NEWS

Focus on technology leads to social alienation

Internal migration and urbanization are considered to be basic causes of depression. «In Athens, there are areas with 6,000 inhabitants per square kilometer. This density causes numerous problems. The scope for individuality is restricted, as is the opportunity to communicate with other people.» Stephanis believes that institutions that once enabled emotional contact have almost disappeared. «For a start, the neighborhood has vanished. The extended family is constantly shrinking and the nuclear family has problems.» Television, computers and the Internet also contribute to depression. «Before, there were newspapers, and the family gathered round and talked. Afterward, everyone watched television, but without talking.» Within four to five years, internal family isolation will have increased as a result of computers, he warns. «Each member has his own personal computer; they can become absorbed in their own internal world. They go Web-surfing, talk with strangers anywhere on Earth. And they find that much more comfortable and convenient. It relieves them from having to make appointments, out of shyness, because they send and receive impersonal messages and thus become emotionally isolated from people around them.» Frustration Globalization has resulted in growing differences between people, and people compare their own lifestyles with those of other people. People see that someone else has something which they feel it is their right to have. Frustration and aggression are the result, which can also trigger off depression. Extreme daily anxiety, on the other hand, is something that is caused by living in large urban centers. People suffer anxiety over «getting to work on time, having the time to fulfill their obligations, losing their jobs, of being inferior to the competition. That goes for those in work. For the unemployed, there is the feeling of insecurity, of lack of self-esteem, of hostility to society and the sense of discouragement.» But Stephanis would not tell someone to change his or her life without seeing it first in its entirety. «At the moment, we are only looking at one side,» he said. The Internet, for instance, can make people feel more empowered through knowledge, even in doctor-patient situations. On being asked whether he thought that living standards were getting worse, he remarked these were difficult to define. «You have to look at life in all its aspects,» he said. People need to eat, to breathe and to reproduce, he said. «But people build on this basis. «They need to feel respected, that they are independent, which is the fundamental constituent of high living standards. This independence, however, should not be to such an extent that it is actually alienation.» «What is important in the modern world,» he concluded, «is that each person feels that he or she is making a contribution and that everyone is starting from the same point, and not that other people have all run on ahead while we’re just setting out.»