Have You Ever Struggled With “Mormon Depression”?

*DISCLAIMER* Don’t judge the Mormon’s based on this article! They are great and amazing people. The doctrine is powerful and the teachings can help anyone whether you believe them or not. This is simply a message to those who are already members of the church in hopes to help better ourselves.

I grew up in the church, was baptized at the age of 8, ordained a Deacon at 12, a Teacher at 14, and a Priest at 16. I served my mission in Buenos Aires Argentina. I was a District Leader, a Zone Leader, baptized people, and then came home to attended BYU-Idaho. After a few semesters I left school to join the Marine Corps, got out and now I’m working in Boise. I was what you could call a “standard” member of the church. I was pure in the eyes of everyone who knew me, I had lived the law of chastity, obeyed the word of wisdom, and yet underneath it all I was this angry young man tormented by an anguish of overwhelming guilt and deep sadness. It took me 21 years before I finally asked myself “Why am I always sad?”

How could anyone who was a member of the church feel so unhappy? And how could I have not realized it? I didn’t feel loved, pure, or righteous. In fact, I felt far from it, which seemed like the complete opposite as to what Christ said we should feel when we try to follow him. After speaking with tons of members, friends, and family itt is now my belief that many members struggle with a hard combination of deep depression, guilt, shame, and confusion to which I have given the name “Mormon Depression”. I gave it that name because I won’t and can’t believe that I am the only one who has ever felt the way I did, struggled with an emotional roller coaster, or constantly felt guilty things out of my control and always making mistakes, and so hence the purpose for why I am writing this article.

I am about to turn 28, I am a divorced Mormon, and I am struggling to stay active. This makes me pretty much the worst candidate for marriage in any singles ward. I look back at the last 10 years of my life and wonder how I got here, and stunned at how much different it is than how I had imagined it to be. I once dreamed that by this age I would be working on a Masters Degree, maybe living in a house I bought, taking care of three kids and a gorgeous wife. We would go to church every Sunday, have Family Home Evening on Mondays, and I would have an awesome calling as a Scout leader. I never once saw myself sitting in the back of a Singles Ward as an old man, trying to spark conversations with women way to young for me, and playing church ball with a bunch of younger faster more in shape “Pre-Mi’s”.

Some might consider this a really bad situation, like a guy trying to defuse a bomb before time runs out. But, in reality, I wouldn’t change a thing. For the first time in my life I am happy, I am thrilled to be alive, and I am nowhere near as stressed as I use to be. What’s ironic, is my current outlook on life was developed over the last 6 years with the help and inspiration of others who are nowhere near being Mormon. I now realize things about myself, opened my eyes, and changed to the person I am today. I was sad because there were things I was not grasping, not seeing, and not understanding. These were things I couldn’t grasp, see, or understand because I was like the prisoner in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. The chains that held me and ultimately lead me into that deep depression for most of my life stemmed from a physiological cluster. A cluster of shadows  that could have easily been revealed if only I had known what I now refer to as the 4 Struggles of Mormons.

FIRST STRUGGLE:

We Judge, and WANT to be Judged: It doesn’t matter what you tell me, how you say it, or what language you say it in, I will always be skeptic of anyone who tells me they are “non-judgmental”. Frankly, I don’t believe anyone CAN be ‘non-judgmental”, simply because judgement is our key to survival, spirituality, and knowledge. Without judgement you could never compare services, products, or people to count on.

Just because we need to judge SOME things doesn’t mean we must judge ALL things. We Mormons are some of the MOST judgmental people that I have ever encountered, and that’s crazy considering I’ve met thousands of people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Some of the most knowledgeable, well-spoken, and kindest people I have ever met were actually from different faiths. Which should scare anyone who claims to be a member the one true church.

What do I mean by judging? Well, we do it so inconspicuously that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. For example, when I attended BYU-Idaho it was customary to stand up in front of the class and tell everyone who you were, where you were from, and where you served your mission. If you didn’t tell the class, then it appeared you were not marriage material, you were young, or that you weren’t allowed go because of past mistakes. None of those options are considered a good thing when you are surrounded by pretty Mormon girls looking to settle down.

