What is the root cause of stress in society today ?
My hypothesis is the disintegration of “family” as a social institution. In India, family was the foundation of the social structure in society. It was the strongest of social institutions and mostly extended beyond the nuclear family into a joint family. Apart from brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts staying together, the neighbourhood also provided a natural extension to the concept of family.
Modernism and technological evolution has provided more wealth and convenience to human kind. However, it has also led to large scale migration of families from villages to cities and towns in search of better career opportunities. This has led to disintegration of family as an institution. The breaking of the joint family means that the kids of today do not have a social cover of the family and the extended family any more.
This gets further complicated by dual income families. This means both the spouses work and the kids are brought up in crèches and with home nurses or maids. This is inevitable in a city landscape and this means that the growing child depends more on the social support of these individuals than family members. Both parents need to work to maintain a sustainable living in an ever increasing competitive environment around us.
This leads to parents ability to spend less time with their children and thereby provide the necessary social and psychological support. This is then substituted by mobile phones, tablets and the television for support. This in turn leads to avoidable and sometimes undesirable influences on the minds of the children. Children get addicted to watching movies and playing games as they are not used to dirtying their hands in sand in a park any more or playing with other kids.
Many children enter a pre-school even before they are three years old as parents want to shift the daily care to a pre school as they neither have the time nor the patience to invest in them any more. This could be genuinely due to lack of time or for convenience. Either way, the children grow up in pre-school much before they deserve to be there. This leads to peer learning and habits, which may not be desirable or ordained by their parents in the normal course.
These kids growing up as millennials join organisation as employees. They are more sensitive for their age and depend on social media for all their socio-psychological support as the family has disintegrated and friends are virtual and not real any more. This leads to anxiety and stress which in turn leads to smoking, drinking or drugs when they are not able to cope with the same.
Thus “Social Distress” is a phenomenon evolving in society today. It is a complex phenomenon emanating from breaking of family as an institution and then the disappearance of real friends in society. It is time to realise that mobile phone and social media cannot be a real substitute for social and psychological support in real life. It is time to realize that technology should lead to better quality of human life and not the other way around.
The bees always remain in a well knit family. If they are disturbed as in the photo above, they are in social distress.
It is time for us to strengthen relationships all around us. It is time to spend more time in the family with our children. It is time to socially engage with family and friends in the real world. Social stress can be tackled in the real world only by strengthening the quality of all our relationships.
Time to wake ups is today.
S Ramesh Shankar
6 thoughts on “Social distress”
In my younger days my two aunts -one a professor and the other an Engineer, who are much younger to my parents, were an amazing bridge between me and my parents. They were able to relate and feel for both. They held the mirror to both sides and played a great role in my early development. They are still my friends. We discuss anything under the sun – absolutely anything.
My uncle is one great person who taught me the difference between pure science and application. I vividly remember him teaching the spelling of the number 17 “SE VE NT EEN” on the day he came home on Vacation from Sindhri. Somehow I couldn’t conquer the challenge until then. I learned how a steam locomotive worked when I was pretty small. I have the vivid memory of the drawing he did on the floor to explain it. He taught me to see the gears in the cycle and see many a practical applications of the laws of Physics when I was not even in class 3! I learned the theory, formally, many years later.
My grandfather was a Physics teacher. He was a towering presence in my school and early college days. When he was fighting some health issues I was fighting an ideological battle. I feel I lost him a few years early. Probably with him around I would have pursued my dream to be a Physicist.
My grandmother was the go to person to discuss my “friends” problems :-). My constant companion for all the daily games, stories, pranks and many more; Each day she grew 65 years young to play with me. But she taught me many a life lessons.
My mom has been an amazing support and gave me some great perspectives at times. Some decisions, good or bad, she taught me in taking it and move on.
My Dad is my role model. I haven’t done any justice in being like him. He taught me to make friends. He taught me to be responsible, calm and gentle. He would have taught me more. I lost my dad when I was starting my career. I miss many a conversations that I could have only had with him. I have seen him having amazing camaraderie with my grandfather. While I couldn’t follow their conversations, I can recollect a certain warmth and comfort in their discussions.
Five younger cousins have been a great contributor. They taught me to have fun. Lighten up. Reminded me of what I can do. I still learn from them and enjoy a great company. Lesser interactions these days but an amazing bonding.
I was searching for a path not known to many in my family. Had my own battles not knowing for the sake of what. Finding meanings and trying to be the best.
This blog evokes a different feeling. Touches me very deeply. Finding happiness and feeling blessed for the contributions by all of them for where I am and what I am.
I saw my brother miss many of these. I can see my son missing a lot of it already.
I fully endorse your writing. Thanks for putting this together. I did a nostalgic journey down the memory lane. Thanks for making me think on an important dimension of life that I have ignored or forgotten.
Thank you Ramesh. You, like some of my other professional colleagues, too had a great influence in me. My sincere thanks to you too.
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Wonderful Pradeep. Thanks for sharing
Good one Ramesh. Your reflections are true. But many are not addicted as previous generation.
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Good thoughts. How do we integrate the families with out disintegration? Geographical dislocation and distance can be reduced with the virtual media will that avoid the disintegration?
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Nice, crisp and comprehensive! One aspect that occurs to me: our education system excludes any formal effort to build social skills, teamwork, collaboration and the like. Competition is encouraged, right from primary school level. This is quite in contrast to the approach adopted in advanced countries.
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I agree with you