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Graphic Designer, contaminating NJ since 1985. I'm looking for contributors for Paradigm Magazine, please contact me if you are interested!
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    Individualism is a disease

    The more value our culture places on the self results in greater feelings of alienation and exaltation. Reestablish communication, talk to the one standing next to you be it at school, in your home, or waiting for the bus.

    Rebuild the human instinct of community.

    - Chris Fetherston 2007

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    pikachu     Fri, Jan 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Individualism does seem to be a sort of plague when taken to extremes. The American society reinforces individualism is every sense of the word, to the point where people do only what they need to get ahead, content to destroy every relationship they've ever had to get to their materialistic goals. Count on no one but yourself!
    It would be interesting to see the United States without its gung-ho take-what-you-can mindset. What if our country had a culture steeped in community and group work, like Japan?
    fetherston     Fri, Jan 4, 2008  Permanent link
    If I had to pinpoint the cause of this individualistic trend I would have trouble identifying it exactly. I believe it to be a combination of long standing cultural values involving the structure of its entertainment, marketing and politicians.

    However this poster is not about its causes, it is more about its end result. It is disheartening to see people of the same culture so isolated from one another in public places and gatherings. A casual conversation almost always ends in "...and what do you want?"

    Also, inline to your comment it is interesting to look at the similarities of Japanese and American youth.
    Wildcat     Sat, Jan 5, 2008  Permanent link
    I cannot possibly agree to the statement: “individualism is a disease”. Egoism, possibly, ego centrism, probably, selfishness, yes definitely! But individualism?

    In defense of Individualism, I think that the very act of self reflection by which you denounce individualism is in fact the practice of individualism by which you can and in fact have the inherent right of having an individual opinion, view, idea, thought, sensation or otherwise.

    Individualism is not in and of itself a disease, it is the conceptualization of the self as the center of the universe to the exclusion of all else that is the disease (if disease is the correct word to use in this context).

    Actually I think that the more one is an individual, the more one has the realization that life is an interdependence and consists of mutual support and deep rooted relationships that benefit all individuals, without diminishing the uniqueness of each and every individual.

    "Over himself, over his own mind and body, the individual is sovereign" — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859), "Introductory"
    sightbyvision     Sat, Jan 5, 2008  Permanent link
    Reestablish communication, talk to the one standing next to you be it at school, in your home, or waiting for the bus.


    This is a good idea.

    —-

    Wildcat's post is accurate.



    It's usually dangerous to say 'x' is bad or 'y' is good. Individualism, among other things, can produce alienation, but there's definitely good things that come of it too.
    When something, like individualism, gets out of hand, this kind of radical counter-message ("individualism is a disease") can be nothing less than what's needed to jolt us into awareness. However, if on the opposite end of individualism is, like you say, community, then I can easily imagine an individual in a mirror culture of our own saying, "Communism is a disease."


    I really like what you said though, about talking to the person right next to you. That's a person, right next to you. A whole other human being, the interaction with whom is a grand opportunity not to be foregone.
    InfoDux     Sat, Jan 5, 2008  Permanent link
    I liked the poster, and it was only out of sheer disbelief that I looked twice. How can Individualism be a disease!? ...intriguing...reckless but intriguing.
    Any forward minded intellectual will reject the claim that Individualism is a disease, I think. Consumerism, materialism/vanity, narcissism, all these are causes for concern...as they should first be to the people who practice them.
    Wildcat had some good points, in fact, they were so comprehensive that he pretty much killed the argument. There are however as many topics that can spring from this claim as there are egos that will fight in its response.
    So, needless to say, this has called for an assessment of the "trickle-down effect" to determine the diminishing reach society will have over its individuals i.e once genetic and cognitive enhancements slowly make their way down to the shelves at Walmart. Who gets at these first will be the ones who leap, skip and jump eons before us into the future. Our fate thus depends on how well we can distribute these modes of enhancement, not on the curtailing of its root cause and promise; Individualism is here to disperse us into the universe like pollen on a windy day.
    fetherston     Sun, Jan 6, 2008  Permanent link
    All great replies that I appreciate very much, thank you.

    A differentiation must be made between individualism, the political idea and individualism the frame of mind perpetuated by much of modern western cultural values. As a political idea, it's wonderful, empower and support a population at the individual level rather then statewide or nationwide control. I am in complete support of that and by no means calling it a disease.

    It is the negative focus on the self perpetuated by advertising and entertainment that I am trying to call attention to as the disease. The result of these ideas creates a man isolated in him self, closed to any outside conversation that will not directly benefit him. This is the individualism I am calling a disease.

    Thank you infodux, sightbyvision and wildcat for pointing out the parallels that can exist with the topic statement, and I may consider honing this idea into something that doesn't have this potential miscommunication.
    InfoDux     Sun, Jan 6, 2008  Permanent link
    Could you elaborate on how advertising and entertainment perpetuate this neative focus on the self? Are you talking here about what is generally considered the "Rat Race", "every man for himself", "amass as much as you can w/o questioning the value" ...and such Ideas...If so the poster claim does its job by attracting attention, however it may have nothing to do with individualism at all...
    First Dark     Tue, Jan 8, 2008  Permanent link
    I heartily agree with what has been said by Wildcat and InfoDux. The title of this entry makes me cringe. Yes, worldwide humanity needs to improve greatly upon itself as a community.

    A community of individuals, that is.

    You seem to be neglecting the primary factors in this issue, such as tribalism (in-group/out-group mentalities, ethnocentrism, etc.) and technology (portable entertainment and communication). Whilst most humans retain primitive mindsets, technological conveniences have enabled them to travel around the world without leaving their own little bubbles of comfort and familiarity (or should I say, narrow-mindedness and ignorance). Why talk to the stranger sitting next to you waiting for the bus when you can talk to someone you already know via cell phone? Of course, there are many other factors, like the fear inculcated by others (such as parents), but I don't have time to elaborate.

    No, I think you have this terribly wrong. Individualism is the cure for so many of our problems. Neither Space Collective nor any of the minds represented by it would exist were it not for individualism.

    People should talk to the occasional * stranger not simply because the stranger is another human, but out of a genuine interest in this unknown person as an individual with her/his own unique identity.

    And I must say, I am very uncertain what you mean by "the frame of mind perpetuated by much of modern western cultural values" but I don't think this is really individualism at all.

    *There is no reason we should completely abandon our biases by talking to every stranger we find ourselves near. However, we must make sure that personal bias does not become overshadowed by narrow-mindedness, fear, and/or hostility.
     
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