A couple of months ago I attended a lecture of Ronald van den Hoff about all the technological changes that we will ran into the coming years. The visibility of all that we do seen by Google, Facebook, etc. and the technical medical improvements that are made to help us to live longer. And so on and so on. I was not very happy to hear about all this, but what made me even more ‘unhappy’ was the fact that there are people in this world, who are controlling our lives and the possibilities we have. The fact is we are all human beings, people of flesh and blood living in a digital society, but we do not seem to be able to take care of ourselves and each other? So I asked myself the question: “How did we create the lives we live now; ruled by other people, systems, telephones and other technical stuff? And where does this leave our personal bonds with the people around us?
Who are we in this digital world?
Now don’t get me wrong I am also happy with the improvements we have made technically, but I guess we could do without a lot of the things created. I guess we can agree that we all love our telephones, notebooks and computers. That we love the fact that we can watch Netflix on the go, that there is music all the time and that we can connect with friends all over the world on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I am a happy user of the sharing economy and use platforms like Camptoo, Snappcar and Peerby every now and then. But they also make us lazy in making personal contact in real life.
We wouldn’t need these things if we kept connecting with the people that are around us. For some reason we managed to live apart from our families, for me personally, I takes me a couple of hours to get to my family, so if one of us is in need, there won’t be any of us to help out immediately. And since I live in a city, I have never been able to really connect with the people around me. That is partly because I am happy being on my own, but it is also quite normal to live alone while your neighbors live pretty close, whether you live in a city or a village, nowadays there are always people nearby. I always try to get in contact with people while I am walking through the parks and streets of my city. But somehow, people do not like to make eye contact and are afraid of meeting new people.
If we were really in touch with our neighbors, we could just ask them for help when we need something. But we use Peerby instead or we have to get a caretaker to take care of the older people in our society. When Sapiens* became people and improved their lives during the agricultural revolution things started changing in the world we knew before. For years and years (like millions of them), we lived as tribes and we lived with our families together. Groups were not bigger than 150 people, because in this way we could live easily together without any management or government. People helped each other and really lived together. It was easy for youngsters to ask for advice with the elders and people took care of the elder people and the kids all together. For all kinds of reasons, groups did not grow and so they could move around looking for food and shelter when needed.
Who do you ask for advice?
Nowadays we live alone or with a couple of people in our own houses, we all want our own room (even all the kids) and want to close the door to get our privacy. And why is that? We really think we need a lot of time on our own, but is that really true? I mean in daily life people are working together in offices or other places and are never alone. People even tell me they want to go to work to meet people and have a social context. We don’t want to be alone. We are meant to be together and live in groups. It isn’t strange that we feel lonely in relationships, you can’t get everything you need from one person, you need others around you to feel inspired, safe and seen.
When we lived as hunters-gatherers women had sex with several men of the tribe to get the sperm of all the men together to create the best possible offspring. And they all raised the kids together. They felt a shared responsibility.
We created a world that is so far from where we once started and I am not surprised that many people are feeling frightened, alone, empty and are searching for a meaning in life. Because seriously, is this the life you really want? Working in an office 40 hours a week in a job, you do not really like, to pay for a house where you rarely spent your time because of everything you have to do?
What if we were more concerned with being human and really connect with each other, instead of doing things that you do not like, just because someone is telling you so?
We do not have to strive for more, better, smarter, faster, what we need is the opposite, less improvement, less stuff, slower, more creativity.
In my opinion striving for more and better takes us away from what we really are, human beings, wanting to connect and live a life full of pleasure and without all the seriousness that we seem to aim for these days.