Loneliness and Society

Adbusters had an interesting article on Loneliness and Technology. The focus of the article was despite how many people were connected through technology, we are still cutting ourselves from the full human interaction. I admit that I have this sickness as well — far better to email than actually converse with a person and have to deal with the minutiae of conversation. But, in that isolation we lose what makes us human; that fleeting contact where you have the opportunity to SEE that person you are dealing with – not some number, or job, or role (wife, mother,husband, etc…). To actually see that person, acknowledge their feelings, and empathize;in short be mindful of their presence. But, technology traps us in our own minds.

We interact not with people but with disembodied words on a screen, numbers and statistics. We lose sight of the real stories. Disconnected and isolated, no wonder we can, cheat, exploit and otherwise treat people we do not know with a great deal of callousness. How many products in our homes were made in sweatshops ? Do you buy Fair Trade coffee ? Chocolates made without slave labour? Factory farms ?

I do not think that is malady is just from modern technology. People have been treating each other poorly ever since the artificial distinction us and them came into being. It has gotten worse in terms of scale in modern times. Human society has been heading towards greater and greater isolation. We just built a garage. How could that lead to more isolation ? The garage is at the back of the house -it has been weeks since I actually talked to my neighbor; but we emailed.

How many people do you see walking down the street ? Compare this to India or China, where people simply can not afford to have a car. We drive everywhere, eat take out, watch TV in the privacy of our homes. Then wonder why our neighborhoods, cities and towns and full of strangers who do not care. Modern technology completes the isolation but in an insidious way — we think we are connected, but there is nobody at the other end except the projection in our mind. We have lost touch with the real world, the real people in all their smelly greatness.

It is ironic that I type these words on my blog, hoping people I don’t know read this.

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3 responses to “Loneliness and Society

  1. D'Arcy Norman January 8, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    People treat each other poorly in person as well. Wasting time with “how was your weekend? not long enough. working hard or hardly working?” filler is not really treating people better than a 30-second email exchange or a 10-second IM session… Much of face to face conversation is such mind numbing banality. I have more meaningful conversations and interactions online. But, friends having a meal with a good bottle of wine? yeah. I’ll take that any time.

  2. niransab January 10, 2007 at 4:46 am

    I think all this mind numbing interaction is because maybe we are interacting too much. Chickens establish social order in flocks less than 50 (I think this in the correct number) but once flocks start getting bigger, there is more fighting and aggression. Chickens can’t seem to organize their brains in social units bigger than 50.
    Are people really that much different ?

  3. Pingback: Meditating and Finding Real Community « Incredible Visions

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