Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wealth is not Property

Svetlana Jovanović
[Guest post by Ellen, a long-time reader of this blog that I've only just heard from recently. She makes a valid point, one I couldn't have made better myself. It makes me happy that a woman is making it, although that doesn't make it any less incendiary (for some people).]

Thank you for your series on Communities that Abide. I have been looking for a summation of successful and proven strategies for communities for some time. Reading your checklist was something of an “Aha!” moment.
Of course these communities on the whole chose fleeing from persecution. Their options were to fight, to flee, or to assimilate. Fighting back, statistically, would lead to them being destroyed. Assimilation would lead to them being destroyed in other ways, either by poisoned bodies, by military service, or by poisoned souls (for lack of a better term) which leads to suicide. So, the best option for an already autonomous and separatist group is historically to flee. That is what my great great grandfather who was born in Russia did. He fled with my great grandfather to the U.S., where he could practice his religion in peace.

Your article on What Comes First was spot on, and I couldn't help but make the immediate connection between false tribalism and Facebook, especially for stay-at-home mothers. Without the games, which are entertainment that I do not need in my life, facebook is all about gossip, which is just as essential as learning the language of any place you go to as quickly as possible. However, Facebook arises to the level of false tribalism because it lacks the mutual obligation component necessary for real community.

I appreciated your comments about the Russians not passing money hand to hand, not holding conversations or transacting business over a threshold, and not leaving empty bottles on a table. These things have always made me uncomfortable, and I think I know why.

Thank you for sharing the video about gender roles in the communities that abide. I laughed when you said you would channel your wife to say that men were idiots so why would women want to be like them? My cultural upbringing within the US public school system has taught me that my highest aspiration in life is to become a powerful CEO of a company, or a highly paid corporate attorney. It also taught me that women who stay home to raise children are unpaid slave labor, second-class citizens. I had internalized that, and your words sparked an understanding that my priorities were all wrong. What was I thinking? I hated working outside of the home before I had children! Furthermore, in a 100 person community, when you are female, and you have, say, even as little as 4 children all spaced out 5 years apart or so, you'll never be free from teaching them basic life skills, and by the time you are done bearing children, your children start bearing children, and you have to be there to support them with all of the overwhelming tasks that newborns create. The family/tribe is better off for that support that grandparents offer just by being around. Then there are many communal tasks which must get done, and sometimes females are just better suited for them, because of where the task is located, or because of the interruptibility of the task. That's not a mark of inferiority of either gender, but simply a matter of practicality. I do not understand how some women get offended at not being allowed to serve in combat roles in the US military. Maybe it is because your womb is so valuable that we can't risk you getting killed!

In my family, the same is true of the males, who we also cannot risk getting killed to enrich oil companies' bottom lines, or be permanently damaged with PTSD because they are not psychopaths, who are the only people who can survive combat duty unscathed by permanent mental scars caused by what they were ordered to do. Asthma in the medical records does wonders at keeping people out of the military in the US, almost as good as religious pacifism. Perhaps the third reformed church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be pacifist.

I cried when I figured out that it would be best for my family if I never worked outside the home again. Your recent series of articles have been helpful in replacing a bunch of stupid and nonsensical US cultural scripts in my head with something practical that works.

Communities consist, at their heart, of women and children.  A community which chooses not to bear children at greater than replacement rate is effectively choosing to die.  They will be overrun, one way or another, and cease to exist. Therefore, children, and the women who bear and raise them, become the focus of these types of communities as inevitably as a tactic of fleeing from persecution leads to not having strong ties to any one piece of land. Initially, when I read your series of articles on Communities that Abide, I thought that they were a bad idea because communities such as these would become genetically isolated.  Inbreeding tends to lead to all sorts of genetic problems over time, for example fumerase deficiency or tay sachs disease.  Further reading into the matter led me to understand that each separatist community has instances of genetic mingling with “outsiders” over the time span of generations.  It may be frowned upon, but it surely happens.

More importantly, wealth is people.  Most Americans have a very hard time wrapping their head around this concept.  They think I am talking about slavery (owning people) or something hierarchical, but I am not.  Your average public-schooled American thinks wealth is things.  They think that wealth is federal reserve notes, or stock certificates, or I suppose I have to include tangible holdable items such as gold bars, or title to 1000 acres of tenant-occupied commercial development owned free and clear within a large city, or luxury cars, or perhaps jewelry.  When I believed that wealth was things, and that my social status as a woman was tied completely to how much stuff I owned, then a couple of resultant beliefs naturally followed. First, I as a woman, I will choose to have as few children as possible, because children are a financial liability, and because every time I bear a child, my income potential as a female goes down.  Second, I will be angry at all of the men for not letting me have equal income earning potential, leading to depression.  See what happens when I believe that wealth is “things”?  My community dies out.

