Our Village - Our Tribe

9 Mar 2022
Bookmark

This blog follows that published on Saturday 26th February.

I want you to cast your mind back fifty thousand years. No, I know none of us is that old, but I want you to imagine.

Then and now, we were and are anatomically identical. Then, we lived in small tribes of 30 – 50 and mostly related only to our own tribe. Evidence suggests we interacted with other tribes up to 200 miles away and we may have engaged in larger inter-tribe celebrations.

Back then, it would have taken at least a day’s travel to reach the next tribe, and a week’s walking to reach that big meeting. It would not have been a frequent event, and any big news would take a long time to reach your tribe.

Fast forward to just a thousand years ago. According to the Domesday Book, we lived in villages of 100 – 250, or in market towns of maybe 2,000 people.

A thousand years ago, your market town might have been five miles away. Beasts were driven to market every week, and you would have gone to town only to buy those things your village could not provide. The daily commute was a thing of the future: if you worked in the town, then you lived in the town. You knew the news of your town or village, but anything from further away would be gleaned once a week in the market square.

I grew up in the sixties and seventies on an isolated farm. Our nearest village, of 253 inhabitants, was a mile and a half away. All the news of the village was gathered and exchanged in the village shop. The bus ran to the nearest market town on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and everyone knew who would be on it and why. On the way back, town news would be shared.

The difference between my village in 1086, when the Domesday Book was compiled, and 1969, was the radio. The radio brought the conflict of Vietnam onto the dinner table and directly into farm life. I was six, and terrified: I thought Vietnam was just down the road.

In many ways, our human thinking is fifty thousand years old. We relate immediately to our tribe, and more distantly to those outside that tribe.

Thanks to social media, our tribe can now be scattered around the world, but it is still small, because that is all our emotional settings can cope with.

The news brings disaster - and it always is disaster - directly into our life as if it were to into our tribe; we are constantly bombarded with worldwide news, and we are not designed for it.

Some of us manage to put up emotional barriers and some of us cannot.

I cannot, and therefore choose not to listen to or watch the news. If you are like me, then there is no shame in doing likewise. In fact, it may be for the best.

Mary

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

Email us at support@moodscope.com to submit your own blog post!

Comments

Oli

March 9, 2022, 6:41 a.m.

It took me a long time to puzzle over something about stress which was in plain sight: how does stress get under the skin? First of all, does it actually cause us harm? Secondly, if it does then how does it do that? How does it affect the body and its mind and what are the mechanisms? My friend is very fond of eliminating toxins in a New Age kind of way with good foods and bad foods, whereas I think the truth , as I understand it is more like 100% of everything is toxic if the dose is high enough. It’s all about the dose. And duration is important too because exposure to smaller doses for longer periods of time can still cause permanent damage. (Think alcohol; think diabetes.) And that’s the link with stress. When experiencing stress there is an associated cascade of hormones and chemicals which have a profound impact on the body. You would expect all these changes to be reversible, and they should be, but not always. I don’t think it’s healthy to live in a state of chronic stress which is a smaller dose for a longer period of time. So I don’t do that and I don’t listen to the news. Thanks for the blog Mary.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 7:27 a.m.

And thank you, Oli, for this comment, which further explains the inability of many of us to receive the news into our living rooms. Using your analogy of food, some of us, myself included, cannot process gluten. Even the tiniest amount will make me ill for days. On Saturday, my husband opened some homemade beer. He is very proud of it, and, unthinking, I took an infinitesimal sip. Beer contains gluten, and I have been ill with stomach cramps and migraines since. Today, four days after that exposure, I am still not right. Other people can process gluten with ease and do not understand how toxic it is to those of us who cannot. I believe 200,000 years of a paleo diet cannot be easily overcome by all of us, just because, 10,000 years ago, we started to grow wheat (5,000 years ago in Northern Europe). It is worth noting too, the wheat we grow now has a much higher gluten content. This arrived with "dwarf wheat" in the 1970s (along with TV, which provides images, as well as audio information). I am lucky, in that I am fine with dairy. For those who are both gluten and dairy intolerant, I believe paleo is the best way forward, just as news from our tribe is the best way forward. My husband's work is affected by the situation, but the details are secret, so he does not tell me. Another close friend, in my tribe but not in the UK, finds his work seriously compromised by the sanctions. I can listen to his troubles, share his worry and provide comfort, even if I cannot hug him as I would wish. That level of care and worry I can cope with, but not the personal suffering of strangers. They become my tribe, but I am not theirs. I can do absolutely nothing for them and become stressed and distressed by their distress. Apologies for the long reply, which is almost a blog in itself! :)

Catherine

March 9, 2022, 8:25 a.m.

