top of page

The Perils of Digital Disconnection: How Technology Estranges Us from Our True Nature

In the whirlwind of exponential and rapid technological advancement, humanity finds itself increasingly estranged from its core essence. As artificial intelligence and digital devices permeate every facet of modern life, a growing body of research suggests that this high-tech revolution is driving us further away from the very qualities that make us human while creating a sacrifice of sorts to finding our true self. Our part may be fixed but at what cost? In the long game, will this create the same polar problems that got us striving for further tech advancement in the first place? After we are drained of our humanity and essence will we be able to recover? Will the world, mother Gaia be waiting for us?

Psychologists have long observed a disturbing trend - as our virtual interactions have intensified, our ability to forge genuine, empathetic connections has deteriorated. A 2021 study published in the American Psychological Association journal found that "increased social media use was associated with decreased face-to-face social interaction, which in turn was associated with lower well-being."[1] The authors concluded that this "digital displacement" of real-world socializing is taking a substantial toll on mental health and emotional resilience.

This dynamic points to a deeper spiritual malady. At our core, humans are relational beings, hardwired for intimate connection and a profound sense of belonging. Yet the time-honored rituals, embodied practices, and face-to-face communal bonds that once nourished the human spirit are being supplanted by a world of screens, algorithms and virtual personas.

As philosopher Martin Buber observed, "All real living is meeting."[2] But in the digital age, true intersubjective encounter is becoming increasingly rare. We risk forfeiting the very essence of our humanity - our capacity for empathy, vulnerability, and the transcendent experience of being fully present with another soul.

Tragically, this estrangement from our relational nature is also manifesting in our treatment of the natural world. As we immerse ourselves in synthetic environments, our felt sense of kinship with the more-than-human realm fades. Environmental philosopher David Abram poignantly notes, "In severing our ancestral reciprocity with the earthly elements, we sever also the flow of our felt participation in the larger life of the planet.”[3]

If humanity is to navigate the mounting crises of our time with wisdom and care, we must heed the warning signs of our growing distance from our true nature. As the Essenes of antiquity taught, it is only by returning to a lived experience of our fundamental unity with all of creation that we can truly find the peace and wholeness we so desperately seek.

[1] Twenge, J. M., Martin, G. C., & Spitzberg, B. H. (2019). Trends in U.S. Adolescents' media use, 1976–2016: The rise of digital media, the decline of TV, and the (near) demise of print. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8(4), 329–345.

[2] Buber, M. (1958). I and Thou. New York: Scribner.

[3] Abram, D. (1996). The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. New York: Pantheon Books.

240 views0 comments


bottom of page