If, on the other hand, I believe, as many cultures throughout the world do, that my wealth is my family and my community, then some other beliefs and behaviors result. First, I will bear more children. Second, I will invest my time and effort in people, instead of maintaining the car/land/house/Internet game.  Third, it means that my social status and my value, as a woman, are completely divorced from my income earning potential. I am worthy because I am the heart and soul of my family and my community.  Fourth, this does not lead automatically to a kind of slavery where the woman is chained to the kitchen and must do what her husband says in the domestic realm. No, she is wealth, but in a way that does not make her property. It means that she is much more important and valuable than any property in the whole world. It means that if the house is burning down, and there is a billion dollars on the table and the wife is sitting next to it, the husband chooses to save the wife (or mother) over the money every single time. Coming from a place of values like that, why would I want to be “equal” in income earning potential? Such things are trivial and irrelevant. Wealth is in the people who are willing to do whatever it takes for you and for your community.


KeltCindy said...

Outstanding guest post! Thank you, Dmitry. Ellen puts eloquently into words what I have a difficult time articulating myself. In my family's case, my husband is a stay-at-home father. Ellen is absolutely right on regarding the value of PEOPLE. My husband and I wouldn't (and could not) trade each other for any amount of material "wealth." My husband is our family's wealth. (I try to be, too, but he's our shining star!) It seems like our family dynamic is some kind of "best-kept secret" in our nightmarish "culture"/society. We are looked at with occasional contempt, but usually with pity. We're given all sorts of advice to "fix" our lives to fit some "standard." You and Ellen, and your readers, Dmitry, GET IT. Very much enjoyed getting your latest book. Take care -- and happy sailing!

Cindy Conaway

Unknown said...

I have found that saying things like " I never thought i would need a career" very politically incorrect even in a country like India.Social liberation in cities has strenghtened a level of aggressive class assertion that only feeds on the cultural aspect of a society.

but then behaviour and the whole culture a cultivation is highly impolitic to even mention since 'what do you do" is now the keyword of identity.

Working outside is not about need or choice and women themselves aid and abet the externalisation even though many activist type crib about women not getting their due.

Women who are staying at home don't have the old vocational substance about what their life and home entails.Character in home & hearth can only be built if one has a hold of what is going on.

telling a new story is out and equality is about whatever men do we must.Ultimately the greatest damage is being done to a "robotic" society where everybody is a machine.

SandWyrm said...

She really gets it. What society needs isn't women being coerced/brainwashed into doing traditionally male jobs/roles. It's women doing the nuts-and-bolts community-building work that men simply can't, by their nature, easily do.

As a stay at home dad, whose wife is living the empowerment dream, we both feel very out of place much of the time. If we could manage it financially, we'd change places in a heartbeat.

I mean, I can change diapers, clean house, and prepare meals just fine. But I simply don't have it in me to build the non-business social networks that hold a real community together. While my wife has trouble finding the competitive drive within herself to keep climbing the corporate ladder. She'd much rather facilitate camaraderie amongst her male peers, than compete with them.

Think about this: Get any two women together and they instantly bond. Before you know it they're self-organizing into clubs and playdates. Dragging their husbands along into activities we need mentally/spiritually, but don't naturally organize for ourselves. Go look at a church and you'll see 10+ women holding it together for every man.

Put any two men together outside of a business context, and we sort of mumble uncomfortably at each other. If we take out kids to playdates, its because a mom approached us to set it up.

But take a man and give him a concrete competitive goal... Well look out! We'll self organize into teams and get it done in no time!

So men and women are different... duh. Let's appreciate each other more, and stop trying to fight a million years of physical/social evolution. We need men to be men. Even more, we need women to be women. Nurturing, caring, and community-building. Civilization can't survive without them!

forrest said...

'No conversations across threshold'? In much of Russia, it gets cold, yes!? [Although there are ancient religious beliefs about thresholds being bad places to step on, throughout much of Asia, as well as among the Israelites' Philistine neighbors.]

Inbreeding? For short term, depends largely on how many ugly recessive genes may lurk in your initial pool. It does help to have an occasional outsider dive in from time to time... but what anthropologists suggest: Breeding with close family gets favored when the object is to keep the wealth (and/or the family traditions?) intact; breeding with neighboring groups is usually better when what you need most are allies.

