We are born in a bundle. Tied to piles of ideas the moment we understand what is self. That is, we do not even know if beyond the parent’s parenting or friend’s influences, an original self without a taint of influence, exist or not.
Of course, the name of Dorian Grey would pop into certain heads. For me it is the dilemma of the very existence that has become a phenomenon in the times and in the literature of Modernism. The lone self is a very deranged concept to study, whether it is the divided streams of consciousness or The Scream of Edvard Munch. For poetically and yet in philosophical ideologies that ring true–the self is not what it was yesterday. Holding onto it alone is like trying to catch hold of water. In isolation, the self realizes this and yearns for the society from where its history begun. Now, what are the common advises for the patients of depression as recommended by psychologists?
Go back to your friends and family. Reach out to them.
A very sound advice, I must say. But why does the self cannot survive alone? Now, because of the so many existing cases of exceptions where people do in fact live alone–let me rephrase my question–Why is it harder to live alone than with the society?
Let me present you with an example.
As a part of a psychology experiment conducted on a scientific level by an educational channel, the individuals were locked inside an empty room with a simple clock. They had no smartphones, people or any other source of instrument.The experiment worked on a reward based system. That means, the amount of money which the volunteer was going to receive was equivalent to the number of hours they were ready to spend (without sleeping). All the volunteers were invited to stay for the whole day. But the best a volunteer could do was 5 hours.
I saw this experiment on my cable and for the rest of my life, I became intrigued with it. Alan Watts, addresses the same problem. Why are we not able to stay alone with ourselves?
The answer might be related to the tendency of self reflection. When a child is born and is in his toddler years, he is unaware of this torturing phenomenon of self reflection. Speaking in Freudian examples, he may snatch away the ice cream if he wants to and would not think twice about what it had led to. In other words, his parents are in charge of his superego while he gets time to utilize his Id. However, a mature adult do not have parents to look after their superegos, ironically born in a psychological system, where Id was in charge first. By this hypothesis, we all indeed are the horrible animals which Joseph Conrad imagines us to be in The Heart of Darkness. I like to put forward then, we are hardwired to rely upon society no matter how corrupt and hypocritical it can be in imparting its fundamental ideologies.
The society is everything which the individual self is not. While the self is impermanent and always changeable, a society is formed with a constitution whose core values are not amendable in nature, not because ‘that’s how it is supposed to be-good for all’ but for the sake of human sanity which must hold onto fundamentals for the sake of existence. For example, if you refuse to believe that murder is wrong (anarchically speaking), your immediate relationship with other human beings will also change. But let us also suppose that it is not one but all the human beings who start to believe that murder is no crime, what would happen is, the Id will be activated and superego will fade away. Such a society cannot exist. Because such a society (to use the word, in absence of a better term) is like an individual in isolation, whose morals change by the date. It also helps us conclude that each society (cannibal or savage) must live with its principles for its existence, as discussed in several ethics lessons.
Now the question remains, we are more isolated than we were in past decades? How are we still surviving?
The definition of society is equivalent to a database, now. In an evolution of lifestyles, with the era of virtual medias, we have maintained a safe distance with the society whose judgement is hardly dictatorial. (I am not talking about the majority of population of the world. For many still don’t have internet or phones). This society is not a very congregated society as much as the non-social media users would like to think. In turn, it has in itself, a vast network of small societies divided through the choice and preferable genres of multiple individuals across the world. Not only does it expand the diversity of society but is also invested in granting participation to those who were traditionally marginalized and taboos.
This is revolutionary in a sense that it generates an immense scope in human discourse. The language is played with and weird art is produced. The society whose center is the platform itself provides utmost care to the individuals and naturally rebels against real time unjust authority whose ‘genre’ is perhaps shared by multiple societies of the platform.
However, this does not mean that real life is evaporating. We still have important decisions to make in our lives without the childhood shelters of parents. The individual who is hardwired for self-reflections through the superego, targets society instead of himself. He recognizes the patterns obstructing him to do a certain thing, not realizing that emancipation is never 50%. In independence, it is like learning to walk again. This is when virtual media comes in. It is an easy medium to generate society on a small scale without having to do a French Revolution of your own.
We always find a way to survive. Though the imprints of fight for survival, the fear, remains.