Alienation in the 21st Century


Feel like a king with your new radio.
Feel like a king with your new radio. | Source
Feel like a king with your new television set.
Feel like a king with your new television set. | Source
Magic! At the cinema, on television and on computer.
Magic! At the cinema, on television and on computer. | Source
Fall from the natural world.
Fall from the natural world. | Source
Do we ever just talk anymore? Maybe. Maybe not.
Do we ever just talk anymore? Maybe. Maybe not. | Source

Alienation in the 21st Century

Unreal Women and Unreal Men

It has been pointed out in a recent hub ( myownworld's excellent Men and Pornography as An Online Addiction) that pornography on the internet is on the increase or, at any rate, there are people addicted to it. This I believe is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to alienation in the 21st Century.

There are men who feel closer and more passionate with images on a screen than with real women in real life. The women images on screen, of course, can be doctored and often are to come closer to the male and, in some instances, the female ideal. If the eyes of the original model are not the recommended color (whatever that might be) they can be changed. If the model has not quite the right shaped face that too can be altered. And so it goes until you have something on screen that is as real as a three dollar note. Beautiful? Well, for a teenager yes. For someone who has been out in the real world and likes it there they can read it as false and not pleasing but the viewer in this instance may not understand why. It may be a case of: Technically she is perfect so why am I not interested in her? For someone who has taken to the false or semi-false images, however, they are not very likely to find someone in the real world that will match their vision in the not-so-real world.

Are women affected by false or doctored female images? Yes. These false images may be one of the reasons why disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have taken off in the late 20th Century and are doing well in the early 21st Century. Women cannot compete with unreal women and they shouldn't have to. Men also find themselves competing with unreal men and this can lead to depression. Do women also suffer from depression when they try to become 'unreal' beautiful? The answer of course is yes.

Are images of unreal women found elsewhere besides the computer screen? The answer is yes. Many magazine covers have doctored photos of women from health magazines, to magazines for men to magazines specifically targeted for women. There was a popular Australian model famous for her freckles who appeared on one magazine cover without her freckles probably because some editor didn't like women to have freckles. The magazine where this occurred was not a men's magazine but a magazine specifically put together for women. Are freckles a crime? No. Can a woman look beautiful with freckles? Yes. Can men and women be tricked into thinking there is something not quite right with freckles? You bet!

What is the answer? The best thing anyone can do is take a walk in the real world. Talk to people, all kinds of people. Maybe take up a sport. Pining away for the impossible or to become the impossible image doesn't do anyone any good.

In the real world women can be harsh with men but at least they are real women. In the real world men can be harsh with women but at least they are real men. In the real world it is also possible to find someone you click with and that can lead to a life less lonely. This is a good thing. It is of course possible to meet someone online, form a relationship and then meet in real life. This can work. It can also be dangerous as not everyone tells the truth online.

How alienation took off in the 20th Century


There were kids in the beginning of the era of radio who became addicted. They came to prefer listening to the music and then the stories on offer. They would stop whatever they were doing of an afternoon to tune into their favorite radio show. They world sit and listen as Superman saved Lois Lane yet again or stopped a meteor from smacking into the earth. They would sit and listen as the Lone Ranger did his thing in the wild west and the Green Hornet rounded up the bad guys in some inner city locale. There were also game shows such as pick-a-box and the news and fashion tips for the ladies and sports reviews for the men though a lot of women also listened in. This was all a pretty good escape from reality but it wasn't perfect. It was, after all, just sound, no images. You had to go out into the real world for images or pick up the Radio Times. There were also good things about radio that should not be forgotten. With the advent of radio it was possible to be sitting in a lounge room in Sydney, Australia and listen to a compare in England review an Ashes cricket match between England and Australia live as the cricket match is actually happening in England.Comedy was king on radio.


With television you have not only sound but also picture. You can see Superman fly. You can see the Lone Ranger shoot up the bad guys. Of course you could at first only see all this in black and white. If you wanted color you would have to go out into the real world or get a copy of TV Week.