We put such high standards on others that when we ourselves fail to meet them we subconsciously believe we are horrible people unworthy of happiness. And why should we not feel terrible? It seems all that’s ever taught is that we are sinners and the whole purpose of life to constantly be repenting. Especially when we hear fellow members and leaders ask questions like “Why didn’t he serve?”, “Why did he come home early from his mission?”, “Why don’t they have kids yet?”, or “Why isn’t he/she married?”.

Ask any single adult above the age of 23 “Why are you still single?”. Watch as they try not to roll their eyes, try to hide their frustration, and reply with either a short angry “I don’t know.” or a long drawn out explanation of excuses because they feel as if they need to explain why they are so called “failing” at life. Even if you don’t truly feel that way, or intend to sound judgmental, I promise you we all assume that you are asking because we don’t seem to be following basic Mormon 101. We normally get use to it by about the age of 26, but I’ve seen it sour a lot people into leaving the church, and speaking out against it. Now, just because becoming angry is our own conscious decision does not make it okay to lack respect and love for others.

I’ve seen MANY members post articles on their Facebook pages in an effort to be an example and attempt to promote LDS standards. By doing so, many fail to realize that by speaking as a member they are speaking on behalf of EVERY Mormon, whether they meant to or not. Which can make those who fail to meet the expectations of those articles feel less of a person for it. Titles such as “Hey Young People: Now’s the Time to Get Married” or “Think before you Ink”, both of which are actual titles of actual posts I’ve seen and read from Facebook status updates. Most likely, people don’t post these articles with the intention to be judgmental, but that’s exactly what it is and how it feels when you are the one targeted in the article as the “bad example”.

There are also many of us posting the popular “I am Mormon” phrase because we WANT to be judged, we’ve been taught to be judged, to be seen, and to let others view our lives as examples of righteousness. We hide the bad and highlight the good, because heaven forbid anyone post an article about truly struggling with something real. Especially when that something is porn, drug addictions, or depression. Most Mormons can’t even be honest with their parents, spouses, or church leaders because they fear the social repercussions more than they fear the eternal ones. So, instead IF we decide to show weakness and attempt to appear a little human its usually with something like “I’ll drink a coke from time to time“, or “I woke up late for church” or “Sometimes I yell at my kids, but I’m not perfect“.

When we teach the youth to go on missions, get married, and start families we have a really bad tendency to do it in such positive connotation that it underlines the negative in a bold fashion and can make others feel of lesser value. When we teach that success in life is measured by doing these things, then we are saying to those who haven’t, that they have failed or are failing. Reverse judgement is still judgement and it can hurt just as bad, if not worst. Just because we served missions, got married, or have children does not mean we are better people, more blessed, higher ranking, or more righteous than anyone else. Judgement is a double edge sword, and the reason we struggle with it so much is because we tend to show a lot more love and support towards the righteous rather than the sinners. We have mission fair-wales, receptions, and baby blessings.

Once a week we all bow our heads and partake in the sacrament and then go right back to the agenda like nothing happened. The SINGLE most important thing at church, and the MAIN reason we even go is hardly treated with as much importance as we show to the activities of that week. We get so excited to hear a missionary’s homecoming talk, yet how often do we have the same excitement and show the same support towards the sacrament? Without realizing it we are sending signals to people who didn’t serve missions, and worse we are teaching the youth that they aren’t as important if they don’t serve. As much as we want and know whats best for others it is not our place to make decisions for them, to make them feel forced, or as if they have no choice.

SECOND STRUGGLE: 

We Make Excuses. The one I’m sure we’ve all heard many times and probably said once or twice is “Judge the church not the people”, or how often have you heard “They aren’t ready for the gospel yet.”? The one I cant stand is “We do things we don’t understand because we have to have faith”. All of these, in my opinion, are keeping the ship from being able to rise up to its full potential. These are the type of leaks that we are constantly trying to patch up.

Most people I meet who have left, or are struggling, with the church usually leave for one of three reasons, They were hurt or offended by someone in the church, they don’t want to live by the rules of the church, or they don’t understand certain things about the church.

