By Bodo Morshäuser

The author himself wrote the judgment on this book. (Deutschlandradio / Dietz Verlag)

Is loneliness the price of modern freedom? Publicist Martin Hecht laments a society of egotistical people and warns of the consequences in a dramatic way. But his judgment falls on himself.

This book tells how modern man brings about his own misfortune by seeking the attention or approval of others. Those who see themselves praised, respected or confirmed fall into the trap, sooner or later feel it and fall into loneliness. In order to leave them, the attention of others is solicited over and over again – with similar results. So a hamster wheel.

There are warnings, complaints and warnings

“It is (…) about ‘isolated loneliness’, a loneliness which is not so much understood as an individual accompaniment of an unhappy biography, but as a kind of social virus that has crossed society in its together since then has entered that stage which characterizes modern individualism This loneliness of isolated individuals is now omnipresent in affluent societies with a democratic vocation and is felt almost every day.

The complaint is against individualism, that is to say a secular development or a movement of liberation of a life under external control towards the self-determination of the individual. In the current result of this development, however, the author sees a distortion of the original idea, he sees a “society of egocentric people”. This is how this book admonishes, deplores and warns.

Loneliness as the alleged price of freedom

Since people were no longer born into bondage, they had to pay a high price: “Because liberation means saying goodbye to others, and it is only by breaking old connections that the ego has the power. feeling that he is left alone On them The shortest formula brought: Just as freedom in society is bought with a certain coldness, the lack of freedom was previously the price of warmth in the community.

A slavery that runs its course as soon as the affection of others is sought or attention is sought to stabilize the ego. In the world of modernity, disappointment is guaranteed. In order to gain fun and recognition anyway, the stake is increased. On which the disappointment turns out to be even greater. The result is even greater isolation.

Generalizations instead of a differentiated view

Martin Hecht’s generalization has a downside though: when I think of people I know a little better or even well, there is hardly any connection between them and the conditions described in the book as a law of nature. . They are two different worlds. But not because I’m surrounded by happy people, but because Hecht prefers to generalize. What was it called, already?

“(…) and by breaking old connections, the ego first feels that it is left alone.” That I. So everyone.

Words like “all”, “everyone” and “always” are found in almost every paragraph. Differentiation is not the author’s business. He prefers to use the universal key. The limits of the current 200-page generalization become apparent when the author becomes specific.

Statistics contradict the book’s statements

In his eyes, the Internet is the worst machine for isolation and isolation. He does not know the advantages of the Internet. For him, it is synonymous with social networks, on which he only writes. Of course, attention is the motto – but does that make all users victims?

Selfies and photo editing programs as well as fitness studios are doomed here because ideas of the self are modeled that life does not provide. Apparently, the author does not know of any indoor gymnasium. Lone fighters everywhere who are naturally disturbed and live in isolation.

Relationships have broken down, writes Hecht: “But this form of loneliness – triggered by the increasing loss of life partners and friends – makes things even more difficult today. Statistics that record the number of divorces and separations are well known. “

Indeed, they are. A glance at the statistics wouldn’t have hurt the book, as divorces have been on the decline in Germany since 2004 – with a growing number of residents and marriages.

Another consequence of the incriminated isolation is suicide, suggests the author, referring to a thesis by Émile Durkheim from 1887 and affirming that it applies today more than ever. Statistics show, however, that the number of suicides in Germany has halved since 1981. A scornful look at the Internet would have been enough here too.

Secure your own assumption

The author underestimates the skillful and experienced inhabitants of the modern world, who know how to distinguish what concerns them and what does not. Who do not let themselves be fooled by promises of happiness lurking by the wayside. What the author underestimates are real people. His book can be done for them. But he doesn’t talk about them.

The author wrote my own judgment on this book: “The resentment that arises becomes the source of the journalistic argument – and remains until the end of the ‘argument’. simply a matter of creating ready-made models for your own hypothesis and saving it as well. With this impulsive production technique, a substance is not really openly discussed, but the initial suspicion is then filled with all kinds of material until it is believed that its inner mission has been fulfilled. “

The self-elation of the lonely and isolated modern man, deplored by the author, is also a self-description.

Martin Hecht: “The loneliness of modern people. How the radical ego threatens our democracy ”
Dietz Verlag, Bonn 2021
203 pages, 18 euros