Then color television came in. Now you could see the newer programs in color. You no longer had to go out to see people moving in color. What's more, there were television families that just about always solved their problems by the end of the episode. Unlike many real families they did not have continuing problems. They were as close to perfect as you could get. It is no wonder people were drawn to them.

In the cartoons and the live action adventure stories the heroes always or almost always triumph at the end of the episode. The bad guys including the bullies always lose. In real life of course this doesn't always happen and there is often a gray area as to who is the good guy or gal and who is the bad guy or gal. Pretty gals may fall for the villain or bully at the beginning of a episode but they are NEVER with the bad guy or bully at the end of the episode finding they have a preference for the honest and true blue hero. In real life this does not always happen. Then there is comedy to make you laugh after a hard day at school or work. Unlike radio you can actually see the comedians take falls or custard pies in the face, etc.

Do we really need the outside world when television gives us so much? In truth we do in order to grow up and also find a place in the outside world that goes beyond schooling and work. Are there still people addicted to television? You bet. What's more, with videos and DVDs you can remain addicted even when the programs being shown are lousy and unwatchable.

Is so called 'Reality' television creating a new type of television addict? Probably but it is also probably too early to comment. 'Reality' television may also be driving people away from television altogether and either into other addictions or even into the real world.

The computer

Images of whatever you want are easy to come by. Making friends on line is easy and often easier than face to face. Hurting people on line is also, unfortunately, easy but so is helping them and also making them feel appreciated. There are also computer games that can be played on line with more than one person. You can create a new personality for yourself and give yourself the body type you have always wanted. You can do all this and more. Is this sort of thing addictive? You bet. It can take you away from reality to the point where a walk down the street to buy milk and bread feels like you are in a strange non-technological territory.

Cell Phones or Mobile Phones

Call them cell or call them mobile they do more nowadays than just provide you with an instant phone when you are not at home. They have become essential for business people. Parents want their offspring to have them in case of emergencies which is only sensible. They have however become a problem in some schools where students prefer to text each other or play games on their mobiles rather than listen to the teacher. It is also possible to have pornographic images come up on the tiny screen or to access the internet. Mobiles seem to be able to do everything short of brushing your teeth for you at night and tucking you into bed. I have seen teenage girls texting each other or verbally talking to each other via phone when both girls were no more than twenty feet from each other. Why didn't they just walk over and talk to one another in the real world? Maybe the answer is that the world of the mobile is far more fun and far more addictive.

Are There Other Forms of Technological Addiction Not Mentioned?

I am sure some of my readers will be able to add to this list. I have been concentrating on addictions involving sound and/or picture but I know I haven't touched upon everything in this category. I think this lot is enough to go on for now. I look forward to your comments. I hope this has been informative to some of you. I'm off fishing soon. Back to the real world you might say.

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Comments 12 comments

myownworld profile image

myownworld 6 years ago from uk

I love your straight forward, matter of fact writing style. Great hub there and further explores the different sides to this one endless story. Two very important points you've stressed here: the 'false' images that can be doctored any way you like and can make it so hard for real women to keep up to; Plus, how other multimedia/technology can be equally additive. Anyway, have linked your hub to mine...thank you for taking up the idea! :)

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thank you for offering up the idea myownworld. Thank you also for the link.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Hi Rod,

This is such an interesting hub. I've been thinking about these things myself recently. Much of it comes down to escapism..whether from the world, r/life people, problems, issues...ourselves. I wonder about the future...with technology becoming ever more sophisticated and intrusive, will we ultimately end up with a technological wonderland and a greatly diminished natural world? I hope not.

The internet can be particularly seductive because it enables us to interact with the illusionary world; unlike radio or television, we can be participants in the drama. It's also full of deadly fantasies and floating entities, a place where we can mold our own ideals and transfer them on to anonymous others. For for those who get caught up in the fantasies it can have serious r/life consequences.

