1) Birth Control – Children have become a choice to be made instead of a blessing to welcome with a humble openness. An emphasis is placed on the couple over the family. Sex is divorced from procreation so that it becomes about maximizing personal pleasure.
2) Delayed Marriage – Marriage takes on more gravity because it’s a choice that needs to be made and there is a fear of making the wrong choice. Then no-fault divorce becomes the white out for a bad choice and is the nagging exit clause that hangs around in the back of both partners’ minds for as long as they are together. Men and women are interchangeable to the degree that any type of role distinction is gone. Trial marriage and serial monogamy has become an acceptable norm.
3) Social Media – Information is wide-open so that the intimacy created by shared private information is gone. We are constantly connected and eternally present to anyone who has our contact information, so that face-to-face communication loses its urgency. Twitter encourages short bursts of impulsive aphorisms over carefully thought-through responses. Communication is more and more depersonalized and egocentric.
4) White Noise – There is little to no reprieve from media so there is little opportunity to change patterns and habits and to seek deeper intimacy with friends and family. We have little time to process emotions and thoughts about the media we are consuming. Time spent talking with people is typically time spent away from media and entertainment and we have shorter attention spans and lesser tolerance for silence and time spent simply being in the presence of another.
5) Schedule Segmentation – We continually divide our daily lives into smaller and smaller segments in order to fit more and more activity. This gives us the illusion of productivity, but mostly it just adds to our stress and fatigue. There is no rest from activities because our lives are scheduled down to 15 minute segments. No one shares the same schedule and there is no flex time built in to accomodate chance meetings or conversations that extend past their alloted time. So, no one is sharing life.
6) Specialization – Jobs are becoming more and more specialized so that no one has the same work experiences, and we lose sight of how our particular job fits into the whole of society.
7) Independance – The philosophy of suburban life is built around reducing necessary interactions with and dependance on other humans. Many of our amenities are self-initiated and sustained or completely automated: self-check outs, self-serve stations, self-driving vs. public transit, single-person apartments, grocery stores with endless options, etc.
8) Customization – We all have a personalized radio station, playlist, netflix cue, DVR folder, facebook page, twitter, RSS feed, etc. which we prefer to what everyone else is watching or listening to. Conversation topics are drying up as we retreat into our own personalized niche worlds.
9) Individualism – We are training ourselves to expect instant gratification and get frustrated and impatient when things don’t go our way. We expect everything to work out for us all the time and overreact when it doesn’t. When we are not satisfied with something we have ample forums to vent through and endless options for upgrades.
10) Pain avoidance/pleasure indulgence – Why risk hurt, pain, disappointment when your every need is satisfied? Conviction has been muted in favor of tolerance. No war is worth fighting, no sacrifice is worth making. Live and let live is the motto of the day. We are no longer seriously striving together to make a better world, though we talk about it a lot.