When someone has one of these “doubts” we make an excuse as if its out of our control and its all their fault. But we have to think,

  • 1: People ARE going to judge the members before they even start to investigate the doctrine, so if we run off the mindset that the doctrine covers our backs in our own ignorance, then we are the ones who are truly lost. If we know there is a problem, then we need to fix it, and that doesn’t mean just trying to set an example. It means we have to apologize in our actions and words, and work to make it right for that person. As members, we are part of something, hence the title “member“, and that means its OUR responsibility to make right what others in our organization may have done wrong. Telling a disgruntled “less active member” that he/she should “Judge the church not the people” is pretty much the same as telling them, “Well its your fault you feel this way, so get over it. We are allowed to be terrible people and we don’t care”. If we truly love them, then we HAVE to show them that. Sometimes all they really need is to feel welcomed, invited, and they need to know its because we care and love them NOT because we think they should or its the “rule”. The church is not a club intended for perfect people, its a support group meant to help each other as we struggle with life’s challenges.
  • 2: The reason people don’t want to live by the “rules” of the church is because that’s exactly how they are taught and perceived, as “rules”. We act as if the recommend interview questions are the requirements to join our club rather than a way for us to help evaluate ourselves within a supporting organization. I will be first on the front lines to admit that growing up I knew that there were things I just wasn’t allowed do, and if I did, then I would be in huge trouble with my parents and with the bishop. I cant even imagine being a teenage boy and having to tell my peers that I’m not allowed to pass the sacrament because I’m a sinner. As a child I’m sure it feels like you are being publicly humiliated in front of everyone, so I’m confident that the majority of youth who need help will not seek it for fear of what others may think. These poor kids, when they break a “rule” obviously didn’t understand the principle behind it, and instead of trying to help them, we penalize them in a very physiologically negative and disturbing way.
  • 3: We fail to see the icebergs that silently sit below us all. We tend to believe that since we’ve served missions, grew up in the church, or have a calling that we already understand what we need to know, and that the rest is just details. This is probably the most difficult thing for me to deal with when I go to church, and it’s usually why I go home angry afterwards, rather than at peace like I should feel. What do I mean by this? Well, it feels like, and I could be wrong here, that most members follow the principles of the gospel without ever trying to understand them. We have a mindset as members that as long as we know the Church is true, then we don’t need to understand it, instead we believe that all we need is to know the principles and to obey them.

While obedience is important, its not arbitrary or an irrational obligation given by God because he wants us be his puppets. There is a purpose behind every law and principle ever given. When we understand, I mean FULLY understand it, then we EASILY obey it because it makes sense for why we should. We can be obedient our whole lives and never touch a scorching surface, but once we feel that surface we understand why we shouldn’t touch it, and that burning heat will keep us from ever doing it again. Understanding the “why” of when heat hurts is much different than just acknowledging it as a danger because someone told us it was.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29
    • “26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
    • 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
    • 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
    • 29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with a doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.”

We don’t actively seek to understand the Principles of the Gospel, and tend to focus more on “deep doctrine” or things that are far beyond relative or important in our moment of time. I try and put myself in other people’s shoes and I cant imagine what I would think if I went into an LDS church and they started singing “If I Could Hie To Kolob”. I’d probably pull out my phone, Google “kolob”, read three sentences, then get up and walk out as quickly as I could.

To illustrate where I’m getting at is, we need to study the Principles of the Gospel in order to better understand why weare to be obedient to them. For example: The Word of Wisdom doesn’t just state the “donts” it also teaches that we should eat meat sparingly, that we should eat grains, fruits, and vegetables, and that we should exercise often. It also states we should not use illegal drugs or harmful and addictive substances. So what makes it okay to tell others that drinking beer is a sin, but its okay to chug a Red Bull everyday before work, or stuff our faces with Big Macs? Is that really any different then having a cup of coffee? I’m not saying ALL members are like this, but I feel many of us don’t ask the question “why?” as often as we probably should. To those who look at the church from the outside in it appears as if we are very hypocritical and it makes sharing the gospel all that more difficult. We should be explaining how to find happiness through Christ, teaching how to love others, and NOT ever have to be focusing on explaining why its okay to drink Mountain Dew but not Coffee, or some silly loop hole to a principle because we never took the time to try and understand it for ourselves.

