I woke up one morning and found myself living amidst an accumulation of people rather than in a SOCIETY. I knew that something was wrong. I’ve known it for a long time, but it took me awhile to figure out what was bothering me. The sense of isolation, born of anxiety and electronics, has escalated to the point of anarchy. You might be thinking that my generation defined anarchy in the sixty’s, but I think there is a difference. The Baby Boomer Revolution was held together by a sense of unity. It required interaction and cooperation towards a goal. At the heart of it was the Civil Rights Movement. From there, it branched out to women, gays, and dress codes. Not that it was all righteous. It set in motion the current trend toward bad manners and drug-induced escapism. Worse, under the guise of giving them freedom, many of us abandoned the next generation.
The movers and shakers of today’s revolution, whatever our age, seem to be focused on winning and held together by Facebook and Twitter. I know that young people rallied themselves in the last election, but the initiative came from a political organization and not from the grass roots. It will be a few years before we understand exactly what was gained (or lost) in the last presidential campaign, but the momentum seems to have dissipated fairly quickly as people went back to trying to keep up with their own lives and ensure their electronic place in the world.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not down on electronics. I’ve started three websites and I love my email. I don’t do electronic social networking yet, but then I’m a bit of a recluse. I really don’t want to hear from everyone in the world I’ve ever met on a regular basis. I am, however, concerned about the use of virtual reality to escape real reality — e-denial — and the prevailing idea that it’s a good thing.
I’m also concerned about the new e-weapons: nasty blogs, humiliating videos, and the ubiquitous e-weapon of choice, the cell phone. I was checking out at Trader Joe’s one day last week, when a woman arrived at the checkout station next to me. She was pushing a stroller with one hand and holding her phone to her ear with the other. She positioned herself so close to me that we were almost touching shoulders. Because of her son’s stroller, she was also slightly to the back of me, which meant her conversation was aimed over my shoulder and directly into my ear. When I turned to look at her in annoyance, she started talking louder to punish me for minding. I’ve noticed it’s a knee jerk response. “When challenged, escalate obnoxiousness. Win at any cost.” I see it happen to other people. I know it’s not just my inability to control my own negative reactions. I’m living in an accumulation of people whose goal is to hand off their own stress to someone else. It’s e-musical chairs. Keep moving. Don’t lose your place on the conveyor belt. As long as it’s e-prettier, e-faster, and displaces someone else, it’s e-good.
Back to Trader Joe’s. I left there that morning with a smile on my face. I managed to successfully disengage from the battle of wills. I said “Thank You” to the gentleman who checked me out and packed my groceries. I came home and had a very productive day, but I’ve been thinking about the incident off and on ever since. The e-perpetrator placed herself a good two feet away from her own checkout station, in order to invade my space. Her son fidgeted in his stroller as she worked hard to ignore him. Her responses to whomever was on the other end of her e-conversation were half-hearted and bland. I’ve been paying attention to this type of encounter long enough to be sure that the primary focus of her attention was her e-assault on me. Why? How did she benefit? What could she possibly gain? The answer I keep coming up with: connection. The accumulation of people I live among (at least some of them) have become so isolated and numb that annoying other people gives them a sense of belonging to the physical world. It’s their only reprieve from e-life.
Am I making too big a deal out of this? I don’t think so. People are texting while they drive and are outraged that our governing agencies are trying to stop them. It’s all reached e-insanity.
I know that the human race is always evolving to higher levels of spiritual awareness. E-escapism is somehow helping us to move to the next stage of development. That’s what I’m going to tackle next with this line of thought. Where does this piece of the puzzle fit into the bigger picture? What are we all trying to teach ourselves?
Copyright © 2010 by Anna Jedrziewski. All rights reserved.