Are You Connected?
Our lives are becoming more and more virtual – from virtual banking to virtual friendships. Kabbalah explains that the virtual world is a stepping stone to the spiritual world, where we are all truly connected as one.
Connection is something we all yearn for, that sense of belonging, of being loved. A connection with others is what holds families together and motivates people around the world to join clubs, religions, and fraternal organizations. Whether society views the specific activity as positive or negative, the pull to “belong” to all these groups is undeniably powerful.
Yet at the same time, we live in a world where people are more isolated than ever. We no longer live in towns or villages where everyone knows the details of everyone else’s lives. We live in suburbs or enormous cities where we often don’t even know our neighbor’s name! Relationships with the local grocer, banker, and retailer have been replaced by self-service machines and internet shopping, and even the family structure is breaking down. That’s how isolated we have become.
Stretched (Apart) to the Limit
The wisdom of Kabbalah tells us that these two extremes – the growing desire for connection and our growing isolation - are inextricably linked together. The desire for connection stems from our spiritual origins, where we are all united as parts of one common entity. However, the desire for pleasure at the expense of others - our egoism - does not allow us to feel our existence within that entity. We instead feel our existence as billions of separated individuals. And it is our egoism – which keeps growing - that is driving us farther and farther apart from each other.
The paradox is that the farther apart we are, the greater becomes our need for connection. It’s a bit like stretching a rubber band: the more you stretch it, the greater the tension that tries to bring it back to its original shape. Today, humanity has been stretched to the limits of egoism and isolation. People are beginning to buckle under the tension and weight, as can be seen from the epidemic of suicide, depression and domestic violence in the world.
What can we do about it? The only solution is to begin our journey back toward our connection. And whether we realize it or not, we are already beginning to do so, as evidenced by the growing influence of the internet and its most popular service – social networking.
Technology and Communications – Drawing the Connection
Strangely enough, the high-tech world, which played a major part in driving us apart by enabling each of us to be self-sufficient, is now offering us a way to reconnect with each other. Social networking sites are now the most popular feature of the web, even surpassing that long-time favorite, pornography.
For a world that values individuality, the internet provides a non-threatening way for people to connect based on shared inner qualities, interests, desires and goals. People can develop friendships with others around the world they may never even meet! What’s more, this can be done without the distractions that physical contact entails.
We don’t have to deal with these friends on a daily basis, or be subjected to any of those annoying personality quirks that can drive us apart. If you don’t want to deal with someone, you simply don’t open their email or accept their messaging invitations.
How does the virtual world enable us to develop connections with others without the interference of external impressions? It masks or minimizes such factors as physical appearance, race and religion, and enables us to connect on a deeper, more profound, and less material basis. Rather than being interested in another person’s external attributes, we can get in touch with their internality – their thoughts, likes and dislikes, impressions, and even their unique, personal perceptions.
But that’s not all: this desire to connect with others on a deeper level, and even to experience their innermost feelings and perceptions, has spurred the development of cutting-edge technology that may actually allow us to enter other’s perceptions. We may soon be able to experience another’s world through their eyes (and ears, and hands, etc)!
Valeria Fuso, a young Italian designer, has created an “Experience Recorder” - a device that will enable people to exchange their perceptions and experiences online. It is a “glove” that’s equipped with movement and temperature sensors, photo and video cameras, and an audio recorder. The device can work in automatic regime, capturing every moment of the user’s life, and has an option of immediate and independent access to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
Other new technology that’s being rapidly developed is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), where everything is done through voice, including commands, communication, and so on. VoIP is very convenient to use while moving around, so a person can literally be connected to the virtual community during all waking hours.
With the help of such cutting-edge technology, human communication is becoming more and more virtual. And with the availability of such easy access to a virtual connection, we are feeling less of a need to go out of our homes to meet with others. Why pay for the gas – which is getting more expensive from day to day - and lose so much time in traffic jams, when you can “see” others through the computer screen right in your own home?
All these factors are making the internet the prime means of communication and connection between people. Due to the virtual nature of the communication that takes place over the net, our external attributes are fading away and our “inner content” and connection are taking center stage.
From the Virtual World to the Upper World
Over time, we are discovering that all the external factors are irrelevant, and starting to seek a purely spiritual connection. However, we will soon discover that the virtual connection through the net and other hi-tech means is not enough to attain the absolute, spiritual connection we are seeking; and that a greater, spiritual connection is necessary.
In the meantime, our experiences with the virtual world are helping us experiment with what it’s like to connect beyond the physical realm. But rather than connecting in only the virtual realm of this world, we must learn to connect in the spiritual realm – the level where we all constitute one entity and are literally one. There is no connection – and fulfillment - greater than this.