THIRD STRUGGLE:

We claim to be charitable as we sit in our great and spacious buildings: While in the Marines, or on my mission, I would often brag to others about how much money the church has because of tithing and how we use it to do so much good in the world. I felt this was a great selling point to illustrate the truthfulness of it all. But it became increasingly difficult to feel that way as I traveled around the world and witnessed things that truly broke my heart. I saw a lady jump in front of a train because her life was too much for her to handle. I saw homes made of cardboard, large families sharing single rooms smaller than my bathroom in a community living space. I witnessed people drinking water they shared with animals and that many Americans would gag on at just the site or smell of it. The more I saw the world for what it truly is the more guilty I began to feel. I felt ashamed for ever wishing I had my own car in high school, my own room, and even my own clothes.

Suddenly I felt dirty inside to have ever believed it was okay to have the best stuff because I was “blessed” and deserved it for my obedience. I felt ashamed for every believing that I was worth more than someone simply because of what I was wearing on my back, where I went to school, and what country I was from. Then like a thousand bricks piling on top of me the internal questions began to come, “How can members claim to be charitable when we live in some of the nicest homes I have ever seen?”, “How come our Church buildings have to be so elaborate, expensive, and beautiful, when some of its own members are living in conditions America would of had lawsuits over?” It started to rain on my soul with internal doubts about my own faith, and my own beliefs. Would Jesus live in a nice home? Would he really want us to spend so much on a church building? Would Jesus let others suffer from the cold as they slept, or drink dirty water? Would Jesus wear an expensive suit and tie to church, shave his face, and show up in a 2014 financed car?

Why does it become okay to ignore the people who suffer as long as we give our 10%?

Jesus once told a group of people who tried to trick him about paying taxes to which he replied “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s”. I don’t believe this principle is just applied to taxes, but also our lives. If we are truly the Lords servants then we need to give up some of the things we have, and cease to justify why its okay to have them. I’m not saying I’m perfect, or that I don’t have faults, because trust me I have way more than I could ever handle. But it is obvious that we as members are struggling with things that would probably make most pioneers roll over in their graves if saw how selfish and greedy we are today.

FOURTH STRUGGLE:

Preach the Gospel but only to each other: I’m hoping this has gotten better since I was kid, because this is one of those bitter subjects that still irks me to this day. This is one of the most influential reasons to why I left BYU-Idaho to join the Marines. Why is it, that the church is centered around sharing the gospel, yet we encourage our members to go to a college where only Mormons go, to live in communities where only Mormons live, and to be friends with only Mormons? Surely it’s not because we we assume Mormons are the only ones who have standards?

Jesus didn’t spend his time walking around with people who already understood the Gospel, he walked around with sinners, befriended sinners, and loved sinners. I have a hard time understanding the idea that we are allowed to make eternal promises at the age of 8, but we are not wise enough to have friends who live different life styles than us. If we truly believe that a child can determine right from wrong, and understand sin, then we should be showing our faith in them that they will make choices according to what they understand. Imagine if the Lord told someone they weren’t invited over because they didn’t believe in him.

I live in a city that is heavily populated by Mormons, yet the LDS Institute is one of the scarcest institutes programs I have ever been a part of. I live in Boise, and my institute classes in Pensacola Florida, Denver Colorado, and Okinawa Japan were taken much more seriously and had much more participants which should be a shock considering the per capita of Mormons here compared to those places. It pains me to see so many young members think they have to travel to Utah to for school so they can get married. It’s feels unfortunate that the church which is so orchestrated around its missionary work has a majority of members that not only allow but encourage other members to leave their cities that need need the most help so they can group together in isolation. Please if you are reading this, and you are trying to decide which school to go to STAY LOCAL, or go to a the BEST college you can get into!

