The dance of the amber electric haze of our cities might incline one to believe that we are more connected than ever before. Human beings have never dwelt so close together nor with so many means to communicate.
Yet, as it turns out, none of the novelties of modern existence can truly be said to have made a significant impact on improving our relationships with others. Despite the numerous connections one can bounce an electric signal down for the sake of socialization, loneliness is now considered an ubiquitous disorder with deadly characteristics, reputedly increasing mortality risk by 26%.
So why all the loneliness? Why aren’t people reporting more connectivity with one another rather than feelings of isolation?
I could spatter this page with studies culled from publicly available databases, but the answer is pretty obvious. We are more isolated because of the fast-paced, novelty ridden, ‘adhere to your schedule because there isn’t enough time in the day’ society we have built around ourselves. We are isolated because the information explosion has polarized and fractured ideologies into depths that make it difficult to really agree with anyone anymore. We are feeling so lonely because our individuality has made us an enemy to every other cell in the metaphorical organism of the human collective.
The corollary of increased individuality is degraded solidarity.
To illustrate this concept, consider the condition of the human collective as the tissues of an evolved organism. In an ideal state of homeostasis, all tissues of the organism interact with one another in common interest (keep the organism alive). The blood feeds the heart oxygen, the heart pumps the blood, the kidneys clean the blood and regulate the division of red blood cells, etc. The organ tissues are harmonized in the solidarity of keeping the organism alive. But alas, the cells of each tissue have now decided (in light of new information and technology) that they no longer wish to maintain solidarity at the tissue level – that is, the cells of say a muscle have taken a liking to being something other. In favor of being an individual, the deviant muscle cells throw off the chains of their prescribed cellular function and fixate their ambitions on becoming true individuals. Well now, what do you have?
The result of such cellular individualism in an organism is known as cancer. The cell de-specializes. It loses its common function to the rest of the cells. In accord with this analogy we might say that global individualism means the disintegration of the whole organism (which means the disintegration of the world – its nations and peoples), and this is exactly what is mentioned in the latest NIC Global Trends report of the U.S. intelligence community.
Because of information technology, cultural diffusion now carries on at an advanced rate. It used to be that for one to assimilate certain characteristics of a given culture, such as language, etiquette, religion, etc., one would have had to come into direct contact with that culture – or at least translate some texts. This spatial impediment to the diffusion of culture and identity no longer exists now that we have the world-wide-web, and as cultural elements are shifted here and assimilated there, individual identities can become extremely complex if not contradictory.
In such a world, isolation is the natural effect of the proliferation of pastiche personalities with which one cannot relate.
But digressions aside, we are lonely because we have forgotten how to truly communicate with one another. It is one thing to send an email to a friend, or like his/her posts, it is another to call, and it is yet another thing entirely to show up at the person’s door just to ask how he/she is doing.
As we get more integrated, it is most necessary that we sharpen our aptitudes for genuine communication. If the cells of your body didn’t communicate effectively, you’d be fast-approaching death as you read this.