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Javier Gil Guerrero, PhD in History. researcher del Institute for Culture and Society (Universidad de Navarra)

Globalization and individualism

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:12:00 +0000 Posted in Philosophy Today (March 2015)

In the world we live in, we are getting used to detach ourselves from intimacy. Any option of escapism seems more and more remote. Nowadays it is impossible to escape from society. To imagine a Robinson Crusoe living on a desert island on the fringes of civilization is now impossible to imagine. Technology now covers the entire globe and no one escapes its domain. We are constantly leaving traces of our steps and actions. At the same time, different media, institutions, organizations and individuals are constantly bombarding us with messages, products and images. The possibility of withdrawing and leaving society no longer exists.

There is nothing new to discover on earth and there are hardly any places left where man and his technology have not established their presence. Following in Thoreau's footsteps or cultivating a hermit spirit are now impossible chimeras. There are no mountains so high and no islands so far away to flee to. Wherever we go, the state will have extended its networks with regulations and people will carry a mobile with an internet connection. There is no longer anything that escapes the Internet, and anything we do will almost certainly leave a digital footprint. More importantly, the man of our time does not know (and does not want) to live without these tools anymore. Electronic devices, the internet and social networks are already part of the life and worldview of today's man.

However, the paradox is that this existence statement, exposed and observed takes place in parallel to a growing individualism and sense of loneliness. We are connected and constantly tracked and yet more and more people feel more disconnected and lost than Crusoe or Thoreau. While we may not be able to flee to a desert island, much of society seems to live with one inside. Our connections and communications provide us with a simulacrum of relationship that in many cases fails to fully satisfy. In the end we find ourselves alone with our devices connecting through them with other people who also live isolated with their devices. It is us with our devices exposed to other tools and connecting with other instruments. We do not create society but a sea of individuals. We end up isolating ourselves in the midst of so much technological sociability. We no longer see people but what they express and show through their devices and communication platforms.

The challenge is to humanize technology and globalization. That the development does not consist of connecting systems but societies. To remember once again that tools are at the service of man and that he must flee from the creation of Structures which he will eventually find himself serving.