Thanks for this Oli….see below.

Catherine

March 9, 2022, 8:25 a.m.

Thanks for this Oli….see below.

Norman

March 9, 2022, 8:25 a.m.

I used to love listening to the news, but nowadays I simply can't. I spend all my time thinking "why is this person lying to me," and trying to work out the truth from the official line. It is less stressful and depressing to tune out and talk to friends and family, who feel the same way.

Lexi

March 9, 2022, 11:08 a.m.

Mary and Oli, I am reading this at 5am my time. I just finished writing in my journal about stress and I then I read your words and I couldn't agree more. Stress is insidious. It is important to recognize what brings stress and figure out how to manage it. Looking at it further, I realize that the things that I used to use to manage stress (alcohol, escapism tv) no longer work. So I am left with feeling uncomfortable. Ironically is a good place to be, this feeling unsettled and restless and exhausted. It means I am on the cusp of discovering my true spirit. xo

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:39 p.m.

Sending hugs, Lexi. I am discovering (very slowly) meditation. I think this may be a good route forward.

Norman

March 9, 2022, 8:18 a.m.

Mary, I think the advantage of the old way was that threats were known (storms, bad harvests) and to some extent were manageable, in that people could prepare for them. In a limited group it is also easier to build alliances with people in the same boat. My partners friend recently went into work on a Monday and was told to clear her desk: the section was closing. Twenty-eight years service. She did ok financially and got another job, but the stress was immense, and in the modern world this can happen to anyone, at any time. I believe it's this insecure nature of modern life which contributes to the stress epidemic.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:41 p.m.

Modern life is certainly more stressful. This is why I think it is important to manage what stress factors we can.

Catherine

March 9, 2022, 8:24 a.m.

If I had a broken leg I wouldn’t attempt a five mile hike. If I were Covid positive I wouldn’t go to a gathering of people. If I disliked cats I wouldn’t adopt a kitten, though I would care for one in an emergency. If I had suffered some sort of trauma I wouldn’t watch a film focussing on that which had caused my distress unless it was part of therapy in a controlled environment. If I couldn’t swim I wouldn’t jump into a deep swimming pool. All of these are fairly easy to make judgements about. If, as in many cases, it’s our mental health or emotional health that may be compromised by our doing or not doing something, we may find it more difficult to make decisions about those things that aren’t particularly ‘good’ for us. It’s all about balance for me. Following the news is important to me, because I need to look outward as well as inward, but it isn’t good for me to watch it 24/7. I prefer to read about it once a day. However, I get that there are some people who can’t even do that, and also that there are others who want to immerse themselves in it. For me it’s about keeping my humanity at the same time as my sanity. Such an important blog, that is more than just about this horrendous conflict. It’s about how we make decisions based on caring for ourselves as well as how we relate to the wider world. Thank you Mary, and thank you Oli for your response which got me thinking.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:33 p.m.

Our humanity and our sanity: what a great phrase. Thank you for that. You have given me something to ponder.

Jul

March 9, 2022, 8:47 a.m.

Interesting blog Mary. I do watch the news on TV in the evening. All decent caring people are behind Ukraine willing them to survive both individually and as a wonderful country. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the news was addictive and still is but I am now questioning the way the media chooses to present it. I'm not questioning the facts this time but I feel we are deliberately being fed pictures and news which make it addictive to keep watching which of course is what Sky news and other broadcasters want. Their business model depends on increasing number of viewers. I want to know the facts on the Ukraine crisis but I am saturated with emotion from the current media reporting which in the end might put me off watching much longer. I often think about life centuries ago and what you have described here Mary. Jul xx

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:31 p.m.