Mike said...

Insightful guest post. Thank you, Ellen. The note she struck of overcoming her institutional education resonates with a point Dmitry has consistently made. Which makes me think the time is right for an alternative.

We have private schools, charter schools, tony lycées on the French model for the very, very wealthy, and madrassas for those fretful over contamination from the surrounding society. What about a Russian school for the rest of us? Not a language school, but a concept and practice of education rooted in Eastern values and experiences. I advocate this because every time I come here, I'm struck by the significant difference in life orientation Dmitry seems to have. Even allowing for his individuality, I have to believe that some of this difference is cultural, a very Russian way of understanding the world and life's priorities. This feels to me like the outlook that makes Slavic people seem so grounded, so sensible and so much less susceptible to the absurd verities that drive Americans to live absurd lives.

In the absence of a formal Russian school, I figure self-education will have to do. So how about it, Dmitry? What would you recommend for the curriculum of a learn-at-home education in Eastern thinking?

RaySch said...

It was a very good post. I do, however, disagree with your conclusion that “Wealth is people.” By the dictionary definition, “Wealth” is by its nature an overabundance, a store for future distribution, something to be accumulated. If you say, “Wealth is people”, then you wind up saying that that a man is wealthier if he has three wives instead of just one, or saying that a thousand friends on facebook is better than a good next door neighbor. I am sure that Dmitry would agree that the point of diminishing returns starts as soon as you get beyond “enough” or “sufficient”.
Thanks for the post,

susancoyotesfan said...

I agree with Ellen's thoughts. However, history doesn't bear her out. If you read any diary or other written communication by women from medieval times up, they are often lamenting the fact that they are property, and considered less than, men. Any men. Because much of what women do is integral to keeping family, community and culture alive, it's invisible and therefore not valued -- even today.

Ellen hits the nail on the head when she pointed out that we have all been taught to value a *paying* career, and to excel in it. That's because, as I said, the work of keeping the home and family intact is completely undervalued by everyone, even today.

What I would hope would come out of further discussions toward communities that abide is a frank recognition of the contributions women make, without devaluing them because of their sex. For centuries women couldn't own property, couldn't vote, couldn't manage their own lives. Let's please not go back to that.

Anonymous said...

I still remember the time some dudebro asked me "So what do you do?" I said "Well I'm a stay-at-home dad." He said "No but what do you DO?" I'm like, dudebro, isn't that enough? I'm at it all day long and I have almost no free time, so I'm pretty sure that's what I do. That's when I realized making humans has no economic value.

It's funny, the me of today would probably be much more smart-assical. I might repeat the same answer s-l-o-w-l-y and LOUDLY like he's an idiot, which he was. Or I might start describing my duties in detail to annoy him: "Well, first I get up and change the shitty diaper and make sure the other kids have breakfast and make it to the bus in time..." Or I might just say: "I KIIILLLLS muthafuckaz."

What happened instead was that I mumbled something about my then-unfinished degree in engineering. Funny thing, even that doesn't really capture "what I do." I have created value in many different ways, most of which don't fall neatly under a job description. So that's another bias in the "what do you do?" question. It doesn't just under-value "human wealth," it also over-values specialization.

AlohaPat said...

Aloha Ellen and Dimitry,

And a deep bow to both of you for your thoughts in this series on communities that abide. Ellen, your comments were especially meaningful and appreciated pertaining to the value and roles of women. Far be it from me to do anything but honor and respect your points of view. I would just add that in my years of personal and professional experience that I have come to value women no matter what role they may have chosen to take. Most of the time, women play multiple roles as mother, colleague, friend, counselor, etc. In each situation, I have come to appreciate the many gifts and contributions that women bring to these roles. My dearest friends have tended to be mostly women as they were usually somewhat more able than my dear male friends to sense and understand more deeply the inner workings of my heart and mind. Organizations, leadership teams, families, friendship circles, and all forms of human and non-human relationships have always been better served when women and the feminine qualities they have so often personified have been fully present and valued on an equal basis with men and the masculine. I could not imagine any abiding community being successful without the qualities and contributions of women and the feminine in the many different roles they are able to fulfill.

With many kind regards,
Patrick Linton

wiseman said...

I think the reality is mixed, I am from India and (almost) all married women in my mothers generation were stay at home moms, did they not desire to go out and work like men..of course they did. Who doesn't like financial independence.

