17 July 2020

Alienation in everyday life

Alienation in everyday life


The concept of alienation involves the idea of isolation or exclusion. However, isolation implies being separated from a group or society. Exclusion is more personal because we are personally being rejected or left out of the group.


But there is another aspect to alienation. We might feel we are being excluded but it could also be that we are excluding ourselves. In other words, alienation could also be that we are excluding ourselves from the group or society for reason we might be unjustified to believe. Basically we feel we just don’t fit anymore in the paradigm we used to belong. Of course, if we don’t fit anymore maybe it’s because we have changed. It is not a reasonable assumption to believe that only others change.


The ambiguity of alienation is that we always assume that we are being excluded, others are excluding us, and hardly ever do we associate alienation with us not fitting anymore. This distinction is important because when we are alienated we might also be justified to believe we are being victimised.  By being excluded we are losing the privileges we enjoyed when belonging to the group and not to mention we lose the benefits of belonging to the group.


However, when we exclude ourselves we are basically failing to evolve with the group. But this is one interpretation, maybe the group is evolving in a direction we do not like and hence the feeling of alienation. In many cases we would even be justified to leave the group post haste.  The point is that just because we feel alienated it is not necessarily the end of our world as we know it.


How does alienation affect us in our daily life? For most of us our daily life is filled with the things we do every day. Mostly this means our work, the goods we buy, the programmes on television or cable TV, government, new technologies and so on. But all these activities have an element of making people feel annoyed, distressed, angry, and a few more emotional out bursts but is that enough to be alienated. Sometimes the TV programmes are really bad, but we still feel it is the best entertainment medium for day to day viewing. What would it take to move from not liking a programme on television to feeling alienated from television as a whole?


Surely alienation in our daily life must involve a sense of permanency, so it must be something beyond not liking it. Pandemic aside, for example, over the years we notice that restaurants are charging more for poor quality service. There comes as time when enough is enough, and maybe frequent restaurants less often or none at all. But surely the rational thing to do is to patronise restaurants who we know will give us value for money. But is it worth the chase for the value for money restaurant?


Against this situation, we might also feel alienated from society because the news services are changing, aesthetic values are changing and some might even argue that moral values are changing. Firstly, it is much easier to evaluate a lunch than it is to like a genre of art that we find meaningless. Secondly, whilst things might evolve for the better or the worst we still have to make value judgements. And this means that we have to inform ourselves about how things are evolving around us. If we are unable to keep up with this progressive change we won’t be able keep our life relevant.


Today ideology and dogma are no longer sufficient to understand the world around us. Unfortunately, we cannot judge the new world with the old tools. Sure we might have legitimate grounds for not liking the new normal, but unless or at least before we understand how this new normal functions and why, we are likely to make mistakes.


In conclusion, before we feel alienated we have to make sure that we are not really being alienated and that we are not being excluded because ‘they’ don’t want us anymore. Smart phones are not complex because telecoms want to exclude elderly people from the information age, but because the information age is a complex era in the 21st century. The alienation should be aimed towards those in charge but failing in their duty to make sure the elderly feel they are included.


The 2020 information age does mean that we need to manage information with constant information overload and more demanding skill sets. This means that today we have more opportunities to be included but many more to be excluded. Basically, today we have to be our own private investigator, our own investigative journalist and worst of all, we have to be our own judge and jury. Getting one of these wrong might mean needlessly feeling excluded or dangerously including ourselves in groups that do not wish us any good


Best Lawrence



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