Digitalized Disconnection: The Quest for Meaning in a Post-Enlightenment Era”

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Our Dystopian Inheritance:

A Courtesy of the Enlightenment (Opinion Piece)

Featured image: Photo by Mika on Unsplash

The Modern Malaise: Affluenza

The pervasive impersonality that characterizes life in the Western Hemisphere, is deeply rooted in the complex dynamics of modern society. The hyper-real dystopia that unfolds in this environment is a reflection of a world, where every aspect of human existence is meticulously managed and controlled. This hyper-capitalistic paradigm not only prioritizes profit and commodification, but also perpetuates a sense of atomisation, where individuals often feel like isolated units within a vast and unforgiving utilitarian system.

This profound depersonalisation has an intense impact on the mental well-being of the population. Anxiety, a persistent fear of the unknown, and depression, a crushing sense of hopelessness, are widespread, affecting individuals of all backgrounds. Delusions and paranoia, symptomatic of a society that often blurs the line between reality and illusion, further contribute to the collective psychological distress.

In response to this psychological turmoil, a concerning pattern of self-medication emerges. While morphine and other opiates offer temporary relief from the emotional turmoil, the search for solace often extends to a wide array of substances. Individuals, feeling detached from the immediate world around them, seek refuge in the inner recesses of their minds, effectively withdrawing from the complexities of societal interactions. This detachment from society is a coping mechanism, a retreat into one’s own thoughts to escape the overwhelming impersonality and detachment that permeates the modern world.

Ultimately, this state of dissociation is exacerbated by a profound loneliness that modern society often engenders. The hyper-capitalistic culture, with its emphasis on individualism and competition, can lead to a deep sense of isolation. In this context, the modern world becomes an inhospitable place for all those who feel estranged from society.

A Wake Up Call: The Face of Utilitarian Nihilism

The pervasive sense of detachment in the Western Hemisphere is intricately woven with the inauthentic nature of contemporary communication, evident in impersonal relationships, artificial social media interactions, and the manipulation exerted by predatory algorithms. This erosion of genuine human connection, is not only a contributory factor to the reported loneliness among 40% of young adults, but also correlates with a discernible rise in various mental health disorders over the past decade. This surge has been exacerbated by the all encompassing disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent government lockdowns.

Within this context, the phenomenon of “incels” (involuntary celibates) becomes a focal point for understanding the ramifications of societal detachment. The erosion of authentic human connection in the Western Hemisphere is further exemplified by the prevalence of superficial interactions in the realm of dating, notably encapsulated in the phenomenon of Tinder dating. The digitization of romance through apps like Tinder, has transformed the landscape of relationships into a transactional arena. Here individuals are often reduced to mere profiles, judged on superficial criteria. This shift from genuine connection to transactional evaluation, perpetuates the depersonalization and derealisation observed in broader societal interactions.

In this era of digital dating, individuals engage in a process that commodifies human connection, often prioritizing physical appearance and surface-level attributes over deeper compatibility and shared values. The result is a dating culture that mirrors the broader societal trend, contributing to the pervasive sense of emptiness and detachment. The transactional nature of these relationships, marked by a swift and often fleeting evaluation process, reinforces the perception that meaningful human connection is becoming increasingly elusive.

Transactional relationships extend beyond the realm of dating, permeating various aspects of modern life. From consumer transactions driven by the impersonal nature of online shopping to professional interactions tainted by a transactional mindset, the fabric of society seems woven with threads of detached, transactional engagements. Individuals navigate a landscape devoid of meaningful human connection, that defines the contemporary experience.

Enumerating the pervasive falsehoods ingrained in contemporary society, such as the façade of celebrity culture, the exploitation of children, the artificiality of conversational interactions, and the creation of deceptive social media personas, merely superficially accounts for the disillusionment that many harbor toward the prevailing societal norms. This discontent is not a consequence of rigged elections but rather a reflection of the allocation of resources, be it property or wealth. It’s an acknowledgment of a shared understanding that the pursuit of material possessions and alternative experiences does not inherently lead to happiness; rather, it serves as a form of sedation. Confronting this reality is a painful endeavor, one often avoided due to our collective cowardice.

Examining contemporary society, particularly from the perspective of someone situated at the bottom of the social hierarchy, such as in the bustling mega-cities like New York, London,or Tokyo reveals a pattern of individuals acquiring superfluous possessions in a quest for happiness. Yet, this accumulation of pointless materialism merely serves to sedate us, creating a cycle of addiction to technology and consumer products that not only stifle our future potential but also contribute to the apathy prevalent in addressing significant issues.

