This is our truth, tell us yours
When I was a baby sub Carter sometimes used to send me surprises in the post. Being the master of teasing that he is I was not always allowed to open them, so I would sit, wondering with anticipation, and not a litle dread, what they contained. Some parcels I was able to open, and so it was the case with a selection of butt plugs. Ripping of the brown paper there was certainly excitement, and yes, some nerves. In this state I cast aside what I assumed were a pack of condoms and wondered if this new toy would ever “fit”. If I had looked more closely I would have noticed that in fact he had also sent a box of lubricant.
Have you ever tried to insert a buttplug without lube, and with little idea of exactly how it is meant to go in? I would not recommend it.
There is a point to this other than giving people the opportunity to laugh at my lack of knowledge and incompetence. Today if a similarly naive me was in the same position I would have a community I could go to for advice, its called twitter. Pretty sure that within minutes of asking I would be made aware that lube was kind of useful, and maybe even gone and checked box I discarded in my excitement.
Communities matter. Hardly radical, however we tend to assume they exist in places we are used to, or will always exist unchanging. The reality is that community, like everything else is a constantly changing and evolving concept, and in that movement, that change, some are left outside. There are parallels here to what has been happening with gamergate. It is of course a long time since games have been nerdy or outside of mainstream culture. The successful jock is as likely to play COD as the boy he bullies for being a geek. However a group defined their community by certain ideas, and now feel as if the place the go to for support has been vandalized, and destroyed. It may be hard to empathise with them, but unless you understand this, you will never understand the anger. The fear of being alone is a huge one.
Or to look at a totally different demographic, a study was published recently that said that older men in the UK were the most lonely.
Widower Dick O’Brien, 77, from Reading, told BBC News he has 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren but they are “busy with their own lives” and he sometimes has no visitors for days.
He has tried going to clubs but says: “For some unknown reason I just don’t fit in. It makes me feel older than I am.
“I socialise best when I am on my scooter, when I’m having a chat to anyone on the road.
“When I’m out people think, ‘He’s a happy old soul.’
“I am, but you are coming back to an empty house.
“It’s very, very lonely. And you think why do I bother? You know it’s worth bothering. Of course it’s worth bothering but it’s depressing. It’s very depressing. It gets to you.
It makes heartrending reading. Of course a generation ago there were whole communities for older men based around the workplace, the working mens clubs, miners clubs and factory teams which provided a place of belonging.
Women in the report are seen as having more links with various communities, keeping that loneliness at bay, however as we push the idea ones worth and value in society only comes via paid employment onto women I think that is a dying idea. I grew up with various “aunties” as many working class children did. Women you were not related too but who were at the center of the community. The same women who cleaned the church, who were known as available, and willing to put on community events and create that sense of belonging. Now women are growing to be as likely as men to be isolated from their neighbours, to face retirement with nothing more than the slow tick of the retirement clock counting out the lonely hours.
We cannot expect anything but loneliness when we remove most of the structures that used to provide community. The challenge we now face is how to invent new structures, not just the marketing one the report mentions, but new ways to combat loneliness and isolation, and that must also include the net, social media, the twenty-first century hubs where we can go, be it for buttplug advice or help when we are lonely and depressed.