The man is a social animal. We are all living in society it may be a village, town, or metro city. We are interdependent on one another. The present generation is blessed with maximum comforts, conveniences, technological gadgets, and appliances. There are so many devices like telephone, mobile, WhatsApp, Facebook to keep people in touch, like never before. If you happen to ask the man on the street some questions about his neighbors like name, profession, contact number, you are in for a disappointment, because very few would have the answers. Look at the people moving in common areas of housing societies or sharing lifts. Either they have plugged in the headphones or moving their fingers on the touch screen, or just lost in their thoughts. They neither know the people moving around them nor are interested to know them.In spite of living in the same complex, they are behaving like strangers. Most people identify their neighbors as ‘Punjabis’,’Madrasis’ etc. This is not what community living was supposed to be.
About fifty years back life was not so comfortable. There were not so many gadgets, conveniences or technological advancements. But human values and social values were intact. People not only knew their neighbors but also the people living in the vicinity and that too without the advent of WhatsApp, Facebook or even the humble telephone. They had concern for them and stood by them in times of need. They were together in times of celebrations and calamities. They solved their problems by discussing and using their collective wisdom, without seeking the help of the all-pervading Google.
Let’s go through some case studies to realize the gravity of the problem.
- Sonali was staying in Flat no 326 in Sector 29 Noida, with her parents, brother and a dog. This family did not have any contact with any residents of the society, because of their temperament. After the death of her parents, brother and dog she became depressed. She isolated herself by locking up in the flat.Sonali was ill and died after three months, but none of the neighbors even came to look her up. When the stinking smell started coming from the windows, the security guard called the Police who had to break open the door.
- Asha is a 30 years old working girl is staying alone in a flat in Mumbai. She doesn’t interact with any of the neighbors because of various reasons. She has no time; she doesn’t trust anyone being single; she has no interest in meeting anyone. She spends her free time watching TV, surfing the net and is very active on the social media. One day at 11.30 pm she suffered an asthmatic attack. She called up her colleague who came from 40 kms away and took her to the hospital. She could have just ringed her neighbor’s doorbell and got immediate help, but she was a stranger to them. Unfortunately, her condition deteriorated waiting for her friend to come.
- Mr. and Mrs. Reddy were staying in a flat in Bengaluru, with their aged father and two children. They were a working couple, who were so busy with their life that they had no time for their neighbors.Moreover, they felt that none of them were like minded and compatible with them. Once it so happened that the old man was ill and none of them could take leave from office, owing to some important commitment. As they had no communication with their neighbors, so they called the security guard just before going to the office, gave him a hundred rupee note and told him to keep checking their father on an hourly basis and keep them informed. The father who was from a village was wondering how people can be so isolated from their neighbors.
- Prof Tara Devi retired as a Professor of English at Delhi University. She lives in her house in Rajouri Garden, New Delhi. Being an exponent of Bharatnatyam, she taught dance to celebrities like Hema Malini and Vijayantimala.She was awarded by President Radhakrishnan.After retirement, her husband expired and she has been living in isolation. She does not go anywhere, nor does anyone come to meet her. She has lost interest in life and keeps gazing in emptiness. The people living in her vicinity are not bothered about her. This is a tragic case of loneliness.
There are many reasons for this growing sense of isolation in society. Let’s look into some of the factors which are responsible for this social malice.
- Joint families have become a thing of the past and nuclear families have become the in thing.
- Most of the jobs these days are so demanding in terms of time and energy, that people are exhausted when they return home. They spend the weekends relaxing at home or roaming around in malls.
- Most of the people are shy, unconcerned and self-centered, which keeps them away from others.
- People are in touch with hundreds of friends on the social media, but they have no time to say‘Hello’ to their neighbor.
- A suspicious attitude prevents people from trusting their neighbors.There is a lurking doubt that others are out to exploit me.
- People remain aloof under the garb of ‘privacy’. They don’t allow others to intrude in their lives.
- Be the first one to say ‘hello’ to fellow residents when you face them in common areas, lifts etc.
- Whenever a new neighbor moves in, take the initiative to introduce yourself, know about him and offer whatever help is possible.
- Organize and participate in community events, celebrations and picnics as often as possible.
- If you are a member of your society WhatsApp /Facebook groups then offer concrete help to people rather than just forwarding junk.
- Whenever you come to know that any community member is facing a crisis just leave everything else and go all out to help.
- In the event of any crisis, the relatives may take a few hours or days to reach, but the neighbors are just a call away. The concept of extended family is a blessing in community living.