As for me, I understand that the issues I have with the church are in fact that, my issues. I just ask to those who may have read this far, that we try harder to love people, try harder to understand people, and try harder to accept people, regardless of what they believe, how they were raised, or what they do in their spare time. We need to focus on the basics of our Gospel before we start to teach the things that really don’t matter yet. There is no reason a lesson at church should be about anything but Christ, focused around his message, and how LOVE is the center of it all. Be open to people and don’t take life so seriously all the time. There’s no reason a child, young adult, or adult shouldn’t be able to ask for help and guidance without feeling like he is going to be condemned, humiliated, or judged by any of us.

PLEASE can we try to focus more on the good news rather than the bad when teaching or discussing with others about the gospel (goods news). People are struggling with deep rooted issues of overwhelming guilt because it feels like all we ever talk about in the church is repentance, and if you’re not constantly repenting then you’re doing it wrong. While repentance is very important, we should also understand that mistakes, sins, and bad judgments  are going to happen. Instead of looking at them as something so negative lets help each other see the positive in it all and learn from it. There is NO REASON ANYONE sitting in the congregation should ever feel unwelcome, unloved, or unworthy to be there. 

We are all Gods children, he loves us all the same, and if we can learn to love others as Jesus loved us then we might just be alright.

Grab a life vest, “ships” ’bout to go down.

Picture a boat in the ocean, it’s surrounded by hundreds of other boats, but this boat represents England. One day our Captain decided he needed more fish because what he had wasn’t enough. So he placed a tax on everyone in his boat to give him over half the fish they caught or go to jail. If for whatever reason they didn’t catch any fish, then they were required to give up more next time.

The crew was outraged by this so they abandoned the ship and built their own. In the beginning our boat was solid, built with the finest wood you could imagine, crafted by brilliant artists and soaked in a deep pine oil leaving it with a finish so smooth you could see your own reflection. Instead of having just one Captain who controlled everything, we established a committee that would help regulate the rules and regulations of the boat. This committee would be chosen based on the votes of its crew in an election. It was nice, because for the first time in our history there was a boat whose crew was in control of its own destination. We could decide what was right and was wrong, chose our own journey, and we had established the most brilliant concept the ocean had ever seen…freedom.

We could look out across the deep water and watch all the other boats bound by the Captains who controlled them. Some of the boats were bigger, others small, but it didn’t matter because we had the one thing they didn’t, the ability to choose for ourselves. It was amazing, and something we slowly started to take for granted. While our boat and others like it were made of wood, others were made of steel, and some were even made with whatever they could find floating in the ocean.

As the years went on, our committee became more powerful, and the leaders began to lose sight of their overall jobs. We started to look at them as Captains rather than litigators, but that was okay, as long as we got to pick the Captains. We then decided that wood was too difficult to maintain, and was a limited resource to continue constructing with. There were so many people coming from all over the ocean to join up with our crew and we needed solutions fast.

We stopped building with wood, and instead used a new invention called “plastic”. “This was brilliant!” we thought, because plastic is made of oil, and oil is everywhere, and a much easier commodity to use. The only real issue was that plastic was still dense and could easily sink given the right circumstances. So to counter act it, we wrapped the plastic into a raft and filled it with air. This meant we could always continue to grow and never have to worry.

Soon, the expansion of the raft required more and more air and it was beginning to turn into a constant twenty four hour process of operations. The committee decided that it would require all crew members to participate in taking turns blowing air into the valves and patching up any small holes. Some worried this would grow into a never ending cycle, but it didn’t matter because it was still nicer than what we had, and it provided a lot more cushion. Not to mention, it was much easier to maintain after rough storms, or when capsized.

We would often feel sympathetic for the other boats who were faced with worse conditions, and having less access to resources. So, we decided to help them out. We attached these little rafts they could use whenever times got hard. The air came straight from our boat into theirs so that we could control their pressure and maintain amounts. This meant that they never had to provide their own air or contribute any time to helping, and in turn it would provide us with submissive pawns, more resources and an advantage in the overall game we seemed to be playing. Some call it the “Global Market Game”, others call it the “Basic Economics Game”, but I just usually refer to it as “Ocean Domination”. Still, the important fact remained true, air was free, it’s all around us, and it always will be. It’s not like we could ever run out of air or anything, we’d be fine.

