If we were to make a quick list of the main characteristics of modern society, what would they be? Technological, fast, exciting, dangerous? Generally along that line, probably. In this shiny, high-speed and super-technological modern society we realise at an early age that life is going to be a fast roundabout and if we don’t want to be one of the kids that gets left standing we’d better learn to run. We grow up without the need to invent our own games because toy and software manufacturers make it their business to invent them first – all we have to do is persuade our parents to dish out the money (funny how the old mantra about money not buying happiness -as true as it may be – seems to be ever less convincing today).
Then there is the scary problem of fear. The vast majority of us, right from early childhood, are presented with an unfiltered, ‘as is’ world through television. This doesn’t need expounding upon – we all know well what it means – the constant alarms, alerts, breaking news (a term, incidentally, that traditionally refers to giving bad news).
As we continue to multiply and grow in number it becomes increasingly difficult to exchange comfort and strength and learning with others. Community is a term that is more and more an internet phenomenon. Internet separates people physically from their local communities and then joins them together virtually into one raceless global family (surely the most valuable aspect, from a human point of view, of the World Wide Web).
So once the dampers are put on natural growing rhythms, natural creativity and inventiveness, the security of innocence and identification with our local social ‘family’, we are left with a rather sorry picture of a population growing in numbers but becoming increasingly isolated.
The good news (phew!) is that Nature, Life, God or whatever else we might call it has a way of constantly following in the wake of our disasters to add some sort of balancing element, something that in some way seems to compensate – like the white moth left in Pandora’s box after she went and let all the bad ones escape (thought: could it be that life’s greatest law is that of balance?). And so along with the isolation caused by internet comes an unprecedented and limitless possibility for communication via the Web, and in the rush and the stress of modern city life the younger generations (in particular) reconnect with the slow and deliberate world of their ancestors, their gods and nature by adopting and adapting the ancient symbols.
Through these signs, painted and tattooed on our bodies or worn as jewelry, we are somehow reconnecting with our instinctive side (for which modern society life has no room and generally sees as a threat or, a best, a waste of time). By wearing the symbols and tattoos of ancient tribes we are reacting (mostly unconsciously) against the gradual loss of our cultural identities – whether Celtic, Chinese or American Indian. At the same time, perhaps, we are declaring our kinship with the new global internet community tribe.