Anomie

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Anomie-Maggie-Nichols.jpg

Definition

In everyday life, the modern vehicle and the daily commute is one of the most isolated moments an urban human can experience. The highway space is a modern anomie: nowhere is family, or connectedness established. Though individuals are connected in traffic, this connection is generally one of mutual frustration. The annoyance, while communal, pits each vehicle driver against one another’s irregularities and driving styles. Contact between drivers on the highway is generally one of misfortune or anger.

In his Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote that connectivity equals life, and isolation equals death.[1] Being connected is a luxury. Modern individuals can transcend non-places like highways or airport terminals by the use of mobile telephony. A cell phone provides a virtual ‘vacation’ from the isolation of modernity. An online social network helps relieve the feelings of Anomie caused by one's nearby geography.

Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger Actor Network. In this respect, mobile technology can help prevent feelings of isolation that suburbia and other technologies provide. NYTimes writer Christine Pearson writes that "through our devices, we find a way to disappear without leaving the room. By splitting ourselves off and reaching out electronically, we fill empty interpersonal space and ignite our senses".[2] An individual in the middle of a traffic jam or a lonely city can escape their geographical isolation while using a technosocial device. To escape from modernity for a little while gives the human a tiny bit of power over their incarcerated state.

In sociologist Emelie Durkheim’s perspective, a malnourished public sphere deprives individuals of real social connections. In the face of this Anomie, the cell phone allows an organic social network. Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger Actor Network. If the human spends time in a non-place, then the addition of a non-place accessed through the telephone tears through the solitary contractility characterized by the non-place. Both the place and the non-place can exist at once, because in the supermodern perspective all dichotomies blur into one another.

“What emerges from the fading social norms is naked, frightened, aggressive ego in search of love and help. The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot". In the search for itself and an affectionate sociality, it easily gets lost in the jungle of the self...Someone who is poking around in the fog of his of his or her own self is no longer capable of noticing that this isolation, this ‘solitary confinement of the ego’ is a mass sentence”.[3]

References

  1. de Chardin, Pierre Teilhard. The Phenomenon of Man. 1955.
  2. Pearson, Christine. Preoccupations: Sending a Message That You Don’t Care. The New York Times Online. Published 15 May 2010. Accessed Oct 10 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/jobs/16pre.html
  3. Beck, Ulrick. On the Mortality of Industrial Society, in Ecological enlightenment: essays on the politics of the risk society. Translated by Mark A. Ritter. Humanities Press, 1995. Pg. 40.