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Why do modern relationships lack depth?

+7 votes
I suppose most of you will agree with me when i say modern relationships lack depth. Most friendships remain in a superficial level, and friends use each other only for enternainment. Sexuality without love is desired very much, some people defend this by saying that sex is a need - as if love is not. The reason why i say modern, i see this  condition in people who embraced the western lifestyle - at least one i see in movies and read in some critiques-. Traditional lifestyles however, have more serious bonds, trust and honesty (not that they don't have any downsides). Why do you think this is the case? I am reading Zerzan lately, he mostly claim all the isolation, alienation and superficiality, comes from symbolic culture and an increasing break with nature -hope i got it right- , but this sounds somewhat abstract to me. I have a few opinions on this matter, such as social media makes people ignore face to face relationships and prefer to write their inner thoughts to twitter etc. which in turn prevents creation of serious bonds with people and a technological society that worships quantity will necessarily decrease the quality of all aspects of life, but i still can't find an answer that satisfies me.

And a final point, sometimes i just can't find anything to share with people who i see in a daily basis, like in class. Not that one has to build relationships with everyone, but that awkward silence in table in cafeteria makes me wonder why this is the case. Have you got experiences like this? Is it because lack of experiences that can be shared, and a monotonous lifestyle?
asked Jan 25, 2016 by Metalist (780 points)
i like the question....and i think about this a lot. i have a few opinions about it too and hope to give an answer...but if i had to give a short answer, i'd say most people feel fearful - the reasons for that fear probably vary, and i hesitate to point to a particular moment or event as a cause of the fear. but i feel it when i talk with people, when i try to engage more deeply, when i attempt to cut through the superficial, when i even suggest doing things together without a cell phone or television or internet or some sort of "entertainment" present. perhaps more of us on this site who feel this way don't meet up because of fear as well.
yes, really good question with so many deep ramifications, perspectives, feelings possible. i may attempt an answer later, but i do feel it's increasingly more difficult for many to express, experience and live intimacy in a 'society' of strangers which is only becoming bigger and more invasive on so many fronts.
great question!

though clearly not a specifically anarchist question, hopefully discussion around it here will highlight @ perspectives in delving into it looking for answers.

i hope to return with some real thoughts...
the society we live in certainly puts on us an existential confusion, "what do we do now?" "What do I do with myself?", a lot of it stemming from the specialization and fragmentation of daily life, "work time", "entertainment time", ect., i find it particularly strange and annoying how spending time with other people often entails the thought "what should we do?"

2 Answers

+3 votes
ok, i'll take a shot at an answser. though i am hoping it is just a conversation starter.

first, i want to state the obvious:  not ALL modern relationships lack depth. it is possible, even in this modern world, to have deep, meaningful relationships. it just doesn't seem to be the norm, that's for sure. and it seems to get ever more difficult.

there are many factors that i can think of, which contribute to the sorry state of individual relationships that the question refers to.

- one way communication. in one-on-one conversations, i find that many, many people tend to talk much and listen little. they always bring the conversation back to focus on them; to who and what they know, what they have done, what they have seen, etc. there rarely seems to be much interest in what the other conversationalist(s) have to say. i think of this as the "me me me" syndrome. it is pretty fucking widespread. and i think it acts as a barrier to forming deeper relationships.

- pace of life, busyness and attention span. it seems fairly evident that in general, the pace of life has increased dramatically; everybody (even folks without "jobs") seems to be insanely busy. and i think the obvious shortening of attention spans in general is related. as a result, folks have less time (and often desire) to spend getting to know anyone new in their life, and they are too easily distracted to get very far with that.

- media and information overload. the barrage of news-edu-info-tainment that so many experience serves to separate people from real, live human interaction. not just in terms of actual mediation, but in terms of diluting the deeply human responses and feelings that come from interacting directly with the living world around you (including individuals that are a desired part of your life). maybe "dissociation" is a term that fits...?

- fear (as ba@ mentioned). it is pretty common, and all too easy, to be afraid of opening up to deeper relationships. it's scary shit, and requires a certain amount of trust, which so many of us have trouble with. most people do not choose to take on their fears, but rather bury or run away from them.

af: "i do feel it's increasingly more difficult for many to express, experience and live intimacy in a 'society' of strangers which is only becoming bigger and more invasive on so many fronts."

that is spot on, imo.

the modern world, driven as it is by technologies and ideologies that serve to de-individualize and de-contextualize, does not seem to value the kinds of deep, intimate relationships that the question refers to. therefore, it becomes much easier to engage in the shallow, 140-character, affinity-thru-product, digital relationships that have started to dominate "society".

i want deep, meaningful relationships in my life. fortunately i have a few. i'd love a few more.
answered Jan 26, 2016 by funkyanarchy (10,230 points)
Super answer

I have noticed when I talk to people, they always refer back to themselves constantly. Half of the time I don't know how to respond, so I go with a nod, an "okay," cut them off, or just walk away. To make it worse (as baa remarked), sometimes they talk about themselves or what not, while looking at their phone. I don't understand the need to look at a phone all the time.

I don't have a particular desire to socialize. Although, fear (as baa suggested) is one thing I do have troubles with, but mainly talking with people that share similar philosophical ideas. The fear is I can't be myself and speak to them. Other folk, I don't care (it is still off putting to me), but them I apparently have to heavily self-censor to not say something that's not "oppressive."