You make a really good point about the commercial aspect of news reporting and the addictive nature of it. I had not considered that. Thank you.

Valerie

March 9, 2022, 9:24 a.m.

Hello Mary, I do follow the news.My partner is ex-navy and a keen military historian,so it would be hard to avoid even if I chose to.I do understand why it is impossible for some people to cope .I am sure a lot of people will agree with your decision. I lived in a village once for 3 years,and hated it.The people were all born there,and not very nice.One lovely woman who wrote children's books was driven out by a poison pen tormentor,her crime being that she was an outsider.I just don't have a village mindset.I am told it is much better there now,with a big influx of outsiders. I suppose in a way when following the news I am rooting for my particular tribe or team.Oddly,as anxiety is my worst symptom,not knowing what is going on would make me feel terrible.I have also done a couple of practical things to send aid,and that makes me feel better too.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:30 p.m.

Sadly, insularity is the flip side of close community. Villages are slow to accept outsiders. I can understand your anxiety about not knowing what is going on. I like an overview, but not to witness the details.

Ruth

March 9, 2022, 9:49 a.m.

It is doing what is best for yourself. For me, it is to stay away or I get nightmares. I'm not denying it is happening or ignoring it, I am caring for me.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:26 p.m.

Exactly, Ruth. This blog was written to explain why some of us react ghe way we do.

Sue

March 9, 2022, 10:12 a.m.

Hello Mary I think you are spot on with this. At the beginning of Covid, I watched it all and allowed myself to be stressed and anxious. As things progressed I realised I was not doing myself any good so reduced how much I watched. I am having to do the same now, although it is difficult as my husband watches each main bulletin. I think it is the unpredictability and the knowledge that there is little we can do to resolve anything. But it is lovely to see how many people are doing what they can and contributing financially and running vans of essentials to help.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:25 p.m.

Yes, exactly. I know there is a lot of good going on too.

Daisy

March 9, 2022, 10:51 a.m.

Dear Mary I was told off yesterday by a course tutor for looking at the news on the lunch break for all the good reasons you say. I feel if I ignore it I am turning a blind eye and not caring and my heart breaks at the thought of the suffering. I also think it is not as black and white as portrayed. It reminds me of school playground where a manipulator provokes a fight between 2 others and then walks a way butter wouldn’t melt in the mouth. So more sorrow in my heart

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:24 p.m.

I wrote this blog for everyone like you who feels it is almost their duty to suffer alongside Ukraine and its people. I feel it is rather our duty to do what we can and to keep our spirits up. We so easily fall into the trap of feeling that self care is selfish. I believe my first duty is to my family. I cannot be there for my family if I am suffering and depressed over a situation about which I can do nothing. Some of us have bodies which work best on a similar diet to our ancestors (but maybe with more regular and reliable mealtimes), and some of have minds that work best the same way. Please reconsider if it is really your duty to suffer.

Daisy

March 10, 2022, 7:22 a.m.

Dear Mary Many thanks for your care and concern. I understand and have thought about your comments. For me it is not my duty something I feel obligated to do. It is something more core to the essence of my soul - a reaction that is part of who I am. I will today do something practical to help by donating to DEC who my research seems to say is the most helpful. And giving my nectar points. And then enjoy the small pleasures that life gives me and I try not to take for granted. And go in the garden and enjoy the nature You take care too

Mary Wednesday

March 10, 2022, 8:41 a.m.

Sending hugs. Thank you for your response. I do understand we must follow our hearts on this. <3

Amanda

March 9, 2022, 11:29 a.m.

