The Atrophy of Social Life by D. Stanley Eitzen
During my childhood, iPads or iPhones ever existed. The closest thing to technology that I have ever owned was a GameBoy that I was only allowed to play one hour per day. Even then, I have not been obsessed and solely waited for the next morning to come so I can play my GameBoy again. The reason for not such an obsessive behavior? I was forced to socially interact with people from school, and take religious reading classes, and much more. I spent more time with my family than I did to myself. And, for children now, that seems to be a ridiculous myth. Although I hated being forced to socially interact with my community, I have never understood the values my family was painting in my personality until recent years. The Atrophy of Social Life discusses the isolationistic society we live in today and the voluntary and involuntary aspects of it. Eitzen, the author, discussed different aspects of society that leads to isolationism, including the involuntary moving away because of jobs, discriminative society we are forced to live in because of our age, financial stability and ethnicity, and economic depression that forces us to work more than have the time to spend it with our families. On the other hand, we are naturally (in this case voluntarily) make choices to be isolated from our surroundings by falling in the illusion that the bigger the house the better (even if it means it’s in the middle of nowhere), and our culture learned from our families that lives in the suburban areas that thats where we belong when we grow up.
I have lived in isolated communities since I was a kid. It was a gated community with security guards and even though we felt safe being inside the community, how safe were we actually from ourselves that we learned isolation as the right thing to be? Moving from places to places, I found myself surrounded by different groups of people from different people, with different cultures, and distinctive features. This made me be social among then in order to learn about themselves so I can have more knowledge of people outside of my own kind and outside of my own circe. But, I, myself, am a victim of the technological and consumeristic dictatorship that took over my social life I could have had.
I want to discuss some of the solutions that Professor Eitzen gave us for fixing the social issues we have today. He divided solutions in to two aspects: First, he wrote about what we should do as a society in order to solve this issue. In the process of finding a solution we “must recognize the unintended consequences of societal trends that deprive is of our shared humanity. Once we have identified the downside of these trends and our complicity in them, what can we do to reverse their negative effects?” Some of the ways we could solve this included promoting people to live in urban areas more than in suburban because in that way jobs and school will be closer; more commitment for people to get involved in their community by funding schools, investing money for recreational sports and festivals; and, protest against businesses and other communities that discriminates the living conditions of people through segregating their ages, ethnicity, financial stand, and more. He claims that we allow this to happen at our “own peril.” Second, he wrote about what we should do as an individual in order to promote social interaction and community engagement. These are things we can do voluntarily, including: communicate with people in our neighborhoods, be involved in our community through volunteer work, become an activist or protest in order to help solve issues in our community, and share interest with people with common goals and plans.
It seems like Eitzen has a good idea of how we should fix these issues, but there are complications for such things to happen. Our economy being the first in the list, forces most people to work more hours than have time to actually engage social interaction in our community. We are paid less than what the minimum wage should be now, and we have to work longer hours and maybe even more than one job in order to provide for our family. I believe there cannot be a solution to this problem until economy, itself, fixes this solution. As a college student, we are to read about these issues and make sure when we are out in the real world and have a real job, we make the society better by interacting with one another and accepting different people from different backgrounds. How can we ever have the opportunity to do such thing on our spare time when we are not even allowed to have that spare time? Also, how can we neglect what the minorities and immigrants in this country has to say about these issues? Approximately 2.3 million Latinos and African Americans as stated, lives in areas with “apartheid,” schools and that also suggests the community they live by is not anything compared to the rich and luxurious communities some other places have. It is not that we are neglecting and not wanting intentionally for those children to go to school, it is the economy that we have that shapes the society in such a manner that we are involuntarily having to live in places with such conditions.
The author also discusses the implication for society and individuals because of this social isolation. He said that as a society, we are less interested in voting in elections that causes political problems and social conditions for ourselves in the future. However, what can the low-class minimum wage workers do about this? If there are actually 2.3 million Latinos and African Americas living in communities with inadequate conditions, then they are not being well educated in order to participate in political offices and elections. As for an individual’s implication in a society, the author stated that social isolation will cause “alcohol and drug abuse, depression, anxiety, and violence.” There will also be people that will feel like they need to engage in the society, but being misguided and misinterpreting what “social engagement” actually means, they will join cults and gangs. These are things that people, maybe not us as college students, but different communities actually go through on a daily basis. However, some things we actually have seen happening and some of us are victims of includes “shunning voluntary associations, by home-schooling our children, and voting against higher taxes for the public ignoring the needs of their neighbors and communities.”
It may seem difficult to find a solution for all the problems stated above. However, it is our duty, to make sure our future generation has a better life than what we have or going to have. We think of ourselves more than others because it is a nature of humankind. But, is it ever too late to change things? We know that technology plays a key role in social isolationism because the more advanced we are becoming, the more we are neglecting the negativity it’s having on us. Businesses and companies are making us delusional, arousing us with the good side of buying a big house, online shopping and texting/chatting rather than having a face to face conversation. But once you know the truth that lies behind all of this, how to solve it is in your hands. What are you going to do with the information you just learned is completely up to you.