If I were to choose one central theme of what is dangerous about our lives today, it would be what I call our “culture of disconnection”. Being and staying alive used to require eye to eye, mano a mano, moments. Or at least the conscious understanding that other people exist!
Facing one another wasn’t always comfortable or seemlessly fabulous, but there we were sometimes, “socially anxious” with no pharmaceutical pills on hand.
If we don’t “face” or consciously acknowledge the other, do other people actually exist for us? This question nails the essence of where I live, the Los Angeles experience. The daily road warrior driving where arrival is a miracle, given that people just can’t be bothered with other cars existing until he or she crashes into one. But let me not digress.
When other people fail to exist for us where we live, how then do we grasp that people in other parts of the world exist? Wars are much easier to wage when people are unseen and “enemized”.
I do acknowledge that technological “connection” is the delight of a majority for whom it is connection. I just want to say, “Not so fast“. Let’s look at what we’ve lost and found. Let’s look at social results.
The brightest minds of the future will zero in on what I believe is a fundamental unhooking of human connection. They will understand that many people were relieved to disconnect. Thanks to email, twitter, facebook, and all virtual “connectivity” sites, words like “friend” (as in, how many thousands of “friends” on facebook do you have?) have been emptied of meaning and tossed into the fog of chat.
Even more alarming, this time is marked by the socially sanctioned ability to behave with extreme hostility, rudeness, even anonymity, providing unprecedented opportunity to strike out against others.
It seems like the “news” is all about reporting nasty feuds between celebrities and giving them a public forum to spit at each other. It’s an angry time with much that needs to be said. I’m just getting started.
I personally believe that this is a culture of disconnection because the culture normalizes and encourages the very worst in us to be exercised, hailed, and celebrated. How disconnected is that?