Without getting all philosophical and all, this post-modern age (this era that has emerged from the modern age that gave us the affluent, technological, media-driven, high-production, successful lifestyles we enjoy) is rooted in all kinds of things, a major one of which is personal disconnectedness. We are alone, un-rooted, migrants, cut off from traditions and families with no sense of belonging. We’re pretty much on our own. In the words of David Wells, its the age of homelessness (not literally for most but figuratively for nearly all). It is the age of the autonomous self. It’s all about the individual and it plays out in virtually all arenas of life. But where did this autonomous self come from?
My personal answer is that is came from trying to get some service for my phone and internet. My land-line phone wasn’t working today and neither was my internet for a while. I found that out when I tried to log on to our provider’s site and update some information. I couldn’t log in. Then I tried to call, but my call got cut off. So I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my way through the menu but never talked with anyone personally. Just when I was getting close to being able to talk to an actual person I was told that I would incur a service charge if I did talk with a real, live person. I hung up because that sounded ridiculous. Determined that I had to figure out what was wrong, I called again and forged my way through the labyrinth of menu options and finally got a live, human voice who told me it was not a billing problem because my bill was current. She transferred me to technical support and I once again got a live voice, not from around here, but from somewhere out there. They knew me only by my account number and name on their computer screen. Their personal touch was to call me “Mr. Mark” in a dialect I had difficulty understanding. This person wasn’t able to fix my problem but gave me a phone number to call since my problem seemed to be a local connection issue. I called that number and got the same recorded voice and menu I had gone to previously. I was back at the beginning. So, I tried again to trace my way through the menu maze pushing button after button and option after option, running upstairs in between button-pushing to check on our other phone as instructed by the impersonal voice, and dutifully entering each number I was asked for. I am pretty sure that when everything was said and done I ended up making an appointment for a service technician later today. I think I know what time. I have no idea if I’m going to be charged for a service call. A service ticket has been produced somewhere out there for a nameless technician, and now I guess I’ll wait and see if anyone shows up. I think they are but I never actually talked with anyone to confirm it. Talk about frustrating. Talk about feeling powerless. Talk about wanting to drop this provider and go look for another one. I made the passing comment to my wife, “It’s stuff like this that makes post-moderns.”
Sometimes it seems there is no one to stand up for you, no one ready and willing to help you. You’re left on your own, alone, until you’ve had enough, and you rise up for yourself to fend for yourself, to assert yourself, to not be treated this way any more, to refuse to be a nameless number, to get some attention. It’s time to assert self.
Welcome to the world of post-modernism.
By the way, asserting self, in the long run, won’t work unless you’ve got a big mouth, a lot of money or a big army (the need for which will depend on the size of the problem)! I have none of the above. Honestly, I don’t need any of the above because I know that there is a God who is real, who is bigger than me, smarter than any bureaucracy, more powerful than any army, and who, for reasons known only to him, actually cares about me!
Him or me? As I see it, He is probably all that keeps me from plunging into the lostness of myself in this post-modern age!