Everything was bought with “air”. This meant you could offer your time of supplying air in exchange for objects you wanted. It was difficult when you wanted something you couldn’t afford, but we made due with what we had, and saved what we could at the “Air Banks”. That was until they developed this really neat concept of giving you a certain amount of “fake air” that they valued equal to actual air in exchanged for more air.

How’s does this work you ask? This seems complicated and kind of like a scam… Don’t worry it’s not, it’s actually really simple. For example: If someone wanted a new car, the bank would give the seller the amount of “air” he or she wanted for it, and in exchange the buyer had to promise to give the back the air over a period of time plus extra air called “interest”. It was a way for the banks to get more air while helping others get what they wanted.

Our raft grew so much that most people just started calling it a ship. Everyone could see us all from all sides of the ocean. We were mighty, strong, and painted with brilliant colors that shadowed over all the other boats below. It grew so big that we lost sight of the water, and it felt as if we were just sitting on land. Most of our passengers didn’t even know the names of other boats, especially the ones that weren’t big enough to see. But who cares right? I mean why is it important to worry about the small rafts drifting in our wake? It wasn’t effecting us, so why worry?

Our committee started to notice that certain crew members were unable to contribute as much, and it was effecting the overall moral of the ship. So they started issuing rules for special circumstances which meant you could contribute less. The rest of the crew members would have to pick up the extra shifts and fill the needs that had to be met. We agreed on it because it made sense, why make someone work who physically cant? There were a lot of rules that began like this and no one really asked questions. After all the committee had to be smarter than its crew right? We also had this new “air credit” thing which was helping us feel established as members of the crew.

But soon, the need for air and patch recovery became overwhelming. Sections of the ship were shredded with garbage, pirates, and other terrible things. Some of our own crew members refused to contribute, which meant we had to pick up the extra slack, and work longer hours. Many of the crew members would start to get light headed and dizzy, so the committee started established more rules for the workers so they also had certain rights and privileges.

They started adding more and more programs that costed more and more air to help solve the hundreds of problems springing up as fast as the leaks in the boat. It became this overwhelming need for fairness between the crew and the committee so that no one was required to contribute more than the weakest member. We had committees within committees who worked for committees while new committees were being formed each day. We started to borrow equipment, supplies, and air from the other boats so that we could just stay afloat. It wasn’t that we were technically “out of air”, we were just out of people willing to supply it. All in the meantime, letting those who didn’t want to use one of our many programs be allowed limitations to their work load.

We tried to budget how much air the ship would need each year, and in theory it was nice, but the reality was blurry. To say how much air we would of liked to use was not the reality of what we actually needed. The crew was exhausted, we couldn’t even see the ocean anymore. Not because of prohibiting physicality   problems, but because we weren’t free anymore, and our committee had taken over the ship.

Today, if you were to look down at the chaos from the crow’s nest, you will see hard working people scrubbing the deck, tightening the sails, lowering the anchors, cooking the food, filling the valves, fighting the pirates, loading the canons, calculating the air, building the ship, repairing the damages, and thousands of others tired from doing all they can just to keep this ship afloat. It seems awfully sad that the crew has now become enslaved to their own greed and ignorance, yet that is still not the saddest view of the ship. Let me take you somewhere else.

If you were to go down below the deck you would see the true horror that has become of this once beautiful vessel sailing in the ocean. There’s a dark emptiness that swallows you up into its cold abyss. The air is so thick and filled smoke, burning oil, and the filthy stench to a rotting mass of people bathing in their own laziness. It has become so instantly addictive that you quickly forget what the light once looked like, and the what the air once felt like against your face. You become a zombie-like droid lured into to the belief we are victimized by the darkness of uncontrollable circumstances.

The rooms are overfilled with people who contribute nothing and spend most of their days staring into some kind an illusion they believe to be reality. It traps them into this idea that mimics life, while secretly dulling their will to progress. The mood quivers into your bones shaking a sense of misery masked by the lies that simulate happiness. If the lights were to suddenly turn on there would be thousands of people scattering like cockroaches to jump ship in fear of their own reflection.

