Gentlemen, these are unique times we are living in. Life comes down to a choice. These are either times to seek deeper connections with others, opportunity, and growth. Or times that can push us towards the abyss of alienation. And yes, this abyss is staring right back. Alienation is a state by which an individual becomes isolated from the world around them. And this seems to have never been more accurate in the past 2.5 years of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this sense, alienation is a process of consciousness transformation that can occur both at a personal and cultural level.
Alienation, isolation, and division are spreading like a pandemic, perhaps the true pandemic of our generation. Be it in work, love/dating, or life in general, we seem to grow farther and farther away from each other. Worse father away from ourselves. This is not only detrimental to men but to civilization in general. And makes us wonder what society will look like in 5 or 10 years from now.
The question is, among other things, whether we should consider if the smartphone has replaced, Marley, the house dog. Or if technology has redefined humanity for the better or worse. These questions are not easy to answer. In that sense, social theorists struggle with it if we are to decide whether our society is in decline.
At first glance, the revocation of the digital world is easy for the cultural critic. Even before considering the “latest” smartphone, the next generation and iteration of it are on the shelves and in Youtube ads. So what is the point of penetrating a device in all its functional diversity?
Many feel the same way as sociologist Hartmut Rosa from the University of Jena. “The time I take to get acquainted with the things is getting shorter and shorter, and the feeling that I have with it, always stately”, writes Rosa in The Diplomatic World. “They are so great, and I do not understand them at all, I do not bother with them I can not wait until they have a little quirk so I can throw them away.”
Materialism gives us a false sense of fulfillment and joy. Perhaps in the same way that porn gives men a false sense of gratification. Or that being “a man” gives some men a false sense of superiority. Or perhaps because for some men comfort is more appealing than growth. Remember our recent article about the biggest problem for men? Yep, read it if you haven’t yet.
A Life Being Involved
One of the greatest risks men can experience is living in a state of permanent passivity. A state where we let ourselves be carried away, dragged by the stimuli and circumstance. Effectively limiting ourselves only to exist, but not to feel. That is where we dissolve in our obligations to such an extent that one’s life sooner or later becomes another obligation. Hope is then diluted from our horizon and men give way to an aseptic and purposeless existence.
We must have it clear: to live means to be involved. Especially in our communities and “tribes”. It means taking risks, taking courage as a shield even though fear grips us. And having a deep purpose to get up and fight for every day.
We are satisfied with what we already have. Even if it is not what we genuinely desire in life. We live this way because society has taught us that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. The irony of this is that when we open our hands, there is no bird, only feathers.
Alienation From The World
Many late-modern men suffered from a sense of alienation from things and the world. It’s not just about ripping with the digital world. This problem could be solved in many cases with the sledgehammer and the return to the analogous primitive work of the way of men.
This is a discussion that would hardly have been conceivable ten years ago. The term was too discredited by the paternalism of both left and right cultural pessimism. For decades, the discussion about alienation was automatically linked to the question: Alienation of what? Followed by a regimen of anti-depressants and other drugs with labels on them as follows: “M, T, W, T, F, S, S”.
This was followed by the speech about the false needs that people had been accused of. While he, the cultural critic, knew how to define the good life.
This essentialism is rightly dead…
The social philosopher, Rahel Jaeggi at the Humboldt University in Berlin, discussed this matter in her book “Alienation”. On the relevance of a social-philosophical problem pleaded again to ask the question of the good life – without requiring people how they have to live. She describes, among other things, how the unsuccessful life of people who feel alienated in their social roles, are dominated by unwanted wishes. And/or suffer from their indifference to their environment.
A gifted young mathematician, who once led wildlife between obsessive work and excessive nightlife. Eventually gets married, has a baby, and moves to the suburbs. He suddenly sees himself driving an SUV to the mall every Saturday to fill the freezer. Scurrying to get home in time to mow the lawn before the barbecue/game.
Almost inevitably he is shocked by the realization that his life is strangely frozen and numb. “The problem of the mathematician is the loss of control”, Jaeggi described in an interview in this situation. “He does not live his life, but his life lives on him.” For the analysis of such experiences, the alienation concept is suitable.
So is Alienation a matter then of letting life happen to you but not from you?
The Dark Side Of Work Alienation
The cases of those workers who are not enthusiastic about their work and who see it mainly as a means to survive, even if precariously, are relatively frequent. Despite the alienation imposed by the work, these types of cases are different. Because the workers do not have a special attachment to the work they perform, they carry it out because there is no other choice.
This latent discontent, and that each worker copes the best way he can, establishes certain limits to the level of commitment to his work.
It works to the extent that it is a source of sustenance. But there is no unconditional surrender to work, nor a special identification with it. Because of this, the worker has certain limits concerning what he would be willing to do for his work. Normally to maintain a regular income, work then becomes the source of innumerable torments.
Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Although this syndrome has not yet been accepted in the psychiatric manual, its existence is undeniable.
Under the name of parental alienation, a syndrome is known that consists of a child, apparently unjustified, constantly denigrates, insults, and rejects one or both of their parents. It is considered a psychopathological disorder present in children who have been subject to “brainwashing” by one of their parents. To damage the affective bonds of the child with the other parent.
Essentially, it refers to the child’s separation from one or both of the parents after a divorce. It is, in fact, a form of psychological abuse towards children.
It is known by all that children are often used as weapons in the separations of their parents. One of the parents can manipulate it in their favor, through insults, scorn, mockery, derogatory adjectives, disparaging, and discrediting the other to win the battle of custody.
This can lead to a separation of the child from the other parent, which is usually extended to his family, despising him with a hostile and cruel feeling. They assume as their own the feelings that have been inculcated through emotional manipulation.
The main victims of these manipulations are children with devastating consequences for them. In the same way, the consequences of this pandemic are to be seen in children. Time will only tell what sort of repercussions such events will have on the next generation of humans.
Meditation, Healthy Eating, Faith in A Higher Power
Rather, an alienated life is characterized by certain formal criteria, above all the fact that people independently pursue projects which they can identify themselves with. Is something somehow connectable, does it make experiences possible or does it hinder them?
In this respect, it would be nonsensical to praise each of the previous social states as less alienated. Rather, the academic social theory must once again dare to ask the systematic question of the good life. For example, is work organized in such a way that people can identify with it? Does visiting the pedestrian precinct cause a cold horror or invite you to linger?
It is unlikely that this question can be solved by reading the Lucky Guidebooks that pile up in the bookstores. Because this shifts the problem to the individual level: pets, meditation, healthy eating, exercise, and having a deep connection to a higher power can contribute to your well-being. But beyond that, it is again allowed to talk about the social framework conditions for a successful life.
This brings us back, life is a choice. In the same way, happiness is a choice.
Modern Man Advice