay in community through my church (and if you're local to Atlanta, I definitely encourage you to check out GroupLink in a couple of weeks to connect). I have other friends who are super connected with their neighbors or athletic clubs or work. The key is intentionality (yesterday's topic!).
"The amount of floor space an individual has in their homehas been steadily increasing,and I think that's like a metaphorfor the choice we've made as a culture.We've traded floorspace for friends, we've traded stuff for connections,and the result is we are one of the loneliest societies there has ever been....Something's gone wrong with us, not just with individuals but as a group..."
But let's stop reading the talk and just watch.
If you got nothing else of the talk, think about how life would be if we all lived this out:
"I love you, whatever state you're in,and if you need me, I'll come and sit with youbecause I love you, and I don't want you to be aloneor to feel alone."