When a society changes in any important respect, dislocation of character takes place, said psychologist Eric Fromm. For example, when the feudalist system was replaced with the capitalist system many people found themselves like fish out of water until they adapted themselves to the new system.
We live in a time of rapid changes. Each day comes with a new technology, a new software for the laptop, or a new app to be added to the smart phone. Our world is not what it was twenty years ago. Post offices have become redundant. The video player metamorphosed into CD player which soon became defunct. The CD/DVD drive replaced the floppy drive, only to be overtaken by the pen drive even before we could absorb all these changes. Door Darshan became a romantic nostalgia struggling to breathe amid a plethora of channels of all types. Banks went to ATMs before coming home on our laptop screens. Queues for paying all kinds of bills vanished when online payment gateways opened new avenues. Even the music player went individualistic with earphones attached to personal gadgets.
We live in a world of individuals cut off from one another. The community life became virtual with bloggers’ communities and social networks where we shared a lot of things like our views and photographs, without actually sharing anything.
Such radical changes don’t happen without affecting our character. Many of us have adapted ourselves to the new world. Many of us are trying to adapt. Quite many are not able to, may not know how to, may not have the accessories required.
There are many people who feel dislocated in the new world. The old character does not fit the new society, to use Fromm’s words. A sense of alienation and despair may be the result. Crimes increase as a result.
What is the remedy? We have to find new roots and relationships, suggested Fromm. In other words, adapt ourselves in a healthy way without losing our core values and personality.
Many people are unable to do that. Consequently we have a society of dislocated people. People who are mere shadows of themselves. The virtual life of shadows won’t give us any satisfaction. Loneliness, despair, frustrations… unhappiness is the result. And we search for happiness in all kinds of places. In the malls, in eateries, in acquisitions… But they fail to provide the real happiness which can only come from a well adjusted personality. Happiness does not lie outside there.
When things in the mall, food and drinks in the eateries or increasing number of apartments or villas or luxury cars fail to give us happiness, we start looking for the panacea. Gurus and Babas offer instant remedies. Cults mushroom. Fraudulent organisations and industries trap us. They may come even in the garb of beauty parlours or massage parlours.
Happy are those who can see the superficiality of all these and touch the real depths within. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven, if I may paraphrase Jesus. Without the waters of life that spring from the deepest cores of our very souls, our existence remains like the fountains that go on recycling the same putrid water.