We live in the connected age. Everyone is contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We feel entitled to access other people, products and services at all hours of the day and night and even when we are on our own, music, internet and the threat or pleasure of someone contacting us, removes all sense that we might ever be in solitude.
We spend our days only ever half listening or half thinking. If we ever pause enough to focus it lasts only a minute or two and we are off again filling our mental space with ‘stuff’.
This is not for lack of trying. We try to concentrate and we try to slow life down but the secret is that we actually want to be distracted so that we are not faced with all the guilt of all the things that we cannot accomplish or that we do not want to accomplish in this lifetime.
Instead of contribution and satisfaction in doing what is right, we have now adopted only one measuring stick.
What do we want? What do we most want for our children?
But happiness and the pursuit of happiness leads us to distraction.
We seek only to be entertained, to have a life without responsibility and a life in which we get lots of ‘likes’ from others who are seeking the same absolution from responsibility.
Happy equals do what you want, when you want and don’t let needs get in the way of wants.
It creates a generation of people that care mostly for themselves and a world in which everyone believes they are king.
We expect others to meet our needs and become confused and frustrated because they can’t be bothered meeting our needs and that they are too busy being their own boss.
Then there are the ones who step out of this lifestyle and attempt to give to others only to find that they are burnt out and unappreciated.
The rest of the world looks at these genuine helpers and laugh or scorn. “You think you are doing the right thing but you are not happy and you have nothing to show for your lifestyle” they say.
Have we gotten so far off track that we can never get back?
We have a generation who works for 20-30 minutes a day to justify a full day of leisure. We have people who do not work at work but expect to be paid and we have people who are half present at work and half present in their own cyber realities. Even those who realise there is something wrong do not have the energy to change things.
Then there are those who say “let’s go back to the way it used to be” and people refuse to contemplate it. There are those who want to continue on the same way and there are some who want to move forward.
Some say “let’s have better things”. Some say “let’s have better relationships”. Some say “let’s have better technology” and some say “let’s just stop!”
Let’s use what we need and not get addicted. Let’s look at what we are growing or bringing into our world. Let’s just remember solitude. Some have been born into a world where they have never experienced it before.
Those who remember it, remember it fondly as a place of peace and a place where deep breathing and relaxation came easily. Those who seek it now however, find that it is gone. In its place only boredom. When those who remember say “why don’t we have a bit of solitude?” those who don’t remember say “why would anyone want to do that?!”
What we have forgotten is that in animal studies where mice live in crowded quarters with no solitude, they go crazy or die.
The suicide rate in Australia has now exceeded the death rates from motor vehicle accidents and even cancer.
Is it possible that times of solitude interspersed with times of face to face connection, with a real person, may reduce these statistics?
We need to reduce the liking and increase the caring for the sake of ourselves and others.
We have become a world of social phobics who do not know how to have a conversation that is not abbreviated, haphazardly typed or followed with some kind of ‘smiley’.
We see people who cannot enjoy a pleasant experience without posting about it on social media.
We have people who refuse to move or walk because they haven’t got their electronic step counter on for fear that their steps won’t be counted.
We are all seeking validation like children calling out to a parent, “look, look what I did”. We seek validation from others but we don’t get it. We measure our life in ‘likes’ but in doing so we diffuse the experience as we are having it.
So a test, a task, a challenge. Have an experience, talk with someone face to face or, spend some time in solitude, alone in your mind and enjoy it.
Go somewhere fun and don’t take photos, don’t post it on social media and don’t talk to others about it. Enjoy it because it is enjoyable, discuss it with yourself. See if you can keep some things secret not because they are not worth sharing but because the experience was meant for you and not for everyone else.
A little solitude may actually leave you feeling more connected than a whole day on line.