Moreover, this cycle of sedation is perpetuated by a unique form of voting — not at the ballot box, but through the act of purchasing pointless junk. In this modern consumerist paradigm, our choices in the marketplace become a silent ballot, reinforcing a system where the acquisition of more possessions is equated with personal well-being. This consumer-driven voting mechanism, though often subconscious, plays a significant role in perpetuating the cycle of sedation and contributes to the overarching societal indifference, even in the face of profound issues like one of the largest wealth transfers in history occurring unnoticed.

This modern paradigm, characterized by the perpetual discontentment it fosters, is not a mere coincidence, but rather a consequence of Enlightenment ideology and what politically would be described as progress. The ideals of reason, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness, when distorted, can lead to a society that paradoxically exposes individuals to conditions breeding perpetual dissatisfaction. The pursuit of knowledge, reason, and societal advancement has led us down a path where the consequences of an unchecked technological and societal evolution, are now starkly evident in the very fabric of our society.

The harsh reality unfolds within the intricate tapestry of our existence, a world constructed upon a fantasy that delivers synthetic emotions in a pill, executes psychological warfare through advertising, and introduces mind-altering substances camouflaged as prescription medications and food.

This relentless cycle intertwines with a concerted push by elites for the consumption of artificial and synthetic foods, with items like GMOs, and synthetic plant-based meats (forcibly integrated into our sustenance). This orchestrated effort blurs the lines between the natural and the engineered, prompting a fundamental reconsideration of humanities dietary choices.

Simultaneously, brainwashing tactics subtly permeate media-controlled filter bubbles within the social networks we frequent. These platforms are meticulously crafted and designed to captivate users into giving their undivided attention, leading them into an artificial reality that shapes and dictates the culture we inhabit. The insidious nature of these applications raises crucial questions about the authenticity of our experiences and the extent to which our collective reality is being manufactured.

Madness, disillusionment, and loneliness emerge as the inevitable by-products of the prevailing culture we inhabit, a landscape where pervasive indifference permeates the collective consciousness. This uncaring culture, an intrinsic component of modern existence, subjects us to an overwhelming influx of utterly meaningless and counterfeit societal norms. This pseudo-culture not only lacks authenticity but also harbours a hostile disposition towards anyone daring to express genuine individuality and authenticity. The disconcerting reality illustrated here serves as a poignant reflection of the current trajectory the West has embarked upon. It encapsulates a monopolistic, nihilistic, and materialistic cultural ethos that, in its relentless pursuit of progress, is unravelling the very fabric of Western Civilization.

In essence, the radical atomization and isolation inherent in modern life contribute to the erosion of foundational elements like friendship, love, and community. The relentless pursuit of individualism and the commodification of human connection leave an irreplaceable void, and attempting to substitute these vital components with alternatives proves dramatically insufficient. The harrowing reality unfolds as the consequences of this cultural shift become increasingly apparent—a society grappling with the repercussions of a collective detachment, steadily unravelling the intricate threads that once bound individuals together in a shared sense of purpose and community.

Sinister and Nefarious Actors on the Global Stage

Delving into the intricate realm of ideological subversion reveals the figure of Yuri Bezmenov, a notable former KGB agent who defected to Canada in 1970. Bezmenov’s insights shed light on a Soviet strategy distinct from conventional warfare, as it targeted the psyche of the Western public. In his revealing 1984 interview with G. Edward Griffin, Bezmenov exposed a plan orchestrated by the former Soviet Union: an extensive scheme aimed at triumphing over the West through psychological warfare and the insidious process of “demoralization.” Notably, Bezmenov emphasized that the KGB’s primary focus wasn’t espionage; instead, a staggering 85% of its activities were dedicated to gradual processes, namely, ideological subversion, active measures, or psychological warfare.

These meticulously crafted strategies lay bare the ambitious designs of the former Soviet Union for global conquest, constituting a pivotal component within a broader framework aimed at capitalizing on the foreseen isolation and detachment expected to permeate the cultural fabric of the West. This calculated exploitation was intended to harness the unique conditions inherent in Western society, strategically working to systematically dismantle its prevailing dominance. In the contemporary landscape, the waning vitality of the West, due to the progressive post-modern ideology it has adopted, coupled with the resentment it engenders, manifests a precarious scenario. This particular circumstance notably aligns with the historical ambitions of the former Soviet Union, inadvertently contributing to the strategic goals of present-day China in their overarching quest for global dominance. The convergence of these geopolitical dynamics underscores the intricate interplay between past aspirations, current ideologies, and emerging global powers.

