Loneliness is getting to the epidemic proportions and yet we have never been connected so much in the history of humankind with so many possibilities to experience now
Mind is thirsty for new experiences, but at the same time uses technology to build a shield against them — Family and friends archetypes — The problem of a bubble
Empowering technology is turning us into Robinson Crusoe, each one becoming stranded on our own islands
We are a problem solving machines, we tend to solve everything so fast and so elegantly, from an infinitely convenient little machines (think kitchen devices) to the time savers such as productivity and transportation apps/devices, but on this way of making our lives more convenient, comfortable and non manual, we have forgotten the key concepts of happiness. The sense of togetherness is slowly disappearing, as we roam this world freely, traveling and exploring different countries, different cultures, we feel disconnected from it all, observing the world from the safe distance. We put machines between us, even when we have a chance to interact with others in the foreign city, how many times did we reach for google map (when getting oriented) instead of old fashioned asking for directions? Google map is just the simplest of the examples. In reality we visit or even live in a country without making any local contact and then wonder why are we on the island, all alone.
Thanks to technology, the vetting process of who we want to meet is directly connected to our digitalized personas. Maybe this is the way it should be, after all, how can we discuss topics of interest with somebody in a foreign country who might have a completely different set of interests and a cultural background, and yet something is missing! It feels so lonely to travel and observe from a safe distance that technology provides. When we read about traveling stories and immersive experiences, some twenty or thirty years ago, this ideal world that was full of adventures seems even further away, and yet now we have many more opportunities to travel and experience. It seems that those people who were exploring new places, they had to employ social skills, they had to compensate on the lack of language and be incredibly open minded in order to be able to live as a part of community in some parts of say rural India, Africa and China where the old ways of living and social structures were still very strong. Not to mention even in urban areas the lack of language would make many adventurous stories, it is only in the last few decades that the English is rapidly becoming a universal language even among the general population, it is in a way contributing to the comfort of the visitor.
Mind is thirsty for new experiences, but at the same time uses technology to build a shield against them
It seems that the modern technologically empowering era opened us up in terms of moving around but closed us down in terms of social interaction. We fear the bad experiences of social interaction much more than the experience itself, and yet externally the world almost demands us to travel, and experience new things, to “work hard and play hard”.
Externally we are becoming a machine of new experiences but internally we feel disconnected from everything and everyone. There is a chasm between our technology empowered self sufficient self and the sense of feeling whole and truly self sufficient. We read thousands of self help books, and let our attention be grabbed by many more YouTube channels and talks and blogs about how to employ positive psychology and reach the optimum balance, but we are forgetting that the brain, while it is a machine in it’s own right, it can’t be optimized from above. The operating buttons are rarely on the layers of a consciousness that just simply repeats the mantra of the desired outcome. Usually and related to what little we know of our sub/consciousness, the layers of satisfaction, are directly linked to the achievements, often exploring the new areas, learning and connecting different contexts but we have made a grave mistake. We have banalized the process of learning, it has became a problem solving use of time, so that it can become a key to the achievement. We have all these keys, and achievements, we even capitalize on the Gamification stimulus through apps and interfaces, but we are left feeling empty and lonely at the end of the day, but instead we should feel the exhilaration of living in such a happy and technologically advanced era with so many achievements of the day happily ticked on a Todoist list.
Family and friends archetypes
It appears the buttons in charge of loneliness and happiness are closely knit together, they both require an open mind and thirst for learning, while behaving fearlessly towards the ultimate goal. The question is do we know our ultimate goal? Is it all in solving problems, finding the balance between our partners, family, friends, acquaintances, where is the line between each of them. They are social construct with thousands of years of successful survival (I am purposely saying successful because of the genetics that favors the survivor and survival depended on the tribe). Today we live in a world that finally doesn’t require us to have all these structures, social circles in such a clear cut definitions, because our survival doesn’t depend on it. In many cases we are experiencing alienations of family members, infidelity from partners because we are stuck on the romantic construct “until the death separates”, friends are becoming family in a way, acquaintances and business partners being so supportive that they are getting into the roles of what would sometimes be regarded a duty of a family member which is otherwise missing, leaving a hole and a sense of inapt.
This is all symptomatic of our modern times, but, no, we don’t feel melancholy towards the times past, but instead we are simply confused and afraid not to label and classify when it comes to social circles. At one end our civilization is pushing us to make ever more superior lists and classification systems when we are solving problems, building apps and websites, but on the other, socially as we live much faster lives, (the time is divided by those very same productivity apps into slices much shorter than before) we can’t afford to have expectations of building the social circles the same way our ancestors did. We live in the world that is hyper connected and yet everyone is in their own bubble because the normative filters are so strong as if our survival depends on them.
The problem of a bubble
The bubble has some strong filters that let in only what is expected to be safe for consumption. This is a survival mechanism that is in charge for food intake, but it doesn’t work quite as well when it comes to experiences of 21st century, and especially when it comes to experiencing the moment of now with other people. We have to broaden our perspective of acceptance, nourish an open mind that embraces someone from a different cultural background and step into the social role that is not as clearly defined by our social categorization. Walking that extra mile for someone might be a beginning of a wonderful relationship but at the same time a realization that it might not be reciprocated, and that should be fine and accepted because we are here on this planet to practice the positive change within if we want to see it around us.
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” — Albert Einstein. Time is the only problem that we can’t solve, we just have to learn to live with it in the most fulfilling way, the same applies to social connections.
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