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