The Modern Golden Calf: Nihilism, Secularization, and the Worship of Reason

The narrative of the golden calf in Exodus 32 serves as a profound symbol of supreme apostasy, reflecting the abandonment of a once-held faith. The secularization process, contributing to the erosion of the West’s Christian foundations, mirrors this biblical account as a contemporary rendition. As Ecclesiastes wisely states, “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9 NASB).

In the late 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche boldly declared the death of God, ushering in an era where the “prophetic mantle” was maligned and the “clinical mantle of rationality” took its place. As faith waned, Nietzsche ironically “prophesied” the rise of nihilism, the belief that life is inherently meaningless. Religion, traditionally a source of life’s purpose and a guiding force for societal values, was in decline. The ascendancy of atheism, coupled with the ascendancy of science and the state as new societal pillars, reshaped the cultural landscape, assuming the role of organizing principles in society.

Essentially, the modern worship of the new golden calf finds resonance in the modern philosophy’s adoration of reason and rationality, to which science “burns its incense”, having naively capitulated all knowledge, to the exclusive veneration of the “demiurge of episteme”. The malevolence of this worship, thrives on promoting the narrative that belief in God is merely a superstition akin to beliefs in fairies, witches, or pixies, and is fundamentally unreasonable.

Essentially, the modern adoration of the new golden calf reflects a misguided commitment to reason, endangering the profound aspects of human existence. It replaces this depth with the insatiable “demiurge of progress,” whose voracious appetite leaves victims plummeting into an endless abyss, while it takes on the self appointed responsibility, for filling in the voids created within our human existence, perpetuated through a denial of God.

Traversing Theological Terrain: Pauline Insight and ‘Stoicheia’ (Version 2.0)

In grappling with the oversight of Apostle Paul’s cautionary counsel within the Western context, particularly as outlined in Colossians 2:8 and the nuanced interpretation of the Greek term “stoicheia,” it becomes evident that a critical lacuna persists in updating theological discourse. The need for a theological “Version 2.0” that aligns with contemporary western societal environment, which Christians inhabit, becomes increasingly apparent.

The multifaceted nature of “stoicheia,” as delineated by L. J. Alderink in the Dictionary of Deities and Demons of the Bible, spans a spectrum encompassing basic religious principles, elemental substances of the physical world, celestial deities, and spiritual entities.

Colossians 2:8’s admonition to guard against captivity through “hollow philosophy and empty deception” serves as a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls associated with adherence to human traditions and elemental principles rather than embracing the teachings of Christ. This scriptural directive underscores the relevance of Paul’s warning in navigating the intricate interplay between societal philosophies and the foundational tenets of Christianity.

The Greek term “philosophia,” from which we derive the word philosophy, assumes significance in this discourse, representing human wisdom intertwined with the false teachings prevalent in Colossae. Paul’s concern about being deceived and swayed from the gospel’s hope, amplifies the risks posed by ideologies grounded in human reasoning rather than divine revelation. His warning takes on a profound dimension as it illuminates that activities in the heavens (pertaining to the natural world) were somehow connected to, empowered by, or under the supervision of the invisible world. (Heiser)

In essence, the dichotomy between philosophy and true religion becomes starkly apparent in Paul’s exhortation. While philosophy relies on human reasoning as its ultimate arbiter, authentic religion finds its foundation in God’s revelation. Christianity needs to acknowledged this fundamental distinction when navigating the intricate landscape of societal ideologies.

The Modern Dagon: Unraveling the Fragile “god” of Contemporary Ideologies

One can find particular symbolic symmetries within the story of Dagon (1 Samuel 5) and the maladies of our modern western “civilisation”. By defining the term “god”, a better elucidation of what is meant by this claim can be arrived at. The author defines this term as an “entity, concept or other, that regulates a believer’s life around it, this being the ultimate arbiter and authority for all matters”.

