Not exactly certain what recent posts I’ve made public or kept private, but the topic expressed in the video above has generally been weighing heavy on my mind once again this year. Perennial concern I might as well consider it by now. Loneliness, lack of tribe, superficial social connectivity (e.g. bar pals, association via job alone, association purely for the sake of entertainment without bonding, etc.), isolated living and losing a sense of purpose to our lives seems to be a hallmark of modern life in what appears to me to be a failing civilization project.
It’s such a queer inquiry since, on one hand, we have so much to appreciate modern life for (such as certain technologies and medicines and comforts that enhance our quality of life), yet, on the other hand, we’re rendered less whole and less capable of functioning in a psychologically healthy manner as a direct result of several aspects of how life is being structured nowadays. Plenty still prefer to argue against this point, claiming the problem ultimately resides in us individuals who aren’t adapting properly, but I’m wondering if perhaps we’re expecting too much out of human beings when we assume that proper adaptation (whatever that means) is possible or that it itself doesn’t entail some very antisocial features.
On that last point, antisociality appears to be becoming normalized. For example, the individual who lives alone, works alone (or works remotely via computer), and who expresses disdain toward his fellow humans, preferring to not engage with the rest of us as much as possible (at least not in person) — is that not becoming more common these days? And are we not treating it as if it’s no big deal, dismissing it as harmless introversion and showing little to no concern so long as the individual in question remains gainfully employed and therefore contributing to our modern (primarily economic) perception of the common good? We call it a choice and like to regard it as a rather benign choice at that. But is it really? No consequences to this trend as we all go forward as a society?
Then again, I shouldn’t frame it as if we really care all that much about future sustainability for society since it seems clearly obvious by now that most can’t (or won’t) imagine beyond the next quarter or year and more rarely beyond our own lifetimes, children and their future progeny be damned. Might as well be honest about it. Mostly we pay lip service to giving a damn when really we care more about scoring points in our arguments today, wishing to come across as intellectual and morally righteous and forever inclined to cast the blame on that other group over there for whatever future problems may befall us as a people. Never our problem here today, especially not my own. But, in all fairness, we were all born into this and arguably are just trying to find our ways in the maze as it’s been constructed. Though I’d also argue that we’re co-creators of this societal maze since it has evolved throughout our lifetimes as well.
Anyway, antisociality is real and expresses itself in various forms. One currently popular form is preferring pets over people. We see it more and more, and no one seems the least bit taken aback by folks announcing such a preference. It’s treated almost playfully and humorously, yet some of us get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes reality and are aware of a growing number of individuals who live alone (or in what appear to be strained/empty marriages) and center all their (non-job-related) attention on their pets. And we hear these people speak of their fellow humans as “not worth dealing with,” contrasting the cruelty of humankind with the sweet naivety of animals. They’ve undoubtedly been hurt by people in their pasts and are retreating into the comfortable company of pets as an alternative, and I can see why that may seem harmless and even necessary in some cases. But the trend keeps mounting along with the attitude that likes to accompany it, declaring we humans to be jerks and monsters while Fluffy is immune to such evils. What worries me is the level of fantasy and escapism that is increasingly appearing bound up in that outlook. Do you imagine these people, despite their furry companions, are less depressed and/or anxious to where they’re at least less inclined to take prescription pills for managing their moods and worries? I’d like to see a study on that and am willing to bet that the comfort of pets still isn’t enough to overcome their sense of restlessness, purposelessness, and alienation.
Another form of antisociality that I am very familiar with is that which can come by way of frequent reliance on alcohol. Though here perhaps the primary goal is to escape our own selves, to get out of our own heads for a spell via temporary chemical lobotomization. And many of us would argue that alcohol can (or at one point seemed to) enhance our sociality, allowing us to more easily mingle with strangers and laugh and carry on. Problem with this strategy is it eventually proves addictive, as is the case with any dopamine-stimulating drugs. AND there’s a thin line between buzzed and outright drunk, the latter condition in no way proving beneficial for socializing over the long term. While we try to escape ourselves by checking out in this manner, we also manage to tune out from others also. Sure, we might go home and fuck them, but it’s not quality companionship and social bonding in most cases. The sex itself in these instances can be viewed as yet another form of escapism whereby we’re using the other person for our own personal sensual pleasure and to experience a temporary social connection without the formations of bonds or the acceptance of social expectations like further contact. In other words, it sets up shallow connectivity between chemically-altered persons who don’t give a damn about one another, which both tend to recognize the day after. Yet it’s oh-so-common, probably because we are lonely and this is one way to achieve physical contact and potential stress relief and a sense of comfort, however temporary.
Setting the sex aside, the barscene unto itself is problematic because of the culture common to it. No discussion of topics in real depth, particularly on matters pertaining to one’s spiritual journey or worldview. The name of the game there is entertainment, even if that means listening to horrific karaoke sung by sloppy drunkards-without-a-clue while overpaying for the supposed privilege to be there. Many of us have regretted our decision to spend so much time and money in such joints, yet we keep doing it because it’s a social venue we can easily access, especially in the late-night hours when our apartment walls threaten to drive us into comas of boredom. We’d rather go sit among a bunch of others and drink concoctions that rob us of our memory and ability to care much about one another. Can’t recall who said what and can’t really know one another, despite what emotionality may pour forth as the night wears on. Fake bonding that can’t be remembered clearly occurs. Superficial and relatively pointless, yet accessible more than practically anything else for those of us lacking tribes and families to turn to instead.
Then, drunks tend to engage in the next antisocial behavior so common to that lifestyle: we drive home in our altered states of mind. Demonstrating how much of a damn we truly give about one another and ourselves, numbed off to the fear of consequences (even after having experienced one or more O.W.I./D.U.I. or car accidents already). We cease caring about you or your laws or the future. Carefree living in the moment…
Also, it’s not uncommon for some to grow disenchanted with the overpriced barscene and to prefer instead to turn toward drinking at home so as to save money and be free from the idiot buffoons typical in that atmosphere. And that can easily turn into an antisocial situation itself, not only through avoiding people but by creating a situation where we can drink a great deal without checks and balances from others or cops. We can create a cocoon-type atmosphere when we drink alone, and that can unfold for years and turn into a very ugly situation in its own right.
Drinking and preferring animals over people are just two popular ways in which antisociality is manifesting these days. Not that alcoholism is a new trend, though us living alone opens up new possibilities there, new ways to conceal our problem from others and avoid detection from otherwise limiting factors.
Some might argue that intense video-gaming is another form of antisociality despite its social component since you’re each hidden behind screens rather than interacting face-to-face. Basically like each interacting from his or her own pod. Probably not all that different from the last several decades of people sitting glued to television screens, observing life unfolding as it’s been presented to us via those who wish to sell us products and propaganda. Then I get to thinking about people coming out about their porn addictions and how that negatively impacted their ability and willingness to pursue real, in-person sexual connections with others.
Then I veer off and get to thinking about all these people working jobs they don’t particularly like so as to buy stuff they don’t need, warehoused in houses they paid too much for, and all for what? Because that’s the prescribed way of life these days. THAT is commonly touted as success. Materialism over nearly all else. Slave to the economy. Is that way of life necessarily antisocial? No, but it possesses antisocial features as well, such as prizing economic interests over all else, particularly when it comes to one’s political outlook. That can’t help but impact society in various ways, including giving the impression to others that those disinterested in pandering to profit motives are useless bums unworthy of being brought into certain social folds.
A topic to continue on with another day.