Of course, the internet can be a great place and a fantastic long as we don't get swallowed up in it. Since I joined this place a few weeks ago I'm amazed at the amount of time I've been spending online...and I'm aware it's letting me practice my avoidance techniques. Whenever I'm faced with extra stress it's easier to let chaos descend around me while I log on to the web...thus avoiding dealing with the things I need to deal with.

What you wrote about walking down the street to buy milk is scarily true. After being on the computer for hours I can have the strangest feeling walking through the supermarket, like I'm on another planet, in a dream-like state..passers-by seem remote..detached. Is this reality...or is it the other place?

Ultimately, and probably fortunately, I never find this realm as satisfying as the real world. How can it be..? There's nothing tangible here. I'm always healthier and happier when I'm off the computer and interacting in the real world.

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Jane it sounds like you have plenty of friends and contacts out there in the real world or you couldn't say you are always healthier and happier when you are interacting in the real world. This is a very good thing.

Technology as you have pointed out can be a marvelous resource so long as we control it. When it begins to control us or people more technology minded begin to control us through it then you have trouble. I guess alternatives, responsibility for your own thoughts and actions and keeping your options open are the keys to all of this.

The internet can be more seductive than television but producers of some television shows have worked at making television going into the 21st Century more so than it has been in the past. Some reality shows, for example, run commercials enticing people to phone in to keep contestants on shows or to get rid of them. Voting privileges or so-called privileges just because you are a viewer can be enticing. People forget sometimes that they are paying for the privilege. Teens do get sucked in with the illusion that they are participating in something democratic and bigger than themselves. Television cannot really be as personal an experience as the internet but this does not mean that producers won't try to close the gap if they can see a profit in it.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and your interest.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

That's true Rod, I'd forgotten about reality TV...and you're right, they do offer a small illusion of power. Still, you can't weave quite the same intricate fantasies around phone-ins as you can with internet possibilities. You can't really communicate and interact with any depth.

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

You are Correct Jane. Television as you say does have its limitations. Yes you can't really communicate and interact with any depth. Even so the fact that you can create a two way communication and make people pay for it (to phone in and vote is not as cheap as a regular phone conversation)says something about the lengths producers and television studios will go to in order to make money. Teenagers can feel powerless and some will jump at even a small illusion of power.

lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Brought back some old memories. I grew up with Lone Ranger, Wild Bill Hickock and Rocky Jones Space Ranger in 1950's television.

Addictions are hard to let go of, and I've let go of a few. I left a lot behind in the USA when I moved to the Philippines (on your side of the planet).

I've published one science fiction novel, co-authored with John Dalmas, under the pen name, Carl Martin.

My non-fiction, though will be under the pen name, Rod Martin. And, from one Rod to another, I want to say, I like your writing and your style. Keep up the good writing. I expect I'm not the only one who wants more, more, more!

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks lone77star.

I picked up a couple of episodes of Rocky Jones Space Ranger on DVD. It was pretty good for its day. A lot of people grew up on the Lone Ranger.

Baileybear 5 years ago

Yeah, my 'social' connections are talking to strangers like you on the internet ;) I'm not a particularly 'social' person anyway. I'm happy with the company of my family and pets

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks for stopping by Baileybear.

I am glad you have found a way to be happy.

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

A brilliant take on "alienation" in the 21st Century. It goes very deep. I wrote about a friend of mine, a musician, who tells of being at an ope-air jazz festival where the great Hugh Masekela was playing. While Masekela was blowing up a storm on the stage a group of people in the venue were gathered around a ghetto-blaster and bopping crazily to a CD of Masekela! The actually preferred the CD to the live performance.

So sad the we have beome so addicted to artificial things - artificial music, artificial relationships, artificial food, even artificial work - that we prefer them to the real thing.

Thanks for this reminded of what is real - and certianly "Reality TV" isn't!

Love and peace


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks for stopping and taking a look, Tony.

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