The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods beside me,” as articulated in Exodus 20:3, resounds in the narrative recounting the fate of Dagon, documented in 1 Samuel 5:2: “Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon, and placed it beside Dagon”. The dwellers of Ashdod, awoke to find Dagon prostrate on the ground the following day. This ancient narrative stands as a poignant symbol, illustrating the repercussions of diverting devotion from the true God, to a false deity. In a modern context, the “demiurge of episteme” in our discourse, similarly experiences a figurative collapse:

  • As a result of a rational mindset, the inclination to interpret social and political matters through a utilitarian perspective gives rise to the notion that the most commendable social policy is one that yields the maximum benefit for the greatest number of individuals. Far from Utopian, the utilitarian mindset perceives the individual not as inherently valuable but rather as a means to an end, a resource to be exploited or even sacrificed in the pursuit of their envisioned greater good. Consequently, utilitarianism is deemed a morally compromised framework, reflective of a disturbed moral outlook.
  • This proclivity for adopting a calculating and utilitarian stance in moral judgment is particularly pronounced in individuals with diminished aversion to causing harm, lower trait empathy, heightened psychoticism, and increased Machiavellianism. Such a mindset is also emblematic of the moral reasoning employed by psychopaths.
  • The ramifications of this utilitarian rationalism have been lethal, witnessing unparalleled human brutality, through industrialized methods of warfare and the industrialised elimination of unwanted pregnancies. These atrocities, committed under the banner of utilitarian reasoning, underscore the dark consequences of prioritizing calculated benefits over ethical considerations.
  • The modern paradigm has spawned influential complexes like the military, medical, media, banking and educational industrial complexes, each wielding significant influence over societal dynamics. This transformation underscores the pervasive impact of utilitarian ideologies, where the pursuit of utility often eclipses fundamental ethical considerations. This confluence, epitomizes the challenges posed by prioritizing utilitarian rationalism, in shaping contemporary societal structures.
  • The emergence of these influential complexes within the modern paradigm, poses a potential pathway to totalitarianism. The substantial influence wielded by these complexes over societal dynamics can lead to a concentration of power in the hands of a few, (even a corrupt few, if modern politics is human weakness manifested) diminishing the checks and balances necessary for a healthy democratic system, potentially paving the way for a form of governance that leans towards authoritarianism or even totalitarianism.

Returning to the Dagon narrative, the current Philistines, emblematic of those who shape and constrain ideologies in the prevailing times, attempt to resurrect it, this time iterated as a “demiurge of gnosis”, symbolic of the current prevailing post-modern philosophy. Yet, their endeavours prove fruitless, echoing the historical pattern. Like Dagon, this “god” crumbles, not only losing its hands but also its head. Beyond a physical demise, this symbolic downfall signifies a profound incapacitation—the “god” becomes bereft of agency and cognitive function. Herein lies the peril faced by Western civilization—a spiral into a state of impotence and lunacy:

Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”

(Isaiah 28:15 [NASB])
  • This post-modern paradigm is characterized by the pervasive promotion of hedonistic emotionalism, often facilitated through trivialised social media campaigns, that elevate superficial celebrities and their vacuous lifestyles, particularly on platforms like TikTok. These orchestrated presentations, deliberately cultivate aspirations among the general populace, to emulate this lifestyle as the ultimate life goal. The allure of instant gratification and the glorification of shallow pursuits, disseminated through these platforms, contribute to a cultural shift where the pursuit of substance and meaningful goals is marginalised by a superficial desire to mimic the perceived glamour of celebrity-driven hedonism.
  • Critical theory hucksters, engage in a deceptive narratives, aimed at persuading an unsuspecting populace, that the essence of life centres on power dynamics and struggles between the oppressed, and malevolent oppressors (understood either, as those who reject the latest iteration of Marxist ideology, or more likely, a group that has been targeted for destruction [such as white western males]).
  • This narrative sets the stage for the pernicious rise of cancel culture, a phenomenon wherein unquestioning automaton adherents, zealously chant a prescribed cultic mantra, orchestrated by nefarious con artists in academic “regalia” originating from university pseudo-science departments. These actors, driven by ulterior motives, intentionally deceive individuals into embracing beliefs that run counter to objective truths.
  • The insidious nature of this manipulation transcend mere ideological differences, infiltrating the very fabric of discourse and dissent, suppressing genuine understanding and fostering a climate where conformity to a distorted narrative takes precedence over critical thinking and authentic pursuit of justice. In essence, critical theory, when exploited in this manner, becomes a tool for coercion. In the words of Hanna Arendt “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” (The Origins of Totalitarianism)

Who cause a person to be indicted by a word, And ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate, And defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.

