I happened upon a book, which happened to address some things I've been
thinking about. It's about both the quantity and quality of our
inter-personal relationships, how important they are to us, how many of
them have been lost, and how we can get them back.
how many people you know for whom it would be ok for them to walk in to
your kitchen and make a sandwich. I bet you could list a
few. I like and trust lots of people at least that well.
But – how many of them are likely to ever be around, in your home, to
take advantage of that, especially on a random Tuesday night? I'd
bet that's pretty long odds.
premise is not hard to swallow: People in developed societies have lost
too many close personal connections. And we know, from experience
and research, people absolutely need these connections – ample data
backs this up, dramatically. Three main areas of loss are
detailed in that book: increased mobility, cultural individualism, and
emotionally numbing distractions (esp. one-way media). Regaining
these connections is not easy – but it is straightforward.
book is called "Refrigerator Rights". The primary author is Dr.
Will Miller, veteran stand-up comedian, ordained minister, professor of
psychology, and practicing psychotherapist. I like the format of
the book. It's annotated with proper citations to serious
research. There are places where one could argue with the
authors, but they encourage it. Every chapter has questions for
the reader, and ends with a summary including questions for
reflection. You are invited to do your own homework!
Here is the opening quiz.
1. As an adult I feel like I have moved my home too many times.
2. Other than those at work, it is hard for me to think of at least two other people to whom I am accountable.
3. I tend to be highly self-reliant.
4. Usually I commute to work alone.
5. I often feel nagging stress.
6. I often feel a sense of dread.
7. I often feel anxious
8. I often feel depressed.
9. I have contemplated suicide.
10. I am reluctant to share my worries with others.
11. There are few people in my life whom I trust.
12. Other than my spouse/partner or children, few people seem to offer me personal affirmation.
13. Other than my spouse/partner or children, few people offer me honest correction.
14. I would say that I am not really emotionally close with people other than my spouse/partner and children.
15. I expend much of my energy in pursuit of career achievement and earning money.
16. I find my greatest satisfaction in my material possessions.
17. In a typical month, no one besides family members visits inside my home.
Wherever I have lived, I would usually have trouble identifying the
last names of my next door neighbors. [no cheating here with
19. Typically, outside of my workplace, I do not belong to a group that meets at least twice each month.
Most of the time, once evening comes, I am too tired to think about
getting together with other people and I would rather just "crash" in
the comfort of my own home.
The authors expect most readers to agree substantially with about half of those statements. What's your count?
following pieces, I'm going to lay out the case for reducing that
count. As much as possible I will write in my own words and use
my own stories. [I could quote all day from the book, but you may
as well buy a copy. It's on the third edition paperback now!]