My village - my tribe - has for the past 17 years been a community of people living on boats in a particular area. Last year, we left that area to travel ever so slowly to a different area at the other end of the canal network. Wherever we go, we are strangers now. I am finding it hard to be without the casual neighbourliness I have got used to with people I have got to know well. I don't make friends easily, and I find it hard to chat with people I don't know, especially when a majority of them are men (nothing against men, but I worry about if they are misinterpreting my friendliness). Contact with my tribe is largely through social media, which helps me not to feel totally bereft. In terms of our global tribe, the war in Ukraine has brought this kind of awfulness closer to home than since the days of the Northern Ireland conflict and the Soviet Union meddling in non-soviet European countries. I am reminded of a flow chart I once had on my wall, which went: Got a problem > yes > can you do something about it? > yes > don't worry. Got a problem > yes > can you do something about it? > no > don't worry. Got a problem > no > don't worry. I'm trying to follow that and not get caught up in the news. I've decided which news media outlets I will read/watch each day, and how much time I will spend doing it, just once each day. My grandpa always watched the 9 o'clock news on TV, and that was it. So I'm doing the equivalent.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:17 p.m.

Thank you, Amanda. I like your flowchart and hope you will be able to create a new water village sooner than you think.

Steve

March 9, 2022, 11:44 a.m.

Bit concerned by your final remarks Mary. Asserting your own inability to cope with news is fine, not sure about encouraging others. You seem to be suggesting it might be best if we all ignored what is going on. Surely it is precisely the 'head in the sand' approach on a national scale that has caused the problem. How about reframing your position to something more like: I personally choose not to engage with the news, but I am glad that others do, and very grateful for what they do on my behalf.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:15 p.m.

Thank you for taking the time to comment, Steve. In the paragraph above the one to which you refer, I state, "Some of us can manage to put up emotional barriers and some of us cannot. "I cannot and, if you are like me..." If you are one of those who can put up those barriers, I salute you. I ask you to be be grateful for your own resilience, and to have compassion for those who lack it. I am not espousing ostrich-like wilful ignorance, and am grateful to my husband and one close friend who keep me generally informed. I hope my earlier blog, on 26th February, makes this clear. This blog is about giving moodscope readers permission to distance themselves from the news without guilt and also to understand why they feel the way they do. Self-care looks different for everyone.

Bunnykins

March 9, 2022, 12:54 p.m.

The trouble these days is that we are bombarded on all sides with news. I have found it distressing so limit watching so much. When you get overwhelmed easily (as I do) you have to "protect" your peace of mind. I have made small donations to two charities and lit a candle and said a prayer for Ukraine. Sorry if that offends anyone but just saying how I deal with this tragic situation.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 1:05 p.m.

Likewise, Bunnikins; likewise.

Nurse Tilda

March 9, 2022, 1:29 p.m.

although I completely understand and respect Mary's choosing to avoid the news, and even though watching it adversely affects my mood, I find I can not turn away. I need to be with others in their suffering, if only through the tv. I need to know what is going on, as best as I can through tv and other media. If I can maintain equilibrium at least during these times, i feel I've achieved something. For me, my depression/anxiety/mood issues, have nothing to do with what is going on around me; it's almost completely endogenous - my wiley brain chemicals.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 8:07 p.m.

Thank you, Nurse Tilda. I think we must all make our own choices. Thank you for respecting and understanding mine.

Orangeblossom

March 9, 2022, 1:35 p.m.

Thanks for the blog Mary. I try to listen to the news on the radio, or watch it on the BBC once a day. If I feel overwhelmed, I just fall asleep. It seems to be my inbuilt defence meachanism.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 8:09 p.m.

Sleep is nature's way of blocking things out when they become too much. It is also one of the symptoms of depression. We need to listen to our bodies more.

Patty

March 9, 2022, 4 p.m.

Thanks for the blog Mary. My husband watches the news continually in the evening. I can watch a little bit or prefer to watch none, because I too am affected emotionally by it. It stresses me out, the constant negativity. My emotional state is better if I don't watch it at all. Those of us that are emotionally sensitive seem to be better off avoiding or limiting it.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 8:10 p.m.

I hope this blog, Patty, gives you a bit of insight as to why that is. A history of fifty thousand years is not so soon overturned for some of us.

Teg

March 9, 2022, 5:44 p.m.

Hi Mary I think everyone has to make up their own mind about whether to avoid bad news. I remember 2 years at the time of my mental breakdown and the outbreak of Covid 19, I could not watch any news about it. The constant daily figures and deadly symptoms had a considerable adverse effect on my already fragile emotional state. Just because people cannot watch it does not mean they are oblivious to the human atrocities that are occuring. You need to be a robot not to feel for the poor people who are suffering. Txx

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 9, 2022, 8:11 p.m.

