Do we have limitless borders in today’s world?

Last week was particularly interesting and one could even go as far as to say disturbing, so much so I decided to write about these observations, which can only be described as ‘no limits’ and ‘no boundaries’ for others.

It is amazing what an influence we have on others, especially children. Yet, I sometimes ponder on the fact that we are reluctant today to say anything is ‘wrong’; that even using the word ‘wrong’ can be branded as being ‘negative’ or too aggressive.

We hear the expressions “no limits” and “no boundaries” presented as a philosophy of life that is positive.

Interesting research showed that nearly a third of people questioned for a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said they had personally been a victim of yobbish behaviour, illicit behaviour or had witnessed an incident in the 12 months.

More than eight out of 10 people say anti-social behaviour has risen in England and Wales over the past 12 months, the Government’s main crime survey has revealed.

It is not uncommon to hear people experience these behaviours – what 20th Century psychiatrist Erik H. Erikson called “the problem of identity”.

Why are so many today troubled with “the problem of identity”?

There may be many reasons, but one is clearly the philosophy of ‘no limits, no boundaries’.

Could you imagine a game of football with no boundaries, no rules, no posts, no clock or no scoreboard?

How do we know ourselves? By our boundaries, our limits, by having some sort of order in our life. There are those who live by no boundaries, but this way of life often ends with a jail sentence.

It is a very good thing to stretch our limits, to raise the bar, but even those dudes on You Tube doing “parkour” don’t jump off cliffs! Well, not many of them. They realise that even parkour has its limits.

Boundaries become most significant when considering children. In a world where children can and are caught up in an emotional, physical and spiritual shipwreck if their boundaries are crumbling, it is important that firm boundaries are set to ensure that the child grows with confidence and knowledge to tackle life’s challenges.

If you’ve ever had a written contract or tenure dishonoured on you, you become a devoted fan of boundaries very quickly. Liars, despots, dictators, cult-leaders, and corruption all show that a world with uncertain boundaries and laws is anything but beautiful.
By contrast, in daily life we hope that people are reasonably faithful to who they really are. With the rapid expansion of social life in cyberspace, judging the authenticity of identity has become complicated.

In 1969, before cell phones, laptops, and smart watches, Americans were willing to believe that men walked on the moon. Now, progress toward eradicating deadly infectious diseases is threatened by a growing number of parents who have misgivings about childhood vaccines and delay or refuse vaccinations for their children (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2014). In a time of sophisticated video editing, anonymous posting, and computer-generated imagery, we can’t be certain if an online video is a hoax, a secure website is safe, or an email is from whom it purports to be.

We understand who we are partly in terms of our role in relationships and in terms of social comparison. As we spend more and more time in cyber-society, we should be wary of becoming dependent upon it for our sense of identity. For some people, engagement in social media has extended their sense of self to the identity they have in cyberspace. Their smart device can become an extension of their self. If a person has become so attached to their smart device that they are stressed when separated even briefly, he or she might need to re-evaluate the social priorities in their life. We are so much more than the number of likes we score on social media. Being with the ones we love brings satisfaction and fulfilment to our lives. Virtual reality should enrich and extend our relationships, not replace them.

Relationships that evolve around more eclectic interests are more complex. Socially richer, they can meet emotional needs and foster a sense of bonding and belonging. However, the same warp speed that facilitates the birth and growth of these friendships can also torpedo them when online communication reveals an unexpected negative trait, belief, or opinion. Virtual is not identical to face-to-face communication. Unlike face-to-face, online conversation lacks the contextual cues and body language, intonation, and personal feedback that can correct misunderstandings or modulate the severity of reactions or expressions. Online rants can be or appear to be less tolerant, unforgiving personal attacks or hypercritical judgment. The virtual essence of the online world creates psychological distance that diminishes the regular limits on extreme behaviour, such as public accountability, consequences, or even social-emotional feedback of facial expression and body language cues. Such distancing can result in more extreme offensive language, behaviour’s, or threats.

Unlike real life, online relationships can vaporize suddenly with an unfriending or simply an end to responding. In daily life, we can use our next encounter to apologize, explain or correct. The online world might offer no such opportunity. Moving from one such experience to another can ultimately invalidate them all, as they become devoid of substance or meaning. This might explain in part why people feel worse after spending time on social media. Research suggests that some people feel social media time was wasted or meaningless.

If an online experience has become hostile, it isn’t always easy to disconnect. Research has shown that many people become anxious or stressed when not in constant contact with their online social life. hey worry that they might be missing something important or will be left out as the online culture goes on without them. Even terminating a particular relationship online can produce anxiety, as a user cannot know what communications are taking place that they are now blind to. As the two worlds intersect, stress can result from the fear that escalating online hostility will spill over into real life.

While there are several reasons for using social networking, it appears that its main function is for increased contact with friends and family along with increased engagement in social activities. However, research has shown that young adults with a strong Facebook presence were more likely to exhibit narcissistic antisocial behavior; while excessive use of social media was found to be strongly linked to underachievement at school.

So, if you take roughly 1.2 billion Facebook users and 450 million people suffering from mental disorders, what do you get? A global pandemic that’s showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

A matter of contention prevalent within the media, several studies have shown that social networking – Facebook in particular – can have detrimental effects on our well-being. Researchers from the University of Michigan assessed Facebook usage over a fortnight and found that the more people that used it, the more negativity they experienced concerning their day-to-day activities; as well as over time, incurring higher levels of dissatisfaction with their life overall.

We understand who we are partly in terms of our role in relationships and in terms of social comparison. As we spend more and more time in cyber-society, we should be wary of becoming dependent upon it for our sense of identity. For some people, engagement in social media has extended their sense of self to the identity they have in cyberspace. Their smart device can become an extension of their self. If a person has become so attached to their smart device that they are stressed when separated even briefly, he or she might need to re-evaluate the social priorities in their life. We are so much more than the number of likes we score on social media. Being with the ones we love brings satisfaction and fulfilment to our lives. Virtual reality should enrich and extend our relationships, not replace them.

I great quote by B. R. Ambedkar, he once said:

“Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.”

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