If you have been in this world for the past 20 or 30 years you may have noticed that society has changed radically during your lifetime. Even if you have not been around for that time, you may have noticed significant changes.
People within society have become increasingly separated from each other, becoming merely a mass of unconnected individuals. Although the ‘individual’ is an important aspect of society, it is only one of many. Society has become increasingly fragmented – individuals and separated groups existing in the same space each looking to make sure their position is protected.
If you think about your own society and your position within it, what does it consist of?
First there is you. Then you may have immediate family. You may have friends. You may have work colleagues. Or you may have none of these and interact with those around you occasionally. There can be many variations to this depending on your personal circumstances. But what about the wider society you live in. For example, are there different groups within your society? Do they interact with each other? Do you interact with them? Does your society really feel as though it has a common bond and is connected? Do you feel as though you are really part of the society in which you exist, or do you feel you are merely yet another body within it? Perhaps you feel lonely even though you are supposed to be part of something?
Many people within today’s societal structure feel separated and alone. Even though they may have ‘friends’ and family, many of
these relationships may seem superficial, or may seem as though ‘something’ is missing. Perhaps a connection of some description – a feeling of really belonging.
So why should people feel that way when we are supposed to live in a ‘connected society’?
One contributor could be that we are not really connected at all. Although we have lots of electronic devices to facilitate some form of communication, they are far from being a suitable substitute for personal face-to-face interaction.
It is estimated that up to 90% or more of our social communication comes from ‘reading’ each other. That is non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions, smell, touch, and so on. If we use only one (or maybe two) of our senses we are not communicating fully.
For example, think of someone you may communicate with using different methods. Perhaps talking to the person on the telephone is different to taking to them in person. The differences may be small, but the small things form an important part of our inter-personal communications.
We are social animals. We need face-to-face contact with others so we can discuss and learn and develop theories and ideas. This interaction is what makes us able to decide what we think and what to do individually and contribute to the way our society is formed. By communicating face-to-face the discussion of a topic will follow a natural flow to a conclusion – something that is very difficult using electronic means. Either communications become fragmented and lose meaning or communication (especially written) may be misunderstood/misinterpreted. People need to feel connected to each other – using all of their senses – to make decisions and form plans of action.
Most electronic means of communication have their uses. But it is far too easy for them to become and intrusion to, or distraction from, normal inter-personal communication.
The fragmentation and separation of society had happened for a reason. In effect, those in power need to make sure that tension and separation exists within society. By ensuring this happens, they also ensure that society or groups within society remain separated. Through being separated communication (real communication) between groups and individuals becomes diluted – thereby reducing the chance of any significant action against any policy which could destabilise society being significantly objected to.
You may think that with the internet becoming a major source of information for many people, and the government introducing e-petitions and similar initiatives that it would be very easy to object to anything the society may object to.
However, if you take a close look at the government backed schemes you may notice some very strict terms and conditions under which any submissions to the government are considered. The reality is that these schemes are nothing but attempts to make people think they have a voice in their society – nothing more – an illusion.
The internet can be a useful resource of information, provided the information you are looking for is not too radical or too threatening to those in power. In some cases, those in power advocate the use of the internet to communicate with government departments. You may think that is perfectly reasonable in the modern age.
Have you considered the covert and overt legislation that is proposed and has already been introduced to control your access to the internet, and the right of those in power to monitor your internet activity? Look in to it and you may be surprised. At the same time it may be worth researching how much access government departments have to your mobile connections. It could also be worth looking at how the large corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, Google etc collect and use data – and who they share it with.
Not everyone has regular access to the internet, and not everyone will access the same information or use the same communication methods. So the intensity of communication can be spread over a very wide selection of resources.
With communication based on electronic devices and spread over a large range of methods, it is highly unlikely that any meaningful organisation of activities can be accomplished unless those involved have an established interest in some way. It is quite different to meeting in person and encompassing a wider range of the society In which we live.
The focus has increasingly become on the individual rather than society and has created a ‘me, me’ culture. A culture that has little chance of organising itself as a challenge or a threat.
Perhaps we need to re-learn how to really communicate with each other – how to reach out and encompass as many members of our society as possible for the greater good and objective.