Society is losing the plot...

...according to the the UK and Commonwealth’s outgoing Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathon Sacks.

We are all too individualistic, people do not care for each other like they used to, and the fundamental building blocks of society — such as marriage and the family — are no longer sacrosanct.

Is Lord Sacks correct?

And if so, what should be done about it?

The curse of individualism

The award winning journalist and editor of the Guardian’s Datablog, Simon Rogers, cites in his new book Facts are Sacred (2013, Faber & Faber) an infographic describing the increasing numbers of people living alone: 

Does this data support or contradict Lord Sack’s argument? Is living alone a reflection of society’s disintegration? Or is it a choice that comes with increased affluence, more personal freedom and shifts in cultural norms? (image source: New York Times, 5th Feb 2012)

The importance of enduring relationships

Last week Lord Sacks also asked politicians and faith leaders: "...how can we educate people for a sense of the importance of enduring relationships…[?]". After all it is these relationships that contribute to the “glue” of society.

A presentation by myself and Toby Retalick (Youth Music) at the recent Charity Comms conference emphasised the importance of meaningful relationships.

We spoke about the ways engagement and interaction are shifting to digital means. Although still very much in their infancy, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, have already begun to set a standard for how we connect digitally. Or have they?

 

One thing is certain: that fleeting, transient digital relationships based on short termism and fickle, empty interactions will decrease in the years to come. Long lasting, meaningful engagement — shared within communities of similar, like-minded people — will become the norm.

Why? Because us humans have always interacted in this way. In niche groups. And we always will.

 

Technology will only serve to facilitate our ability and desire to engage with people who:

  • we genuinely like;
  • we share common interests with;
  • face similar problems as us.

This type of niche group interaction is what gives rise to enduring, meaningful relationships.