Sweating, tripping over his own two feet, a man cries out for anyone, anyone, to answer him. He stumbles around a strange town, completely devoid of any human life. Finally, he is rendered exhausted and terrified, repeatedly pushing the button at the crosswalk, begging for help.
I sat down the other day and watched the first episode of The Twilight Zone. For those of you too young to know what that means, it is NOT a convention of #TeamEdward enthusiasts. It’s an awesome show that started in 1959. Check it out. (Yes, it’s on Netflix.)
The very first episode ever aired of The Twilight Zone is called “Where is Everybody?” and most of it is as I described in the first paragraph. At the end, we find out that the man is part of an experiment with NASA, and has been alone in a box for two weeks to simulate a lonely trip to the moon. The entire episode is the hallucination he has when he finally cracks.
But why does he crack?
As the episode’s outro (creepily) puts it:
The barrier of loneliness: The palpable, desperate need of the human animal to be with his fellow man. Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting … in The Twilight Zone. (via Wikipedia).
This may be science fiction from the 50s, but this idea rings true as long as humans exist. We need other humans. I have no doubt that you yourself would go absolutely bonkers without human interaction of any kind for an extended amount of time.
While there probably isn’t anyone in your school, workplace, or hometown who hasn’t seen or spoken to another soul in two weeks, there are definitely people who self-isolate, or feel ostracized. They may not start to hallucinate like our lost man above, but their mental, emotional, even physical health will start to deteriorate. To feel unaccepted and left out can sometimes even lead to suicide or violent behavior, in extreme cases.
As a leader in your community, it’s your responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen, as best as you can. At Swift Kick, we strive for a world where everyone feels welcomed, connected, and engaged, wherever they are. We do this by helping leaders build cultures that foster these feelings.
It doesn’t take a lot to start this positive culture building. You can simply:
- Say hello to those you encounter
- Practice Random Acts of Kindness
- Introduce yourself to newcomers
- Connect people to each other through a common interest
Clearly, if Rod Serling chose the topic of isolation and the human psyche as the very first episode of The Twilight Zone, it’s kind of a big deal.