Are we becoming/being turned into single entity, i.e individual from being a community. This is not some rigorous research article or some philosophical pondering or some nostalgia for bygone era. This is some random stream of consciousness specific to this question of us becoming more individualistic.
Public transports will soon become a thing of the past. Those used to provide an opportunity for individuals to meet strangers and form a bond. That’s getting replaced with more and more people opting for private vehicles. Even those who use public transport are so engrossed in their tech gadgets, they hardly strike a conversation with strangers.
Going to movie halls used to be a fun activity. We get to theaters to not just watch movies, but also to see swathes of people in one place. We had even hoped to see our school/college buddies there. We could strike up a conversation with person in ticket counter or who hands us popcorns/ice-cream. We tend to meet people from all walks of life in a theater. Now we all started using streaming services and watch movies from our home. We like the comfort of being in our home and enjoy not being bothered by the presence of others.
Libraries used to be another place where people meet strangers. Now they are replaced by Kindles and tablets. Going to restaurants is being replaced with ordering food to home. Going to super market is replaced by home delivery of goods. Slowly we are getting cocooned ourselves into our own little bubble. We let only those people who share our views into the bubble and hardly see “others”.
This is not to suggest earlier it used to be all hunky-dory. Yet, there was an opportunity to mingle with totally unknown people. But that space is shrinking day by day. With the raging pandemic, the space has started shrinking faster. With work from home becoming more a norm than a rarity this social space gets even smaller. But, is there any alternative?
People might say we could on go to social media and find strangers to talk to. But can that replace real life face to face talk? Even in that space we might strike a conversation with those share our views. Others might say that we can still join some clubs and hangout. Again we are talking about people who share our interests. We are ensconcing ourselves again by these acts. We are not spreading our wings, as we could be. Is it needed?
One might ask what do we loose by not talking to strangers and becoming more individualistic? With the advent of social media and algorithm dictating what we see/read, we might not be knowing what happens outside our comfort bubble. Those in power can serve the news about a law/act in a way that interests us. We will not know about the consequences of the law/act passed by the government, unless we make conscious choice of looking for the news. Most people wouldn’t find time to do that.
Another consequence of this increased individualism, I believe, is the increased loneliness. This loneliness leads us to be part of some extreme groups (as suggested in this article). When we become more and more isolated from society would we ever come together as one and fight an oppressive regime? Would we question the perils of the economic system that keeps us working forever for the benefit of very few at the top?
I don’t have answers for any of these nor do I know if the question I posed is even relevant. But looking at this increasing phenomenon, Are we Humans – Social Animals, slowly becoming Anti-Social animals? It would be nice to end on a funny catch phrase I saw on someone’s Jacket “Anti-Social Social club”. Even if we are anti-social, we still want to be social to be part of that anti-social club.
PS: There always have been introverts and weirdos who never spoke to others. Don’t take them as examples.