The fabric of our society has been unraveling for a while.
There was a phase in history when we lived in tribes, subsisting in more collective, sharing-based communities. Even in our industrial age, until recently it was not at all strange to live with multiple generations under the same roof.
Over the millennia, we have been sliced into more and more atomic units. These days, even the infamous nuclear family is often not intact, and many people live completely alone.
Even inside of ourselves, parts of our own personalities are split off and disconnected from each other. It is as though a fractal pattern of separation has gone viral in our collective self, creating more and more replications of the painful split from nature, from others, from our source, and from our own selves.
Societies in which people live less alone, due to a more collective social structure, often report less incidence of addiction, and many go-it-alone types of cultures report higher incidences of addiction and suicide.
If addiction and suicide don’t get us, consider that loneliness has been linked with multiple life-threatening health problems, and might be more likely to kill us than most other factors influencing the contemporary mode of life. We can literally die of a broken heart.
Through social media we are paradoxically more disconnected than ever – from those sitting right next to us – while we pursue and consume inorganic experiences of connection mediated by technological platforms. It is no surprise that social media and internet are addictive, as they provide us with inauthentic, cheap and easily-consumed experiences of what we’re really seeking in our souls, without asking us to change our lives by relinquishing our ego.
Like all addictive substances, social media takes advantage of a genuine spiritual need, seems to answer it, and lets us get away with “not doing the work” of going through the transformation that would cause us to develop the ability to feel deeply connected in the way we truly thirst for.
The rise in need for digital detoxes makes perfect sense – just as with addictive substances, the fake solution needs to be removed out of our system for us to feel our genuine disconnection, the devastating pain of which is the causation point of us finding our way to true connection through some kind of spiritual regeneration.
In fact, separatiois a part of the alchemical process of spiritual transformation. For many of us it is only when we withdraw from our families and friends and experience genuine, deep aloneness that we are able to go through the fiery, restorative transformations that are necessary to uncover, and finally live true to, that within us which is authentic.
For those of us going through a dark night of the soul process, we may find that whether we want it or not, something within us ensures that we get time in psychological, if not literal, isolation. Joseph Campbell writes about the necessity of hermitage, a period of solitude and sequestering during which we are at last alone enough to discover the voice of our true Higher Power. This stage ends at some point, and we return from the wilderness of our isolation with a gift for the community, which we could only have received in the purity of aloneness.
For a lot of us in recovery, the intense social isolation induced by addiction provides us with the necessary darkness and erosion of our identification with ego to sufficiently prepare us for spiritual awakening. That’s why no matter how much of a burden addiction is, it is a boon once it is converted into recovery.
When spiritual solitude is seen for the value that it provides, we might consider that our society’s increasing tendency towards disconnection may be part of that drive. Collectively, a dark night of the soul is clearly upon us, as the world around us reflects. Perhaps the division into more and more isolated fragments is part of a larger process that precedes an awakening to reunification. Certainly the pain of it is extreme, and pain can be a great awakener.
Be that as it may, as more and more of us – whether due to being in recovery or on another type of awakening path – go through genuine solitude and get to its solution, genuine connection, we will be able to come together and build communities that express and hold a spirit of wholeness in them. In that way, just as the mainstream culture erodes, so the subculture of recovering ones expands and thrives more and more, weaving us into a connected fabric.
As painful as the destruction of our old world social fabric is, this weaving of our new social fabric is something to celebrate with all of our hearts. Thanks for reading!