“The proliferation of digital technology has created an interesting paradox: devices that were designed to connect people have coincided with increasing rates of isolation, with nearly half of Americans reporting feelings of loneliness. Gen Z, the generation that has grown up immersed in a culture of communication technology, has fared the worst.
It turns out that this paradox of isolation and connection is nothing new. Fyodor Dostoevsky observed a similar trend in his own day. In Dostoevsky’s work, Brothers Karamazov, Father Zosima describes the isolation of Russian society in the late 1800s: “We are assured that the world is becoming more and more united, is formed into brotherly communion, by the shortening of distances, by transmitting of thoughts through air.”
Do not believe them, he tells us. According to Dostoevsky, the seeming connectedness of Russia at the time was only a thin veneer covering the reality of a deeply isolated and lonely society. Another character in the book explains:”
[Isolation is] that which is now reigning everywhere, especially in our age… For everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing himself away from people and pushing people away from himself….