Some of them claim that there are no valves to fill, others say their lungs are too weak to be useful. Some of them don’t ever care if the boat sinks while others don’t even realize they ARE below the deck. Some people work effortlessly on things that contribute to nothing and pretend that it’s all for the greater cause. There are some who claim they have so much to do in their own lives that it’s impossible for them to contribute to the mass.

Our boat is sinking, and it’s sinking fast. We owe more air than physically possible to breathe. The crew members blame the committee and the committee blames the crew, then the crew blames the crew and the committee blames the committee. We would much rather sit down, point fingers, argue, and pick sides rather than step up and do what needs to be done. The plastic was a good idea at first, but we are quickly running out of air, and it’s only a matter of time before we become too dense to stay afloat. Grab a life vest, “ships” about to go down.

Now to the real horror:

By the end of the next Fiscal Year the total government debt in the United States, including federal, state, and local, is expected to be $21,897,000,000,000. That means each United States Citizen (316.1 million people) would have to pay $69,272 each to just to pay off what we already owe. The average income PER HOUSEHOLD (Not per person) is about $50,000.

This lead to my next question, “What on EARTH are we paying for that would cost that much?”

If someone you knew asked you to co-sign on a car for $100,000 with a 20% annual interest rate and they didn’t have job, then you would probably laugh at them, and then laugh again. Our government is co-signing YOU UP to a much larger loan and a much higher interest rate everyday. Let’s fix this before we sink.

Millions Infected Without Knowing

I’m starting to wonder if people are so bored that they are willing to protest almost any issue up for debate, or if we truly believe in the junk science strung out by the media, web, and status updates. I wonder why we even listen to the absurd garbage written by people with no repertoire of the fields they carelessly destroy. In today’s world just having a website makes you an expert and a quotable source of legitimate evidences to support any issue promoted in today’s media.

We have become so self-absorbed in our own illusions of “individuality” that we are failing to see our zombie like confirmation to the swaying body we call “society”. No longer are we encouraged to think outside the box, develop our own opinions, or be tolerant of other people’s views. We have chosen to pick sides with our own disconcerted issues and join together in an effort to destroy the contrary.

My blog is not dedicated to a specific opinion in which I stand founded upon, but instead I strive towards the idea of encouraging us to think differently and ask questions. I find it ironic that there are always comparable proofs to defend any valid opinion, yet we strive to make everything seem so black and white.

Guns, abortion, wars, politics, vaccines, security, religion, and many of these issues flowing in our news feeds should never be so easily disregarded as to allude the idea of a simple solution. The reality is, none of these things are truly simple, and it takes more than just a few words posted on our wall to sincerely illustrate a view point. It is up to us to work TOGETHER in an effort to destroy the gray and clear the “colors of opposition”, so that we can get see the bigger picture.

Now, I understand that we don’t live in a magical fairyland where everyone plays patty cake, rides unicorns, and eats candy for dinner. But for those who aren’t absorbed in their own self-coagulated drama will understand where I’m coming from. This Nation has fallen into the hands of a narcissistic viewpoint that gracefully destroys us in a blinding fashion, while hindering our progression, and disabling our ability to figuratively breathe freely.

It goes beyond the attacks that are often associated with social media. It’s not just about the selfies, hashtags, and friend requests. These roots run much deeper into a physiological need for attention, and an overwhelming obsession with money. Now like my first paragraph states, I’m not here to offer junk science or even quote medical professionals on any issue. I’m simply pointing out an obvious conclusion I think we can all relate to.

Since the birth of the internet, is there a direct correlation to our self-confidence and ability to have educated conversations? Have we lost it? Did we change? Or is it simply transferred into another type of self-confidence platformed on the web.

I feel like Pavlov’s dog each time I hear an alert, feel my cellphone vibrate, or see a that little red bubble tell me I have a new notification. We don’t even hesitate to ignore our internal reactions because we are so focused on what’s “inside the box”. We’re like spoiled children who cry on Christmas because Santa forgot our favorite toy. We have destroyed our ability to enjoy the little things in life, and we fail to put any effort into a realistic goal because we are no better than a crackhead addicted to an impetuous fix for instant gratification.

