Alienation: How Culture Makes Us Feel Lost

Alienation is a state by which an individual becomes isolated from the world around them. It is a process of transformation of consciousness that can occur both in a person and in modern culture. As a product of alienation, people behave contrary to what was expected of them because of their condition.

The feeling of alienation is spreading again – whether it is alienation at work, in love or in life itself. It has opened a discussion about the social framework for a successful life.


Being Alienated

The question then becomes whether we should think that in some households the iPad has replaced Tabby the house cat. This question is not easy to answer. Both are handy in the lap and can be caressed; the iPad has no hair, but the animal does not break if it falls to the ground.

In that sense, social theorists struggle to decide whether our society is in decline. This can be read – as we know since Adorno – also from the handling of things around us, be it the refrigerator or the smartphone.


At first glance, the revocation of the digital world is, of course, easy for the cultural critic. Even before exploring the last submenus of the new mobile phone, the next generation of products is on the shelves. What is the point of penetrating a device in all its functional diversity?

Many feel the same way as the sociologist Hartmut Rosa from the University of Jena. “The time I take to get acquainted with the things is getting shorter and shorter, and the feeling that I have with it, always stalely”, writes Rosa in The Diplomatic World. “They are so great, and I do not understand them at all, I do not bother with them, in fact, I can not wait until they have a little quirk so I can throw them away.”

Buying is seen as fun. But the fun does not stop. So it happened to him with many things, so that the scientist aptly described in a quote by Ödön von Horvath described: “Actually, I’m very different, except that I’m not to.” And as a good sociologist, Rosa develops a research proposal from her Life State Report “Perhaps we should think again about the meaning of the term ‘alienation’.”


A Life Involved

One of the greatest risks we can experience is living in a state of permanent passivity. Limiting ourselves only to exist, but not to feel. We dissolve in our bligations to such an extent that one’s life sooner or later becomes another obligation. This results in hope diluting from our horizon and giving way to an aseptic and purposeless existence.

We must be conscious and aware: to live means to be involved. It means taking risks, being brave even through fear and having not one, but dozens of purposes to get up every day. we, however, often take the path of conformism.

We have become satisfied with what we already have. Even if it is not to our complete approval or does not bring us happiness. Meaning, we prefer to have a bird in our hand than a hundred flying in the sky. Although, yes, when we open our hands, there is not even a bird, only feathers. Or only the sad glimpse of what seemed like a promise. In reality, it was nothing. Only a dream, false security.


Alienation From The World

Many late-modern people suffer from a sense of alienation from the world. It’s not just about our dependence on the digital world.

This is a discussion that would hardly have been conceivable ten years ago. The term was too discredited by the paternalism of both left and right cultural pessimism. For decades, the discussion about alienation was automatically linked to the question: Alienation of what?

This was followed by the speech of the false needs that people had been accused of. While he, the cultural critic, knew how to define the good life. Many rightfully resisted being told what was good for them. This essentialism is rightly dead.


The social philosopher, Rahel Jaeggi at the Humboldt University in Berlin, discussed this matter in her book Alienation. On the relevance of a social-philosophical problem pleaded again to ask the question of a fulfilling life. Without requiring people how they have to live. People who feel alienated in their social roles are dominated by unwanted wishes. Or suffer from their own indifference to their environment.


The Dark Side of Work Alienation

The cases of workers who are not enthusiastic about their work and who see it mainly as a way to survive even if precariously are relatively frequent. Despite the alienation imposed by the work, these types of cases are different. Workers do not have a special attachment to the work they perform. They carry it out because there is no other choice. This latent discontent, and that each worker copes the best way he can, establishes certain limits to the level of commitment to his own work.

Therefore, work is a source of sustenance, However, there is no unconditional surrender to work, nor a special identification with it. Because of this, the worker has certain limits concerning what he would be willing to do for his work. Unfortunately, it is, after all, the source of innumerable torments.


Meditation, Healthy Eating, Faith in A Higher Power

Above all, the fact that people independently pursue projects with which they can identify themselves. Is something somehow connectable, does it make experiences possible or does it hinder them? ”

In this respect, it would be nonsensical to praise each of the previous social states as less alienated. Rather, the academic social theory must once again dare to ask the systematic question of the good life. For example, does a visit the pedestrian precinct cause a cold horror or invites you to linger?

It is unlikely that this question can be solved by reading the Lucky Guidebooks that pile up in the bookstores. Meditation, healthy eating, exercising, socializing and having a deep connection to a higher power can contribute to your well-being. But beyond that, alienation has opened a discussion about the social framework conditions for a successful life.



The Higher Path Project

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