I can guarantee you that the divorce rates would have been much higher too if women could take up jobs, I can't imagine the amount of bullshit that the women in my mothers generation had to endure. And all of that because they had nowhere to go.

Having said that the pendulum has swung to the other extreme recently as it often does, the portrayal of house work as demeaning is as bad as depicting a working women as vamp. I don't think there is any one version of reality here.
The bottom line is that if you provide purchasing power to people they will grab it with both hands. Success is also relative, 50 years ago it was much easier to be a home maker as they were no other options, nowadays it's much harder if you have a choice.

Unknown said...

Ironically, wealth being an economic term the difference shown by the previous examples cited is that offspring without property tends to be an economic burden rather than an asset. For the Hutterites a large family means more shoulders toward a common wheel, but in the inner city that leverage works to impoverish rather than enrich.

Not that I completely disagree with the guest post. I gave up a McMansion and a Porsche collection to become a stay-at-home dad living happily in a house smaller than my former garage and without a car of my own.

Facebook is my only consistent link to the outside world and if it results in envy or gossip that says more about the kind of friends one has than the platform itself. We use it to share photos with family, schedule activities for our church group, and submit requests for assistance from our church family. It does not not force anyone to use it any particular way.

History shows owning property can mean the difference between a family being miserably impoverished or healthy and happy. My grandparents weathered The Great Depression on the family farm when those without a means to provide for themselves fared much worse so I spent $10,000 on a few affordable acres and the materials to build a cabin that produces its own heat, meat, power, and water so my family has a nongovernmental safety net.

My parents did not plan for adversity so I remember what it is like to go to bed hungry as a child and maybe that is why I believe it is easier to build family with a full stomach and clean water to drink.

If there is to be an economic collapse as Orlov is famous for advocating, opportunities after rebuilding begins will initially be limited to those who can afford them as in the past. The monster box of Silver Eagles I set aside for each of my children could buy them a professional apprenticeship where they might otherwise be "wealthy" beggers.

Unknown said...

just a note on the Home and Hearth bit:

I do find "home' today more about a place to live or "how many places i own and where".

when I mentioned home and women I was speaking about human purpose and culture in societies that don't call themselves nomadic.Although nomadic tents probably have more substance than "settled" life in this age.

i meant nourishment and security the requirement to acknowledge this fundamental quality of human endeavour.

my point is why constantly look for outside solutions and not hone to betterment what has been created.

Thanks to all for the lively debate.

forrest said...

Marrying out -- as opposed to marriage within a community... So long as you aren't getting obvious genetic defects, which you wouldn't for some time given basically healthy founders, the 'practical' thing is to keep the goodies within the group.

When do you want allies? When you've got neighbors, all of you eying nearby resources [That 'greater-than-replacement' birthrate notion needs to be looked at carefully!] and your group is #2.

There's a kind of logic puzzle, dealing with the relations of abstractly-conceived 'pirates', trying to work out how to negotiate the distribution of a treasure chest. Two guys, the toughest just grabs. Three guys, #2 throws #3 a doubloon and they kick #1's ass. Etc.

People aren't that cold. Groups of people are!!!

Anonymous said...

Ellen's post legitimately belongs in a Women's Studies university class, but they would never allow it. It shows that universities are not always about learning. I'm a woman who has been single all my life (late 40's) and I'm not offended in the least. I actually like to think about wide-ranging concepts (which is why I read Club Orlov!). This blog site is NOT here to offend; the intention is to help.

I have found Dmitry's series on community culture to be more helpful than the sociology class I took in college. The American social and economic climate for decades has allowed SOME groups to have a comfortable middle class or upper-middle class position, and although many have lost that position, many more still have it. But for how long?

This is why reading Club Orlov is beneficial: Dmitry bases his writings on the "potential" economic decline and collapse, and "if" such a thing happens, then many of us are indeed without the family unit cohesion/survival that other sub-cultures have. The potential fall-out is not pretty, and it has been gradually happening for years.

Example: I observe many people who inherit money, and run through it, leaving them without financial back-up (which has been so important in American society for a comfortable and "independent" life). They do NOT have a cohesive family unit, and are unable or unwilling to get one, and will not become a part of an alternative cohesive community. They want their individualism and independence. They want the life they had.

I was shocked to hear that someone had been living in her forclosed house for 2 years! I see people at 7-ll driving newer cars and paying for food with EBT cards. People are slip-sliding away economically, but again, want to hang on to their independence and the "American Dream." Wait til more pensions go under--some already have.