I rambled, but I like your answer F@. I'm a conflicted human being and I think your first point applies to my comment. :)

edit: i have poor grammar
thanks, human.

i don't mean to trivialize anything, but any human being that is not conflicted in this world is probably not anyone i would find very interesting.
I have come to doubt what I wrote above about myself in the past weeks. I'm still conflicted, but as of now, I'm even more conflicted due to recent events in my life.
+2 votes

I'd simply like to add a few things to funky@'s wonderfully concise, on point, answer. Like funky@ I do have a few deep intimate relationships, and, my heart being rather a rather greedy flame, desires more, while also perceiving some aspects where and when I live, which presents some rather subtle, and at times, insidious limits to stoking this fire anew and ever more.

There's another facet to the one way communication funky@ indicates and yet links to some of the others as well: Interiorization. What I mean by this is that when what we call 'issues,' or 'problems,' arise we are often quick to look for the 'cause.' Cause and effect. We've internalized this expectation to such an extent, via the churches, the schools, the nuclear family, work, and so on, that it has become normal. This normalcy itself nothing but expectation on a cosmic level, part of a totalizing cosmological model if you will.

When we seek a 'cause' for what we perceive as problematic within such a framework, we tend to treat others and ourselves like prime-movers, unrelated to the whole excepting that which each 'I' magically casts its effects, and somehow from 'within' each of us, capable of ruining what was once perceived as going along smoothly. It is never the totality of relationships within which we are embedded, taught, maintain, perpetuate and yet over which we each have no say or control. Instead we are expected to  ask: what is wrong with him/her, and perhaps more the socially approved point of view: what is wrong with me?

Insidious, and wholly acceptable, individualism: the cross-bearer, the diseased soul, the demented, the ill...the 'cause' of the dysfunctional whole, internalized into a soul-concept, a measureless, undimensional point labeled as 'you' or 'I'.

Is it any wonder that we fear, clam up, distance ourselves? Is it any wonder that media both reflects and perpetuates memes of chattering, shallow, smart-assed comebacks, as the way we relate as friends and family? To go deeper is to come face-to-face with the potential for problems and the consequential self- and mutual- blame of our causal model gone both internal and normalized. 'I' and 'you' become loci for the heft of alienation, violent behavior, fragmentation, i.e. the wake of dysfunction left behind the (anti-)social models and practices of state/capital. What was once the sinner now becomes the commodity of therapy and therapeutics, the prison industry, and so on.

If any anarchy is to be fought for in one's life with, alongside others, perhaps this may entail undermining and destroying this stupid model of the world as much as we're able within our relationships with one another. This means not allowing patterns of self-blame to arise as unquestionably they do so often. Anarchy, after all, is only as deep and broad as we allow for, create, expand and experience; each and together with others.

answered Jan 27, 2016 by AmorFati (7,780 points)

that's a great point af, re internalization. 

and it reminds me of an opposing (?) tendency as well: looking to place responsibility for "issues" in one's life anywhere except with oneself. unfortunately, too many folks i come across tend towards the latter, at least externally. i suspect some of them are (perhaps unconsciously) masking that self-blame you refer to.

thanks funky@, but damn. i was attempting to indicate by 'interiorization,' the notion of self-blame to be sure, but also the quest of pin-pointed fault finding via a totalizing causal model (cause/effect) of 'world.' perhaps in this case it is the attempted brevity of such a broad concern...?

i got you, af, i realize i focused on a particular aspect of the "blame" thing, mainly because i wanted to make a point about how so many folks seem incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions and behaviors.

but your larger point was not completely lost on me. and i find it an interesting point for discussion on its own. i think what you are saying is "cause and effect" is not the only way to look at how people act and react, but many folks tend to limit their analysis to that simplistic approach. always looking for the cause of the effect. am i on the right track there?

i have seen 2 definitions of "causality": the fact that shit happens for a reason; and the relationship between the reason and the shit that happens. like every other idea, as long as one doesn't create an ideology/dogma from it, it ain't nothing but a tool for examining and navigating ourselves and the world we live in.

are you saying there is no value in such an approach? or just that folks tend to be myopic and see that as the only approach? or something completely different?

i don't want to derail this topic/question, so maybe that is a separate question/discussion?
don't worry about the question, it's all my fault
You may dislike my answer... But I do not believe that sex has to be always about love... I mean, it's ok for me if two consenting people just want to have some fun together ;)
i have no problem with that sentiment whatsoever! of course sex doesn't have to be about love. earlier in human history, i suspect much sex was about procreation rather than love. come to think of it, it is like that for many modern humans as well - particularly religious folks.

it would be nice if sex was always about physical pleasure (as well as/instead of love and/or procreation), but unfortunately for many it becomes a power dynamic, a method of control, etc. extreme (but far from the only) such case: rape.

edit: while i mentioned rape in the context of sex as a power dynamic - and that does point largely towards men as the aggressors - i do not want to overlook the myriad of ways in which women use sex as a tool in power dynamics. one need look no further than the current "vote trump, get dumped" movement; but there are many examples throughout history (and literature).
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