Indeed, Teg. Indeed.

Nicco

March 10, 2022, 2:07 p.m.

Thanks for your blog, Mary. I'm glad this subject has come up again because i didn't comment on the first time (people here will know i'm often notorioulsy late reading & commenting on blogs), so i'm grateful to have the opportunity to do so now... I remember when i was small, my (late) mother became ill &, although i didn't know it then, she was verging on a breakdown. She also had my two older brothers at home to care for. Years later she told me about it... Because of what she went through & witnessed as a young girl during the occupation of her country during WWII, she became convinced that there was going to be another world war, & this badly affected her. She was sensible enough to seek help from a neighbour who talked to her & suggested she see a doctor for further advice. The doctor she saw was very sympathetic & understanding, & his advice, rather than hand her a prescription, was that she should stop watching the news, which she did, & there was a great improvement in her health. I've thought of my mother a lot over the last couple of years, & even more so over these last few weeks, & been grateful that she's not able to see/hear/witness what's been going on during these very uncertain times we're living in just now. I, on the other hand, have always felt a need to know exactly what's going on, no matter how bad it is, because only when i know the worst will i know the full extent of what i'm dealing with &, in so doing, will know how to formulate a plan in order to deal with it. I became more accutely aware of this trait in myself a couple of years ago when my brother died, leaving a tangled mess which left his partner penniless & homeless because of the actions of his children & exwife. I found myself spiralling further & further down. I felt i should go to her, live with her to fight her corner, or have her live here with me to protect her. I began to dread her phone calls, not wanting to know what the latest cruel injustice was being meted out. I was researching legal issues & advising as best i could but i became increasingly aware that i was up against a force greater than i could cope/deal with & that i could not take on the people involved, along with their own families & solicitors, & it felt like i was being sucked further & further into a narcissistic situation i realised i could do nothing about, to the extent that in the end i could hardly function mentally &/or physically. In order to protect my own mental health & be able to start caring for myself again, i had to step away. Now, i know that there is a difference between the conflict in a far away country & what was going on in my family - the obvious being that the one that affected me most was much closer to home (albeit 60 miles away) & therefore involved me more directly, but what this has taught me is that there is a line beyond which my health started to suffer & deteriorate. Furthermore, i realised & learned that this line is different for all of us, & its demarkation distance is not an indication of weakness or courage or ability/inability to cope or endure. I have been gluten & dairy intolerant for nearly 25yrs - it's not an indication of weak coping strategies, just my body's reaction. I'm ok as long as i don't infuse my system with it. I'm glad to say that that seems to be changing - i am able to tolerate a little wheat these days, but that doesn't mean i'm going to overload my system with copious amounts of it every day - just a little now & again seems sensible. Balance has been mentioned, & this word seems to crop up more & more. It seems we are living in an increasingly unbalanced environment, & maybe it's up to us all individually to find the kind of balance that is right for ourselves. Thank goodness we are all different -the world would be a very dull place if we were all the same. Ps: In case anyone is wondering about the outcome of the situation with my sister in law... Her own sister intervened but did not take her in - if she had, then she would not have got the help she needed in order to carry on living independently. She went to a hostel & from there the local authority was able to find her a lovely flat in a small sheltered complex near to her sister which her sister helped to decorate & furnish. Her sister has also has power of attourney so she helps her with sorting out bills & paperwork. The situation (miraculously !!) has worked out much much better than i could ever have hoped for.

Reply

Mary Wednesday

March 11, 2022, 6:23 a.m.

Wow!!! Thank you, Nicholas. Your poor mother! What a terrible situation for your brother's partner to find herself in. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon. I am so glad it has finally worked out for her. I seem to be getting increasingly intolerant of gluten. I inadvertently consumed the tiniest tiniest bit on Sunday, and have been ill all week!

Moodie

March 11, 2022, 10:19 p.m.

i dont know who is my tribe - havent read other comments yet but yes tribalism ... who is like me? who is not like me? who will protect me? who do i care about?

Reply

Login or Sign Up to Comment