I love my life, but I'm considering options I never thought of before, because if long-term economic contraction is permanent, then American society as we knew it will not be returning.

Anonymous said...

Excellent essay! it's worthwhile to consider how modern Western ideas of women's identity developed. in a pre-industrial society the family's focus, and means of survival, is the farm. Men work with their hands outdoors. Women work with their hands indoors. Nobody could possibly do all of the work alone. Even in a village or commune, everyone is contributing to the common good and virtually all material goods are created by someone you know (remember, this is PRE-industrial). Everyone has value because everyone's contribution is tangible.

In an industrial society several things change in very important ways. Men stop working on the homestead and go to work at jobs (not crafts but employment). In this world, one gains more social status for the less actual work that they do and for the increasingly larger salaries that they make.

Meanwhile, at home, the husband's income along with the availability of manufactured goods makes it unnecessary for women to engage in domestic production and craft work such as sewing clothes, canning food, etc. In fact, not purchasing these things becomes declasse'. Rather than being a source of vital household goods, the housewife becomes a "shopper." At a slightly higher social/income level (pre WW2), even middle class families can afford domestic help which is yet another, greater, mark of social status. The wife becomes increasingly distant from running the household at all and, once again, doing so is declasse'. Eventually, the wife is little more than her husbands trophy and a social hostess. Even charity work has increasingly moved from a local activity to being a professional corporate, government, enterprise.

Of course, in the past fifty years, economic changes have brought basic household maintenance back into the family but the aura of social opprobrium still clings to them. It remains true that the survival of the family depends not on productive skill but on income.

From a long-term historical view, the relative inferiority of women was a result of their lack of political power which was due to the fact that political power was gained through raw physical strength.

Beginning in the mid 19th century women began demanding social "equality." This was partly because the spread of democracy made social hierarchy of all types less tolerable but also because this is the point that true home making began to be debased to mere house keeping by the industrial revolution.

It's worth noting that even the drive for Women's Suffrage (NOT that women voting is bad thing!) was led by upper middle class women, not rural farm wives. One hundred years later, it was not poor women desperate to go to work on assembly lines fighting for Women's Liberation, it was primarily female college graduates wanting access to professional jobs.

Keeping house and raising children is still an arduous undertaking, but social prestige doesn't acquire to effort. As long as social status is directly tied to money earned, housewifery will never receive the appreciation it deserves and those seeking social status will have to compete for it in the world of business.

Spaz Galore said...

Leave it to a woman to rationalize kids in an un-enlightened self-righteous post. Kids are a 24x carbon footprint which they use the man to experience their ego, vanity, and sexuality with whom they love much more than the man.

How ethical is it bringing kids into a dying world run by sociopaths that fiat currency and corrupt institutions enable? Let alone women are hard-wired to seek security which attracts them to sociopaths which they rationalize in their intellectually vacuous values of money, power, status - as a success for their ultimate cuterus goal of children.

How many women are concerned about a man making money fraudulently as long as he is a good husband, or father, (as long as he provides security).

How complicitous have women been in driving the egregious waste of resources that the community individuality creativity destroying corporate suburban happy motoring dream has been that they show off like shoes that they proudly indoctrinate their kids into.

Women are proving to have just as much unenlightened selective consciousness as men in corporations, law, and education (which self-select for people who are deferential to authority).

Rarely is there a woman like a Rachael Corrie standing up for what's right and promoting intellectualism and truth to power.

Or how often do women challenge the unfair marriage laws? The sign of a sociopath is a person who is manipulative (imposes their will on a child and husband), poor at seeing the future, and shallow (intellectually vacuous).

Women's potential like humanity was destroyed by testosterone and the sociopathic self-important alpha-gorilla which has made culture into the image of himself. The inter-species predator parasite is not nurturing or creative or honest - they just want power and control of others which women have evolved to have no resistance towards hence they often think Oprah is a sage.

Andrew Butt said...

"Wealth is in the people who are willing to do whatever it takes for you and for your community."

Well said. Best summary sentence for the topic of communities that abide.

azrevasive said...

How will the "loner" fit into such a community? I am affected by Social Anxiety which causes me to avoid social interaction. I understand community is necessary but social interactions cause intense unconditional stress (which NO ONE seems to understand). It's either be social with physical symptoms of stress or be at ease and alone.

PhilJ said...

The author writes "and you have, say, even as little as 4 children" . Splutter, cough, what?! Has she not heard that there's 7 thousand million human beings already? "As little as"! Oh my, better not be too many of her persuasion around or all my abstinence is wasted. Whatever happened to the 'replacement level only' philosophy.

