Sunday, 16 March 2014

Generation 'Y' & Modern day illness - the innovation of loneliness???

Hi Everybody, 
Thanks for the very lovely comments regarding last week's post, and especially for the kind thoughts and offers of support that people have sent from all over the place. How amazing has technology become whereby friends (both actual people I have met and connected with, and virtual on-line friends), could offer support to me in the 'bottom corner of the world'. 

I'm sat here on a Sunday night at 21:08, alone in my lounge, after a weekend of football, a Botanical garden light and sound show, and a record (for me at least) 13k run around the bays of Wellington. A good friend just commented to me (via text) about their perception that I have 'busy weekends'. I don't think I have busy weekends, but on reflection, I realize I judge my weekends by what I do in terms of actions, and often by the amount of time I spend in the company of others - the direct company of others. 
Whilst growing up with a group of kids on a street, who always played outside, regardless of the weather , and being encouraged to try many 'doing' activities, (along with a fair few backpacking trips around different parts of the world), I have come to accept that I judge and value well spent time, as time with other people, and can feel comfortable being alone too.   

I accept that the same can't be said for everybody, and certainly generational differences are even harder to account for. As I sit thinking about the amount of time I have spent on electronic devices this weekend, and the amount of hours I have used up communicating with people who are not in the same room, building or local area, I do wonder about the changing way people are relating to each other 

I recently saw a brilliant video talking about this very issue, and it was derived from a TED talk by a woman called Sherry Turkle - 'Connected but alone?'
This video begins to touch on the issues described in recent presentations and research about the new ways we communicate and the issues faced by the new generation ' GENERATION 'Y'. 

I have debates about the issue of modern day depression, the ever-seemingly increasing number of people in life, and at work, that I come across that have a profound sense of ENTITLEMENT. People who are looking for reasons as to why life has not gone the way they feel it should have worked out for them, especially unable to understand why their specialness has not been recognized, or indeed why they feel 'lost' and 'helpless' and unable to find their place in the world. In has been suggested through anecdotal & some research that there is an ever increasing presence of REACTIVE Anxiety & Depression which has taken over as one of the leading illnesses in the developed world.

This is often referred to as an existential crisis. Defined by Wikipedia as a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose or value.[1] This issue of the meaning and purpose of existence is the topic of the philosophical school of existentialism.

If the issues raised in the video are more than anecdotal truths, and we are becoming afraid of intimacy of the human kind through ever decreasing exposure to real-time life, these 3 factors which help to maintain a sense of control through the use of social media:
1) That we can put our attention where ever we want it:
2)  That we will always be heard:
3) That we will never have to be alone
, these factors will change our psyches - and will will judge ourselves through what we 'share' how we present ourselves rather than what we can actually accomplish. Faking experiences, so we have something to share, is not an uncommon feature of on-line behavior.

Now those of you with burning questions and contradicting statements just hang on. The people that often challenge me the most about these issues are usually people from my own generation or older, that experienced their formative years in real-time life and then had exposure to the technological age. I'm just raising discussion and asking us to consider what are the possible influences in the changing presentations we see in health care issues today???? 
If reactive mood disorders are becoming more prevalent, people are scared to be alone and feel less skilled in real time communication, so substitute real life quality interactions for on-line connections, then the sense not achieving what success in life, (that everyone else seems to be achieving by 'sharing' and 'defining' themselves), will only get worse?

If we do indeed 'slip into thinking that always being connected' (through phones, iPad, computers, consoles) will make us feel less lonely, we could be in for some serious trouble - as some people would argue the opposite is true... 

GENERATION Y - if we believe the theory of how the current generation that are entering the 'productive and meaningful' life phase - (i.e. the working world), and how they are showing signs of entitled behavior, why might this be? The general theory is that whilst Grandparents generations mantra was 'work hard so their kids (Gen Y's parents) could have a better life', and then Gen Y's parents, grew up with a mantra ' work hard, and collect the rewards after hard work' - then it's been suggested that Gen Y's mantra is 'individuals are special, you'll be recognized for being special, and don't have to wait as long or work as hard for it' - you can understand why problems are occurring. Lets look at expectations vs disappointment.
1) Grand parents generation = Low expectations (after war / depressions) & low disappointment with the outcome.
2) Parent's generations = medium expectations (high after years of work / save to buy house, furniture, car) & low disappointment with outcome (economies were growing / jobs were easier / less over crowding).
3) Gen Y - High expectations (can do everything, travel, have family, own property, be successful, be what ever you want to be) & High disappointment - (mass competition for jobs, slowing economy, childhood message of 'be whatever you want to be' is not realistic in the modern world, without hard work). 
The questions raised are, with unrealistic messages in childhood leading to a more constant sense of disappointment with life, in this transitional phase in life, and with a potential lack of quality real time relations for support, is the defining characteristic from this upcoming generation going to be one of poor mental health? Is a repetitive sense of disappointment, with poor emotional coping strategies as a result increasing definitions of success driven by on-line life, leading to an generational existential crisis?

I accept that personal responsibility, individualism, culture, parenting, influences from social and physical environment all contribute to the overall development of an individual. Also as someone who has benefited greatly through the use of technology, (teaching 'on-line', publications, blogging, and forging an international reputation in my field), I am not saying technology is BAD & TERRIBLE. Far from it. I'm simply saying asking us to take a long hard look at how we communicate and consider the outcomes that are evident around us.
On a personal note, I will certainly be restricting the amount of 'on-line' time my (potential) kids have during the course of a day / week. I hope schools and educational facilities ask themselves these questions when they consider 'best practice'.

Regards from New Zealand.

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