It seems odd that as technology brings us closer, we are perhaps more isolated than ever.
There’s the obvious, we live on the internet, many of our “friends” we have never met in person. Many of our “friends” don’t even fit the definition of “friends”. Social Media, Facebook in particular, has altered the names we give to relationships.
The anonymity of the internet has lead to a good deal of antisocial behavior, aggression is easier when you are not face to face. I had expected that to soften a little, as identifiers changed from aliases to actual names, but it hasn’t. Someone on line now provides their name, address, family tree, and place of employment, and feels comfortable making aggressive, profanity laden comments in public.
Yes, it’s public. All this fuss about internet security is ridiculous. If you put something on the internet, it’s there forever (“forever” being defined as until we run out of electricity). Anything posted on the internet has all the privacy of the front page of your local newspaper. This begins with any profile information you place on social media, and continues through any purchases you make on line, all the way to your electric bill. And that’s just what you’re telling people on purpose. How concerned are you about the NSA reading your emails if you’re using public WiFi hotspots? Has it occurred to you how wonderful it is that advertisers have ads for just what you’re looking for on every web page you visit? Every word you type is being read by a number of computer programs, mining for data.
As the world looks into every aspect of our lives, we find ourselves walking a tightrope of self expression over a crevasse of public judgement, protected only by a net of self confidence. That was rather poetic ;~) Fear of “being judged” or offending others stifles the very freedoms we cherish. Children singing Christmas carols were told to leave a store’s property because “It might offend someone”. Not being able to sing carols offends me, in case anyone is interested.
A recent photo of model Gisele Bundchen breastfeeding while having her hair and nails done has drawn a number of comments. Ignoring the fact this is a posed and airbrushed image, designed as a publicity stunt, it is quite wonderful to think that this abberation of the human form retains the humanity to function as a mammal. That’s right, those bumps on the female were designed to feed offspring, they are glands so intertwined with our identity as members of Class: Mammalia they are named Mammary Glands. Due to their secondary function as an erogenous zone, they are also referred to as “naughty bits”, and must be hidden, as we isolate ourselves from what we are.
A six year old boy was expelled from first grade in Denver, Colorado for “Sexual Harassment”. He kissed a female classmate on the hand. Okay, he had been asked to stop by the teacher, but there is no record of any complaints from the little girl or her parents. The little boy has stated that he “has a crush” on the little girl, but school rules prohibit touching. Touching is the most basic form of establishing reality, it is the first sense we rely upon. It is the sense we use to express closeness. It is the lack of intimacy that allows people to kill strangers en masse, just in case anyone wants to check on this kid ten years down the road.
Children used to play together. Social skills were valued. Today we sit them in front of a video display, where they watch television shows about rude and violent behavior which carries no consequence, play video games that reinforce a sense of detachment, and engage in “friendships” with people with whom they have no physical connection. It’s not real, and you can’t hurt people who aren’t real. But those people on the internet are real, and they are equally isolated, so when the thoughtless comments become overwhelming they have no support system. We call it “cyber bullying” and act as if it’s an aberration.
Far more important than the headlines are the subtle ways we move away from each other. Take for example the Kuerig coffee maker. Individual cups of coffee produced at a premium price. By the time the fourth person’s coffee is ready the first person has finished their cup, so the social event of sharing a cup of coffee takes second place to each person having their very own special blend. Reinforced isolation flavored with snob appeal.
We are preparing for the collapse of civilization. We have systematically moved our arts from hard copies, such as paintings, photographs, vinyl analog recordings, and books trading them for packets of electrons arranged as .jpeg, mp3, and .dx. We don’t even keep our electrons, entrusting them to “the cloud”. Book burning has been replaced with electromagnetic pulses. There will be no record of our society, and our communication skills for a verbal history have been reduced to “you know what I mean”.
Be aware of your surroundings, and the people around you. Smile, say hello. Humanity is contagious, spread it.