Mussels sheltering in rocks on beach

Modern challenges to relationship

Looking at the relationships between us, what’s the nature of modern life? It’s perhaps impossible to compare “how things once were” with “how they now are”, but it certainly seems that the way we communicate, relate and deal with people has changed fairly dramatically in recent decades (Notes One). Timeless human functions of relatedness taking on all these new forms and expectations.

So much now seems strangely confident and strangely resigned: these being our communicative options, this is simply the way things are going to go and what it now means to be human. As if going with this flow is the non-negotiable path of human evolution; the only means by which we can exist within our community.

Which is fascinating, in the sense that social relationships aren’t ever these straightforward interactions. The ties between us, the understanding of who any particular individual “is”, the unique way we each see and experience life are often so complicated, so hidden, and so unknown even to ourselves. Life being, in its way, this unravelling of all that’s made us who we are and all we, in turn, are making of it all (Notes Two).

Yet modern communication methods make everything seem so simple, so convenient in how they dovetail into this one device we all need to have. Not wanting to operate that way, aren’t we excluded from society, its services and conversations? As if “that” is where and how life’s now happening; without any parallel activity back in the real world.

Relationships often then seem almost a function of self: a set of connections with those we feel define, enhance or support our chosen way of being. As if our social ties have become this conveniently affirming group of all those we agree and want to move forward with; everyone else either evolving along with us or falling by the wayside.

The echo-chamber offered by technology – whether in terms of information or relatedness – rapidly confirming our own ideas to the point where our tolerance for anyone operating differently might disappear. As if we’re curating this world where only those who agree with us are allowed to exist and everything else is ignored, disengaged with, or converted to our way of thinking. (Notes Three)

Is that all other people and their perspectives are? Something that should conform to our ideas on life. As opposed to each person being their own, unique expression of humanity as it works its way between the various threads that make up our lives within society. This idea of “others” being but actors in another’s starring show; either agreeing to the part on offer or getting brushed off stage.

Sometimes it just seems modern ideas around communication suit some more than others. That the complexity of human life and community are being ushered in directions that leave some very little space to “be” and be recognised for who they actually are. As if there’s now strangely little opportunity for truly appreciating how we all are as human beings.

Notes and References:

Note 1: What does community mean?
Note 1: Joining the dots
Note 1: Pace of change & getting nowhere fast
Note 1: Can “how we relate” really change?
Note 1: All in such a rush
Note 2: Complication of being human
Note 2: Imperfection as perfection?
Note 2: Personal archaeology
Note 2: This thing called love
Note 2: Mutual awareness and accommodation?
Note 3: Making things up as we go along
Note 3: Absolute or relative value
Note 3: Social starting points for modern ways
Note 3: Places of belonging and acceptance
Note 3: Frameworks of how we relate

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