Have we become so conditioned that we don’t even realize the crushing numbness deterring our ability to understand personal emotions? Can we honestly understand everything we are feeling and why? Or have become so detached to self-assurance that we need others to articulate how we feel, think, and see the world?

Forget Ebola, there is a much more dangerous sickness infecting millions of lives. I’ve come to the conclusion that we Americans hates ourselves so much we encourage this sever epidemic case of “blind narcissism”. It has become so easy to invent an alternate reality on the internet that we have actually begun to believe in our own senseless illusions.

How many selfie’s did it take to get the one you wanted? How many times did you write your message before sending it? How many times did you actually investigate a story you read on the internet? How often do you look at your phone? How do you feel between notifications? How often do you “like” something, share something, or say something just so others will talk to you? How many posts do you see on your news feeds that have to do with reassuring the public how they feel, who they are, or how they do things?

There are so many ways to look at the world, so why do we settle on just one? I assume that if America had a Facebook page one status might read something like this “I’ve offered you freedom, I’m full of resources and endless opportunity, and I have never let you down. So why are you ashamed of me? Why have enslaved yourselves in opinions, to money, and hate?”

If we don’t acknowledge our obsessive need for constant attention, then we could one be facing a lifetime of disappointments, failed relationships, and filters of friends. We have to ask ourselves questions that are not easy to answer. We have to be willing to accept that we DO in fact have flaws, faults, and are in no way perfect.

It has become so bad that we had to dump buckets of ice water on our heads just to feel something for contributing. We had to show the world that we were willing to support a cause that our society deemed as important by filming an irrational action of stupidity and challenging others to follow. Not that there is anything wrong with donating time, money, or efforts to any cause, but the reality is this charity was able to make leaps and bounds over others by simply catering to a narcissistic society rather that a humble one?

Just to give you an idea in a ratio, let me break it down for you. In less than 2 MONTHS the “Ice Bucket Challenge” caused us to donate over $115 MILLION dollars*. Now, Breast Cancer, which can arguably be one of the largest fundraising causes nationwide, has only raised $500 million dollars** in 11 YEARS! Which means that on average Breast Cancer raised $3.7 million a month, while ALS raised $57.5 million a month. It would take 1 year, 3 months, and 15 days just for Breast Cancer advocates to raise the same amount ASL was able to raise in 1 month.

I’m not saying any sickness is less important than the other. Both Cancer and ASL are deadly, and effect thousands of Americans, but the idea that catering to the social media sites and feeding our constant hunger for attention was able to do more than the simple goodwill of mankind is mind blowing. ASL gave us something to brag about, to show off to our friends, and to instigate reactions. This could be considered a great thing, and was received well by the majority of our Nation, but I have to ask the hard question. “Why did it take dumping buckets of ice water onto our heads in front of a camera to get us to do something important?” You know how senseless that makes us sound?

I’m sure there are millions of people who do great things on a daily basis and go unnoticed, and I’m assuming that sometimes this lack of appreciation builds up into a “river of wants” that can’t wait to break the “dam of humility” on social media. We are better than that, we always have been, and we always claim to be. It’s time we stop paying attention to ourselves and start focusing on the world around us. It’s not enough to simply “post” your view, your belief, or your opinion. We need to start taking action and doing something before we evolve into a zombie like culture. If we don’t, we will lose all that makes us human, and crumble into depressive state of self-loathing.

This is a sickness and a spreading infection well worthy of dumping ice water on our heads just to wake us up from our alluded realities. There is no simple solution, and I don’t have the answer for everyone, like I said nothing is black and white. It took me 60 days of deleting my own Facebook to realize how much I was missing in the world. There are so many things we use to see and feel prior to social media, but our sickness of “blind narcissism” is blocking us from even knowing that. The remedy is different for everyone, and I hope after reading this you can find ways to cure whatever level at which you feel social media has impacted you.  We need to rebuild our relationships, refocus our priorities, and our make an honest effort to be human before its too late.

Bret Johnson

 

 

*Click Here for reference to ASL

**Click Here for reference to Breast Cancer