Stress in the hive

Posted on November 20, 2007
Filed Under Commentary | 1 Comment

           A new Ipsos-Reid survey shows that a full quarter of all Canadians have been diagnosed with, or feel they would be diagnosed as suffering from, serious stress. One medical commentator on CBC Newsworld called it lethal.

          Among the potential causes, he cited were the intense urbanization of Canada over the past several decades, changing family structures and the constant accessibility provided by cell phones and other devices.  He also said the public is beginning to view stress and other mental illness as less of a stigma.

          I wonder if we may also be sheltering our children from stress so much that they are not tempered to handle the adult world.

          Even so, I can certainly believe that being a single mom or dad commuting to work an hour or more away from your children and being accessible to all your stressors 24 hours per day could certainly make you a tad edgy.

          My son just bought his first home because the people upstairs in his apartment building were shift workers and complained about his surround sound. He does not blame them but he does want to live his life too.

          And, yes, I fully realize how fortunate he is to have the option to buy a home. That is my point.

          The shift workers upstairs might well be complaining about that single mom’s kids. What is she to do? Besides Prozac, I mean.

          City planners, economists, energy conservationists and even architects are now making more and more noise about the need to kill the suburbs and increase the population density of cities. Realtors hired surrogates to line up for three days for a chance to get listings on condos in an 80-story luxury retail, hotel and residence building going up at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor, now Toronto’s main intersection.

          Either I am nuts or the conventional wisdom is.

          Everything these experts are lobbying for seems insane to me.

          Remember that massive power outage in Toronto three summers ago? Have you imagined what it was like for people who lived on the upper floors of tall buildings? How were they to survive without elevators, refrigeration, air conditioning or showers?

          Do we not understand that humans are not meant to live in beehives or anthills? I guess if we can do it to chickens, we will do it to ourselves.

          Some years ago, there were studies to see what happened when scientists increased in rat community population densities. Violence, gang rape and cannibalism were among the deviant behaviour that resulted. Normally communal rats gradually began to engage in violence escalating to gang rape, murder and cannibalism. When communities are not designed to meet the needs of creatures, society goes completely to hell. It seems we all need some private space and time.

          I also believe there is ample evidence to indicate we need fresh air and a certain amount of sunlight. How is that possible in the concrete canyons of the hive?

          For many folks I know, a couple of hours combing the shore at Kougibouguac are a better stress reliever than sedatives or psychiatrists.

          Observing routines of nature like sunsets, turning tides, birds courting and working, and trees turning their leaves up in anticipation of rain, also, I believe, contribute to inner peace.

          The most horrifying Star Trek aliens I remember were the Borg. They overwhelmed and assimilated any species they encountered and melded the power of each mind into one. They referred to themselves as “The Hive.” As they advanced, they proclaimed, “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

          Our politicians, bureaucrats, utilities, service providers, architects and now even ecologists have apparently been assimilated.

          Is resistance futile?



One Response to “Stress in the hive”

  1. bloomingwriter on November 27th, 2007 1:47 pm

    Gawd, I hope resistance isn’t futile. Stress in moderate amounts is fine and even productive (deadlines for us writerly types help us to stay on something resembling a schedule) but I read this column, and think about those trapped in the concrete jungle–or in the McMansion zone–and wonder how they function.

    Maybe I’m privileged to be able to work and live in a pastoral, peaceful setting, where all I need do to drop the stress level is look out on the Bay. But how do we make it better for others? We can’t, as individuals. All we can do, I guess, is to resist as individuals, and hope that others might follow suit.

    A Pollyanna thought, perhaps.

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