What Detachment Has Done

At Least It’s Not Me by Gregory Ferrand

Sensationalized headlines have marked our news. Negativity sells almost as well as sex. A frightening headline can turn a head just like an unexpected flash of skin. Shock and awe. Stats and line graphs. Data of the over-informed world.

Remember the Housing Market Crash? Those stats on houses seized by banks! That painful loss in home appreciation! Remember the Recession? Those hundreds of lay-offs, those plants shutting down, and that restructuring! Remember... the most recent presidential election? Gasp. Heaved sigh. Well, I’ve still got my job.

The experts, or those who gauge public opinion and consumer choices, are calling this The Age of Uncertainty. There are seemingly large personalities in charge, making predictably unpredictable choices. We are very much afraid. We don’t know what’s around the bend in the road. We cling to what we have a little more closely. We see injustice and sometimes play the victim. Some of us just carry on as before.

The thing is, there has always been uncertainty. There has always been fear. There has always been injustice. Martha Washington famously reflected that “… the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not our circumstances.” Perspective will always matter more. We are creatures of intellect and choice. What will we do? What will we choose to be? This is all subject to change.

Life’s lessons serve to make us stronger or embittered. What I’ve discovered since the Housing Market Crash: strength and fortitude. I used to think that only a mature person who had everything together could be a homeowner. Now I know that anywhere can be a home. What I’ve discovered since the Recession: humility and faith. Anyone can be handed a pink slip at any time. It’s how we choose to respond and what we do thereafter which matters.

It has been said that the first five years of a child’s life build up or break apart his or her parents relationship. This can be likened to an unsettled economy. Any series of successive stressors can truly strengthen or dissolve a business. I (unwittingly) have a small business, as do friends and family members. We have all been shaken up. There are moments of riding high followed by moments of not making payroll. But with great risk comes great reward. How would you know if you’ve missed a great opportunity or dodged a bullet if you hadn’t tried?

Some of us are a little too safe. Some of us attempt to build cocoons and terrariums. I call them fishbowls of the mind. We make these efforts to try to keep the predictable in and the unpredictable out. Exposure to the unsavory has either happened or it has never happened. Some people are just clueless. Please understand that I do not wish anyone ill. It troubles me to see, to witness, that detachment and cluelessness are pervasive. I’ll extrapolate.

Those stats and line graphs from the news lend toward detachment. They outline, to an information-dense world, quantifiable rather than relatable numbers. Who can grasp debt in the 10 + figures? Who can understand rolling layoffs in the hundreds or thousands? Who can fathom how bank-owned mortgages can turn a home into a zombie house? Only the experts could do something like that. They’re looking at cold, hard numbers.

Life is isn’t a cold, hard number. Life is a layered, complicated thing filled with warm breath and pumping blood. What sensationalized news seldom conveys is what happens to those people who’ve lost their jobs and/or their homes. Where do they go? Did they start over? Are they doing all right now? Well, at least it isn’t me.

I found out the answers to those questions for the people who used to live on my street. Only one in four is still living. The rest were very sick: they couldn’t pay their mortgage and their medical bills. Some moved away to find work. There is a human side to loss. If I had left it at merely numbers, I would begin to lose my humanity.

This, I argue, is where we find ourselves today. We are losing our social skills and how speak to each other. We are losing our humanity and how relate to one another. Saying “at least it’s not me” conveys the attitude of a selfish culture.

I consider myself to be a Millennial. An older Millennial. There are successful ones and there are those who struggle to understand and apply their worth. Many of us came out of undergrad with debt and not enough opportunity for work to pay it off. We lived with many roommates. We lived in our parents basements. We want truth, transparency and authenticity. We also need a job.

More of the under 40 crowd is underemployed or unsatisfied than not. We were sold on changing the world and the cult of the entrepreneur. We kinda got a raw deal. Some of us are victims. Some of us are taking the frustration into production. Some of us actually got a job right out of school and never looked back. We are a blend. A big blend.

This blend wants a chance. We are people, not numbers. We find that middle management positions, which would pay a mortgage so we don’t have to work 3 jobs, are few. We find that working hard and having no life is about it. Kids? We’re lucky if we can have any, we put having them off so long.

We see the vacuum in the economy. We are the forgotten. We are the skilled, educated crowd competing en mass for a handful of opportunities. We see those in the clique moving from job to job. We are told to consider ourselves lucky for getting an interview. We are seeking a better rate of return for our efforts. Until then, it’s ramen again tonight.

#make2017better #ladywriter #not_a_mr