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CommunitySome of The Field

People play at all kinds of contests. Some for fun. Some more seriously. Let’s look at a few examples:

How about sports? We have team sports. Football. Basketball. We have individual sports. Golf. Tennis. Contests one and all. No?

Wouldn’t you also include dancing and even singing in the “sports” category? Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. The Voice and the now vanquished American Idol. Competitive dancing definitely worthy of being called a sport. Singing, even with the accompanying stage performing, is maybe not, but it’s still a contest.

 Knock it down a peg—perhaps—and you have reality shows like The Great Race and Biggest Loser. At least contests if not sports.

And how about Hungary’s first ever televised celebrity grave digger contest? Prizes for the neatest grave diggers and for the fastest grave diggers. No joke. Seriously. Google it.

And Oh How Seriously We Take Them

And we take our contests very seriously. So, to win, we are often willing to . . . cheat. Oh my. Really? Really! Believe it.

International sports authorities have just disqualified the entire Russian track and field team from competing in the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this August. Why? Use of performance enhancing drugs by the majority of their track and field athletes. Systemically encouraged and supported by their sports officials. Now that’s sad.

How about that marathon runner a few years ago? The one who quietly veered off the course after the first mile, drove his car to within a couple of miles of the finish line, parked his car, and hopped back onto the course. Finished with a great time (for a human, but not for a motor coach).

Dial it down a bit and we have our increasingly popular workplace “step challenges” in the name of fitness. And wellness, if you’ll pardon the expression. Why do I say that? Well, look at all the tricks people are playing to “win,” using power tools, pets and household appliances to fool their Fitbits as they “coast” to victory, often without lifting a foot. One “competitor” clipped his tracker to a hamster wheel. Another hooked his app to his ceiling fan.

Have we come up with a contest for . . . ingenuity and deception? Sorry. The field’s apparently already oversubscribed. And with a long wait-list.

And The Explanation?

So, what’s the explanation for playing all these contests? Attention? Notoriety? Fame? Perhaps the strongest of all: A sense of community. People want acceptance. From their “peers.” They want to belong, to be part of a group. Let’s face it: Being all alone is . . . well, it’s lonely. No fun at all. It breeds bad things. Depression. Anger. To name just a couple.

Lessons To Be Learned

Anything to be learned from these observations? How about the increasing number of . . . LONE wolf terrorists out there? Looking for a community to join?

Don’t they fit the profile?

Aren’t they generally lonely in fact and not only by virtue of the label we affix to them? Dredge up the last few of these folks you can recall. Weren’t they indeed lonely? None of these guys on the local chess club, soccer team, book club, whatever. Maybe an occasional churchgoer, but not on any of their hospitality committees.

But desperate enough to seek out acceptance by and membership in ISIS. I guess desperately lonely people are not that picky where they look for community and acceptance.

Each one out there striving to do something bigger and “better” than those who came before them. Trying hard to make the Guinness Book of Records. For most killed in a single event spread over the longest period before being . . . shot dead. Trying oh so hard to please and impress their . . . community. To be accepted by their . . . “peers.”

Need more evidence? Consider our Orlando shooter. While he was busy, oh so busy, killing and maiming all of his victims, he was also actively communicating his camaraderie with ISIS, with the Boston Marathon bombers, and with the San Bernardino husband and wife terrorists. People who didn’t know this guy from Adam. To gain acceptance from and access to their . . . community. You think he was just trying to connect with the San Bernardino couple to find out how they maintained such a great marriage when his former wives abandoned him left and right. Just because of a little physical abuse..

Need still more evidence? Our Orlando shooter was also using his phone during his shooting spree to see how he was “trending” on Facebook and other social media platforms!

A couple of Possible SolutionsHeal

So when all those due process advocates argue that it would be “wrong” to get any of these identifiable lone wolves off the streets, consider this. Give them a sense of belonging, a sense of community, if only with people like themselves (in need of group therapy, not group terror cells) or those who treat people like themselves. And as a condition to being released back out into their “communities,” make them join a club. Or two.

Or maybe encourage them to try blogging. Regularly. At least a couple of times a week. Good for giving one a sense of belonging, at least electronically. It should also keep them too busy to realize just how angry, depressed, neglected and lonely they are. 🙂

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