One hundred solitudes

solitudine_lonelinessColonel Aureliano Buendía barely understood that the secret of a good old age is anything but a honest deal with solitude.

So wrote Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his novel One hundred years of solitude, but any of us could scarcely see themselves in Colonel Buendía’s choice.

The illness of our time, according to the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, is the fear of being alone. Paraphrasing Garcia Marquez, we could easily say that this is the fear of one hundred solitudes. A fear that erodes so deeply our soul, that we found dozens of ways to always keep connected with others.

In a recent article for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which quoted an abstract of the speech of the sociologist to the Milanesiana, a philosophy festival held in Milan, Bauman talks about a real obsession, that nearly forces us to be connected to leave us with the illusion of being more appreciated and less lonely.

Worse, Bauman says, is that we tend to bring the mechanisms of the offline life in the online world, though earning from it the easy ways to manage personal relations, or the reversibility of some choices or decisions, that are unlikely to be ineluctable in the online world.

As a result, we witness a detachment of the two realities, that are often re-assembled in a disorganised and unarticulated way, with significant repercussions on the ethical and social side.

Education plays a key role in preventing this from happening. School, and then university, has the purpose of teaching how to balance these two dimensions, fully living the “offline mode” and learning how to optimise the online one, drawing the advantages and limiting the downsides on the social sphere.

Our educational role cannot miss the interconnectedness of networks as a plus that hastens the educational process and teaches how to manage many tasks at the same time. Distances in the world shorten, horizons broaden.

However, we should preserve the real, traditional and physical relations that characterise our society.

In LUISS, we teach our students to get their hands dirty with the soil of the fields confiscated to the mafias, to cultivate a community garden, to manage the customer relations in a bar or a restaurant. Keeping this relation with the voice, the touch and the smell of the real world helps in preserving that offline dimension from whom we do not need to escape, learning also to enjoy at some point the silence of solitude.

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