America's Lethal Void of Communal Rituals

As we suck out the everyday poisons of life - sleep deprivation, sweets, caffeine, this or that liquor, erotic media, frivolous internet use, the pursuit of divers young men or women's sexual gifts, cannabinoids or harder drugs, excessive audiovisual stimuli - it becomes harder to connect with our peers, our close friends, and even our family. Many a relationship develops on the collapsible soil foundation of a particular base instinct. The ways we waste our time are so few and universal, so irresistible and enthralling, that they become the default conversational kernel for a budding relationship.

"Hey, you watch How I Met Your Mother?"

"Let's get sloshed!!"

"Did you guys hook up last night?"

"Know where I could find a bowl around here?"

"Do you want to grab coffee this week?"

And so on and so forth. Our lives are filled with cheap drugs, in part because they're the de facto mass rituals of our society. Paradoxically, in such a relatively new, complex, and secular society (here I mean America), the more we advance socially, economically, and technologically, the more we're pushed to sacrifice our longevity for instant gratification. I'm not talking about advertising. I mean we're pushed by others in our flits through the social fabric to bond therein via drugs.

I blame America's newness because it takes a long time of dedicated effort to build public rituals to tie us together and I think that mass media has offered itself and the drugs it pushes to fill that void. As individuals and smaller communities we have readily accepted that offering. I blame its' complexity because the broader we extend, the more we differentiate, and the more narrowly we narrowcast, the lower our least common denominator becomes. And I blame its secularism for the disintegration of powerful and stringent religious rituals which once might have given us enough commonality to avoid defaulting to watching trashy movies and drinking to excess to connect with others.

Unlike usual, I won't put forth an answer because I've only just thought of the question: How do we as individuals seeking to shuffle off these intoxicating burdens maintain our connections with our friends and families at the same time we mean to escape the draws on which those relationships were founded? The fact that I choose to no longer eat sweets does not decrease my love for the friends I made looking over the dessert table, but it does make it hard to transition to a healthier life.

What has happened, for me, at least, is that I've stalled in my personal progress rather than risk losing my friends. I'd love to hear any suggestions.