Monday, 19 May 2014

social contact, social-contract

Writing for BBC Future Magazine, Michael Bond presents an engrossing feature article exploring the human mind’s resiliency and fragility through the lens of deprivation and isolation.  From time to time, everyone craves peace and quiet and everyone has a different social threshold and defines interactions differently but no one wants or ought to feel secluded and lonesome.  Citing several extreme cases, experimentally self-imposed and on long, solitary adventures or with imprisonment and ransom, Bond examines the physical and especially the mental toll that lack of human contact causes.  The metrics have already been established when it comes to the inability to focus and concentrate properly as well as degraded immune and slower rates of healing when it comes to bodily health and performance, but the psychological yardstick is something that was only measured in feats too brave or too dangerous and cruel to be repeated—mostly.

Absent others as a projection or reflection of ones inner-thoughts, fears and expectations of what is normal go unchecked, and alone, one can quickly slide into madness with no way to measure or moderate ones monologue—though happily there are many stories of endurance and finding meaning and ways to cope with ones isolated state.  Of course, these mind-bending examples clearly demonstrate the effects that long-term loneliness can present—however, I wonder too, if researchers are inspecting those less intense periods when remoteness is refuted—by degrees at least, by outreach and being social at a distance.  I wonder if we don’t risk losing the ruler that society and culture imbues, as with extreme isolation.  It seems we might court more than bad manners if there’s no one else to mediate our demands—or cause us to step outside ourselves; we can too easily run away from the here and now and tune out challenges those physically present, like co-workers, present to our own virtual tribes of agreement, like turning in on ourselves—comfortably self-sufficient.  Those members are not the same as the imaginary friends that some have successful created to withstand the assault of separation, as there are bonds outside of the medium, and human contact via the æther is still rewarding and fulfilling, but I do think we ought to be careful not to confuse the familiar and amenable as a genuine means of de-authenticating the common struggle.