(Isaiah 29:21 [NASB])

The cyclical rhythm of this narrative serves as a cautionary tale, urging vigilance against the pitfalls of investing faith in transient gods, be they ancient or modern, and underscoring the inherent consequences of such misguided devotion.

Idols and Ideologies: From Utopian Visions to the Shadows of Human Frailty

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…….

(Exodus 20:4-5 [NASB])

A significant segment of contemporary society has redirected its reverence toward an array of idols, encompassing ideologies, nations, political figures, celebrities, athletes, sports teams, drugs and even the expression of sexuality. Additionally, there is a prevalent tendency to idolise technology and science, perceiving their combination as the contemporary equivalent of the “philosopher’s stone”. Some envision these entities as potential heralds of a Utopian age, potentially conferring upon humanity the elusive gift of immortality, by means of some technological “elixir of life”, as believe the trans-humanists.

A danger lies in the absolutist nature often inherent in ideological convictions, where the belief in an ideology’s power to reshape not just societal structures, but fundamental aspects of human nature, can lead to a disregard for diverse perspectives, and a willingness to enforce conformity. In pursuit of an envisioned utopia, history has shown, that the proponents of such ideologies, mostly: undermine individual freedoms, suppress dissent, and, in extreme cases, establish oppressive regimes reminiscent of dystopian nightmares.

Furthermore, the shadows cast by these ideologies are indicative of the inherent vulnerabilities within human nature itself. The very qualities that make us human; complex emotions, diverse perspectives, and inherent imperfections, can be overshadowed or even suppressed in the pursuit of a singular ideological vision, as certain testimonies from the ex Soviet Union describe.

Unchecked fanaticism or blind allegiance to an ideology usually heralds a distortion of its original intent, threatening self-inflicted calamity and destruction, derived from the inherent fallibility of human decision-making. The potential for individuals, societies, or entire nations to veer towards destructive paths, unintentionally creating a dystopian manifestation that starkly contrasts with the Utopian visions initially espoused, become possible realistic lots, cast by fervent ideological convictions.

Lastly, the inherent flaws ingrained in human nature, find reflection in the imperfections of all variations of man-made idols. Contrary to the notion of secularization as a sign of social progress, an uncontrolled addiction to drugs, sex, or consumerism, for instance, ensnares individuals in chains of servitude.

Sacred Synergy: Christ Can Enhance Meaningful Living and Well-Being

The profound religious experience, with its transformative potential, can significantly contribute to an individual’s overall well-being. As individuals grapple with life’s complexities, these transcendent encounters serve as a source of salvation by offering a unique perspective beyond the rational mind. This shift in consciousness can have profound implications for mental and emotional well-being.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:7 [NASB])

The sense of connection to something greater, beyond the mundane aspects of daily life, provides individuals with a deeper understanding of their existence. This enhanced perspective fosters a positive impact on mental health, offering solace, inspiration, and a renewed sense of purpose. Recognizing one’s place in a divine cosmic order can alleviate stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, contributing to emotional resilience.

Moreover, the interconnectedness experienced in these moments of transcendence can positively influence social and relational well-being. Individuals who feel connected to a broader narrative may develop a greater sense of empathy, compassion, and community, enhancing their relationships with others.

Regardless of the specific challenges individuals face, be it addiction, neurotic tendencies, depression, or heightened anxiety, religious practices have offered not only solace, but tangible coping mechanisms throughout the trials and tribulations of life.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,

Luke 4:18

Empirical evidence, amassed over numerous studies, consistently reveals a noteworthy correlation: individuals who exhibit a greater inclination towards religion or spirituality (R/S) often enjoy superior mental health and display a heightened capacity to adapt to health challenges when compared to those with less emphasis on R/S in their lives. Beyond the realm of mental well-being, these spiritual inclinations have cascading effects with physiological consequences, impacting overall physical health, susceptibility to diseases, and responses to medical treatments. (Koenig)

[28] ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

(Matthew 11:28-30 [KJV])

Bibliography

Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. United Kingdom: Penguin Books Limited, 2017.

Heiser, Micheal S. https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/NB-228-Transcript.pdf

Koenig, Harold G. “Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications.” ISRN Psychiatry, vol. 2012, no. 278730, 6 Dec. 2012, pp. 1–33, https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/278730. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671693/

Toorn, Karel van der, et al. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Germany, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999.

Until the next post:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

(II Corinthians 13:14 [ASV])

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