How do our choices about isolation impact the health and happiness of our families and children? This is a complex question, worth serious thought. As we try to protect our loved ones from crime, disease, toxic chemicals, terrorist attack and other threats, the decisions have consequences.
Many families in America lead very isolated lives. First-world health standards in foods regulation, sanitation and medicine isolate my family from a ton of bugs that most people encounter around the globe.
While there are great things about isolation from pathogens and parasites, it is a double-edged sword. Studies have shown that Americans and Europeans have weakened immune systems and other vulnerabilities compared to people in developing nations who are exposed to these bugs. Some diseases and allergies in industrialized nations are now treated effectively with the help of exposure to parasites or pathogens, to activate immune responses!
How isolated should we be?
Not many of us choose to cut off contact with all our neighbors, much less live in a cave or abandoned missile silo. But some do. Ultimately, how isolated the family should be is a choice up to each of us. There are no easy answers.
Many of us live lives of social isolation from neighbors, family or coworkers, because in modern society, it’s relatively easy to ignore those nearby; I’ve lived in the same suburban neighborhood for over 16 years, yet I don’t know a single first name of any one of my neighbors.
Many choose to isolate their children by home schooling them, avoiding the influence of teachers, students and text books outside the family. In fact, home schooling has become a trend. I have friends, neighbors and one of my own children that home school their kids.
Of course the biggest isolation challenge for most of us is the web. Our phones, computers and connected TVs put us in potential contact with a world of information, communication, entertainment and most of the hackers, stalkers, scammers and terrorists on Earth.
While identity theft and having our kids recruited by Isis are scary risks and growing, the web has become nearly essential. There are not many of us willing to “cut the cord” to keep the e-bogeyman out of our lives. In fact, most of us are trending toward more web access at home, in the office, and wherever we can go with our smart phones.
Family isolation options
If we are to live with the risks of the internet, why not use it to help with our isolation measures? The opportunities for isolation choices on the web are massive. Most of us have one or two ‘top-of-mind’ risks that call for priority in isolation action. If credit card fraud, identity theft and attacks on our devices are the principle concerns, there are a wealth of products and services that offer help. If our fears revolve around that creepy guy down the block, or our insane ex-spouse then a contractor or security service may be worth a look. Lets check out isolation options individuals and families are choosing in 2017:
- Alternative homes– mobile, remote, underground, floating or high security options offer ways to put distance or other barriers between an entire living space and perceived threats.
- Panic rooms– also known as ‘Safe rooms‘ are secure spaces within a home or office that provide isolation from attack or disaster; some are just large enough to wait out a tornado or home invasion, while others can sustain a family for days or weeks.
- Secure our data– software, services and systems to protect data, identities, PCs, reputations and digital money (is it all digital now?) are common choices for people like me who’ve experienced credit card fraud, ransom-ware, computer viruses or other digital attacks.
- Microbial barriers– protection from pandemics, seasonal flu and other bio-hazards is possible with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters on the furnace, in our car or on our faces.
- Mini-barriers– for individuals, beds, faces, foods, etc. are used to avoid allergens, noise, insects, microbes, toxic particulate and other problems from pet dander to nuclear fall out; these can include sleep pods, survival modules, mosquito nets, gas masks, gloves and many other devices.
- Escape vehicles– from spare ATVs or snowmobiles to speed boats and armored cars, vehicles that offer protection, isolation and escape are available and sales are up.
- Disaster bunkers– storm shelters and military bunkers have a long history, and residential fallout shelters have been around since the 1950s. Today, hardened, isolated havens for weeks or months of protected living are still options for those who fear the worst. It is even possible to buy condos in a former missile silo!
Isolation choices change lives
Where and how we live makes a difference in who we are and what we become. The trend of younger generations to depend more on the web for social mobility and less on a car results in migration back toward city living. This movement away from suburban areas that captured former city dwellers for so long in the past is an amazing trend with real consequences. The jury is still out as to what that urban growth trend will mean politically and economically, but the ecological consequences could be very positive.
Just as many are choosing to live in cities, others are returning to rural and small town life, as they adopt careers that allow them to work anywhere. Today, where we live is generally a lifestyle choice more open to personal preference than ever before.
How and where we live also impacts how and what we feel must be isolated for that life to be safe and manageable. More creative shelter and survival options are available and more are chosen than ever before.
The social consequences of the physical move to city life coupled with continuing migration to virtual association and communication is as hard to predict as the changes that followed migration to suburbia after world war II. All these lifestyle changes bring a degree of isolation separating older generations from those they reared, while requiring new forms of isolation, yet to be developed. How will all this impact young children of today or aging parents in retirement is an unfolding story. If you have theories on where this is headed, please share them in a comment below.
Photo credit: x-ray delta one via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: tomislavmedak via VisualHunt.com / CC BY
Photo credit: nan palmero via Visual Hunt / CC BY