Unknown said...

Note on environmental and other social respect movements from India:

when I pondered about older and smaller assertive movements, I found that the scale and range was small but more intense.

Bigger movements are led by people who either come from the elite or become a part of the elite.Since the scale is large it also tends to be superficial and therefore in the end regressive( cheap oil is not the only thing that ruins the environment).

In India many women leading these movements are closer to Berkeley or Columbia than any rural woman socially.Mobility has made this phenomenon only easier.Occult and metaphysics often form the basis of faith/traditional social ethos and most of these women are closer to the Ph.D rational West.

so the good they do in the end actually will result in bad, since organic growth will not take place be undermined and a future generation inherits an assertive,chaotic society.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Some people here have voiced the idea that having children is a bad idea. Well, it's only a bad idea if you want to go extinct. Putting together climate instability with the fact that antibiotics no longer work much of the time, nor do herbicides and pesticides, and throw in the fact that a few generations of easy access to Caesareans has bred a large population narrow-hipped women (who would have otherwise taken themselves out of the gene pool by dying in childbirth) and you get two results: 1. a die-off, and 2. difficulty in reproducing. If 2/3 of the children and, say, 1/3 of the mothers die in childbirth, then there will be plenty of pressure on those that don't to have as many children as possible.

Paul said...

"The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career."

C S Lewis

RanDomino said...

Although, yes, as you said before, sexual dimorphism does actually exist (with a big asterisk), GENDER dimorphism is a social construct which we would do well to get over.

SandWyrm said...

@Spaz Galore

"How ethical is it bringing kids into a dying world run by sociopaths that fiat currency and corrupt institutions enable?"

The world is full of excremental people and institutions, Spaz. But who is going to fix them, if the smart, educated, caring people do not have children?


Will the teeming, 3rd world masses stop having children? If not, then your own abstinence will do laughably little to stem the tide of global overpopulation. While helping to deprive the human race of it's most creative and thoughtful gene-lines. Those of us who care about these issues need to have 3+ children, and teach them to compete for the resources they'll need. Not give up and descend into the easy comforts of defeatist materialism. As the world crumbles around us.

SandWyrm said...


"How will the "loner" fit into such a community? I am affected by Social Anxiety which causes me to avoid social interaction."

As a fellow introvert, I can very much relate to this. But there are things you can do, as I have, to find that community. Though it may require some drastic life/career changes on your part to realize them fully.

First, thanks to the internet, it's now much easier to find and hook up with others who are very introverted. If you can determine your precise Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality type, then there are often type-specific groups you can find through websites, like meetup.com, to socialize with. For me, the local INTJ group was an absolute godsend at a very lonely time in my life.

Second, if you have no sense of community where you live, you will have to relocate to someplace more agreeable/welcoming. For me, this meant giving up my glamorous west-coast tech job in order to return to the Midwest, where I grew up. Suddenly, I had my family and childhood friends to socialize with. I was also amongst 'my own people' in terms of shared culture and attitudes. That makes a huge difference.

Third, you can put your mind to learning how to properly communicate with (and attract) the opposite sex. Various 'how-to' books exist on this, which explain rationally what most people 'just get' on their own. Once I realized that I was being more nice than interesting, my dating opportunities increased over ten-fold. Two years later I met my wife, who is about as perfect a match for me as I could possibly ask for. We met online, of course.

After we married, I was welcomed into her social networks too. I now have her (much larger) family, great neighbors that I talk to every day, and a church with people that I know well. I've also (though blogging) become an international opinion leader in a particular niche hobby. Which means that wherever I go in or out of town, I'm recognized by members of this group.

So what it really boils down to is making community a goal of just about everything you do. From career decisions, to who you date/marry, to where you live, and how you spend your free time.

Now, if your anxiety is especially bad, you will have to make some drastic dietary changes. Ditch the processed foods, and get your health in order. Or your anxiety will only worsen. This takes a long time to do, and you'll make mistakes along the way, so get started now.

Finally, be aware that certain types of visual/audio stimuli (TV, action films, video games, goal-less web surfing, and especially porn) can often become sensory addictions used to 'self medicate' anxiety. Which, once the stimulated hormones and neurotransmitters are depleted, will make your anxiety FAR worse over time than it otherwise would be. On a neurological level, these differ very little from a drug addiction. So make sure that their use doesn't become a crippling compulsion.

Good luck!