Modernity

I was telling a friend how out of touch I feel recently, not just this past month, but over the years.

Of course I attribute this to a projection of my own circumstance, and I’m skeptical to assume that this is a malady facing society in general.

But I also feel that this narrative isn’t uncommon.

I wonder how many people feel increasingly out of touch with the world, but perhaps can’t put their finger on what they’re feeling.

I attribute it to my age, the consequence of growing older, to the my personal career choices, to my relationship choices.

But perhaps these choices are not unique to me, and the feelings they produce are not unique to me.

I wonder if my generation, if modern society, is feeling increasingly out of reach from one another, from life, from meaning.

I observe my daily habits, and remove the personalized importance I give them.

I observe the routines, not as a part of this meaningful lifestyle, but as a series of actions on inanimate objects.

I am a body of energized mass hurling through iterative routines, colliding with other masses is the environment, and these collisions comprise my relationships. I am a pinball bouncing from one place to another, in varying time and intensity.

My relationships, my interactions with the inanimate, or through the inanimate, has increased: Computers. Media streams. Emails. Apps.

The world comes to me, at my solitary convenience: Movies, groceries, mail, people, clothing, and the like.

In order for this post-physical community world to thrive and grow, solitude becomes even more important. Independence increases our dependency on the technologies that bring the world to us.

We do not choose what we know. It is chosen for us. The options are given. The prices are fixed. The system does the thinking for us.

The less we depend on others, the more we depend on the system, and the more our participation can be monetized, our labor, our thoughts, our preferences, our time.

There is a technological system that is replacing the function of physical community. Community was a dynamic system, capable of handling change.

Historically, community, the physical community, and the forum and neighborhoods it inhabited, promoted freedom of ideas, of thought.

It was as uncensored, and unregulated. We speak, and people heard.

We could speak to and negotiate and physically touch one another, and this visceral connection kept us anchored to each other, in a way that strengthen social ties.

Today that relationship is mediated by a system that taxes our participation. The mediation is a form of censorship. Advertising. Search results.

The tax is the price of accessing resources. Pay to play. We do not depend on the goodwill of people, but of technological systems, private or public. Platforms than aggregate all the demand, and control all the supply. These are the great regulators.

I’ve been feeling increasingly out of touch. As if there is an arbitrariness to the choices and the potential resulting outcomes.

Everything seems mundane. Trivial. The outcomes seem insignificant. The future seems to be arbitrary ideals pregnant with hope, but hope for what? I’m not sure.

I often wonder how much of my generation feels out of touch, and if they do, what they attribute this to. I’m curious if this is an isolated feeling, or if this is a signal from the collective unconscious that something is not well, and that the current path forward m is untenable, unsustainable. That the world we’re building, that we’re hoping for, is the exact opposite of what we truly want.

Which is, quality, meaningful, local physical relationships that we mutually depend on for nourishment of the soul. What we need is sustenance, and the ability to help one another.

And perhaps that exists for many people. But I wonder if the world we’re building is encouraging more of that, or less, and whether that’s something to look forward to and participate in, or revolt against.

One thought on “Modernity”

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