Even though an astronomical growth of mankind has reduced nature to an ever-shrinking corner*- we are a product of our environment and totally at its mercy – becomes very clear when some natural calamity happens.
We are becoming more and more insulated from the elements of nature because we have learnt to live in our own little safe “catacombs”. I am borrowing from the short story by EM Forster – “the machine stops “which was written almost one century ago -plot is set against uninhabitable earth- athleticism is scoffed upon and sedentary life is promoted. No one travels anymore because everything including medical care is provided to the subjects in their little cubicle by “the machine”. It eerily forebodes some such future for us all.
The reason I am bringing this up is to see if the definition of health and mental health is being redefined.
As a society we are less tolerant with any behavior which falls outside the narrowly defined normal behavior. Take for example- ADHD. Having worked with children over the years I have noticed that we dole out the diagnosis of ADHD much more than in the past. So, logically speaking either ADHD is becoming more prevalent, because of environmental, nutritional or some other influences OR maybe that, we are allowing “normal attention”, a very limited range. What I mean that their attention was good enough for working in their farms doing agriculture and all. There could be a psycho economic gain – there is more demand to stay focused in the binary world of computers than it was in the days when we counted with fingers.
Going back to the story “the machine stops” – the protagonist’s “athleticism” couldn’t be totally stomped out – and he started to explore the space outside his catacomb and at the surface of the earth and his dear mother warns him that “machine” would punish him harshly for these transgressions. He wants to meet his mother, who lives at the other end of the world. Mother is very astonished, saying “why do you have to come to see me, we can always talk and see each other on the screen”.!
Our mind, which is programmed to live in a tightly knit social rubric but instead must accept the make believe “social networks on the social media”. On this platform, the rules of communication are such, that we say something, which we would like to hear from others, and others say exactly something which we would like to hear. The personal opinions and the meaningful conversations are vanishing*.
Let me take the liberty of making a sweeping statement, by saying that biologically we have not evolved in terms of our body or mind, since we were hunter gatherers, but the demands are being made on us to do that. the burning questions is whether it is possible or not? Furthermore, is it redefining what is normal?
*The source is Umberto Galimberti’s philosophical assay, which I have made available in one of my previous blogs.
I learnt a lot from it.