A couple of weeks’ ago, I had to go for a ‘talk’ with my kid’s teacher and headteacher at her high-school. The kid had skipped one day too many, and even the patience of her understanding Israeli school teachers was starting to wear thin.
When they asked the kid how she was getting on in the school, which is half-boarding, the kid explained how it’s hard to make friends because everyone is stuck in their phone. Like, everyone.
The teacher immediately cut in, and said that she’d also observed that, and that she could see how all these ‘smart phones’ were completely ruining the generation, and making it so hard for normal, friendly interaction to happen between the students.
They’ve all been in school together for a year, and they are still practically strangers, because it’s easier to play candy crush than to come out of your shell and really talk to someone else.
It’s so sad.
Since we had to move out to a different part of Jerusalem four months’ ago, both my kids have been feeling lonely and isolated in the hosue, as we now live a 50 minute walk away from their friends.
The older one is busy studying for bagrut, and boards full-time, so she notices it much less. But the younger one? The younger one is sinking a little, and I feel powerless to stop it.
We had another fight over it yesterday, as I noticed she spent three hours solid on her phone, texting.
“What do you want me to do instead, what?!” she challenged. “I can’t just go downstairs and put a sign up that I want some friends! There’s nothing to do here!”
She’s right. There’s nothing to do here.
Except shop a little, or eat out a little, and really, how much can you do even that?
But that’s not all. When I was telling her she spends too much time on her phone, she snapped back that I spend too much time on my computer, and that I also have no friends and she’s just mirroring me.
(See, the Breslov ideas are sinking in, one way or another…)
It bothered me a lot, because I think she’s right. Sure, I’m a writer by nature, and if I wasn’t typing on a keyboard, I’d be scribbling on a pad or scratching a stylus into mud, but aside from that, life is pretty lonely at the moment.
Since the house has imploded, I’m feeling pretty lost in the world. I don’t want to stay in this lonely flat (which is actually very nice, just in completely the wrong area) and I also don’t want to have to move into an expensive dump just to live in the ‘right’ area, because I don’t think I can live like that anymore.
So I’m stuck.
My husband (who does actually know a lot of stuff, and is often very useful) tells me that I have a bad case of yeoush, or despair, at the moment, and that we all do in generation. He’s also walking around a little like a brain-dead zombie, from all the stress and uncertainty we’re going through (again…) at the moment.
I so want things to change, he so wants things to change, but at this point, I just feel like I have no option on the table except holy apathy. When I was in Uman, I managed to squeeze out another couple of six hour praying sessions, but since then, even just keeping my regular hour a day is challenging.
I have a lot of yeoush about what’s going on, and that I can’t seem to change or do anything about, not by praying, and not by trying, and not by hustling.
In the meantime, my kid has taken to playing a song on her phone with the chorus ‘let’s be lonely together’. When I’m hanging up the washing, she’ll suddenly appear behind me and tell me: “Ima, let’s be lonely together.”
She’s a very deep kid.
She’s in a very lonely place.
And so am I.