Living a meaningful life in this digital era

The search for life’s meaning has been there across the culture and historical periods, which is the basic need for all human beings. ‘Man’s concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to meaning in their life’ Victor Frankl (1971) [i]. The standard definition of a meaningful life has been as follows: ‘In positive psychology, a meaningful life is a construct having to do with the purpose, significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction of life. While specific theories vary, there are two common aspects: a global schema to understand one’s life and the belief that life is meaningful.’[ii]

The idea of a meaningful life has been beautifully explained in Indian traditions; the word krtakrtya combines two words. This krta means ‘done’, and krtya means ‘what was to be done’. Further, this word has three significant components: one, having done what was to be done; two, having attained some object; and three, contended/satisfied with whatever has been done. And the person who reaches at this stage of life is called Krtakrtya. Sri Shankaracharya amplifies this word by specifying that a person has fulfilled all his/her duties. Whatever a person must do as a result of one’s birth, all that is accomplished is when the reality of the Almighty/Supreme Lord is revealed or experienced.

The attainment of Moksha or spiritual liberation makes human life genuinely fruitful. When we live our life keeping this in mind, life becomes beautiful in the true sense. This is the ultimate aim that all human beings must pursue.

So, how can we lead our life in a meaningful way? It is said that the higher the ideal, the more meaningful life will be. Swami Vivekananda Ji said that the highest ideal of human life is attaining knowledge that leads to liberation. So, our goal in life should be the persuasion of knowledge because only perfect knowledge removes ignorance. Miseries in life come through ignorance. So ultimately, knowledge opens our doors to a blissful and peaceful environment in our life.

Consequences of the digital world. These days digital media is converting homo sapiens into homo connectus, who are always hooked on the digital platform. ‘The distinction between the real world and the virtual is no longer entirely clear. The line between the two is blurred as the two worlds intertwine, almost Gibbonesque, which says our blood and flesh are mixed up with circuits and devices. We have become wired and wireless selves, homo connectus, always logged on.[iii]

The consequence of such an interface is that nowadays, human beings are mainly connected through devices. Even the concept of connectedness and the definition of friendship has been changed drastically. People are so engrossed in digital media that it has become a reference point in life. A significant portion of our time in our life is devoted to the online platform, adapting new and emerging technologies, and have become a multitasking human tool. New digital media are shaping our daily routines. And the biggest problem is that people are developing alternate selves through digital technologies.

The more powerful the tool is, the greater good it offers, and equally, significant damage could be inflicted if not correctly harnessed.

The solution to the problem lies in the proper use of available things. We have to strike a balance in using devices and digital media to construct a balance in life. Here are a few tips which could help create balance in life.

  • Consider these devices as tools, not life itself. They are there to ease our life and not to complicate further. They can’t be a substitution for our life.
  • Limiting the use of electronic devices and self-control is the answer.
  • Spend some time outdoors, and indulge in physical activities.
  • Make a routine to do some manual work.
  • Never indulge in multitasking. It destroys your peace of mind.
  • Read books, magazines, and newspapers in printed form.
  • Seek self-silence every day, preferably in the morning.
  • We must seek wisdom, not information.
  • The most incredible service lies in using things properly, and the inappropriate use of things brings evil only.

Conclusion: Certainly, it is possible to create a machine that could behave like a human being with a brain, but still, it will be artificial, not original. Artificial things can produce only artificial life, far away from the original. Without our awareness of what we are doing could lead to a stage of madness, and awareness belongs to the spiritual realm and can’t be created artificially. Awareness is unique and only available to human beings; through awareness, we gain experiences in life. Use the digital world with complete awareness; let it not control you, but you control it. We (human beings) must outsmart the devices and digital world.

[i] The Ordinary Concept of a Meaningful Life › ris › download › name=Th. Accessed on 31 Oct, 2022.

[ii] Meaningful life – Wikipedia › wiki › Meaningful_life. Accessed on 31 Oct, 2022.

[iii] The Routledge Companion to Digital Consumption, eds. Russell W Belk and Rosa Llamas (UK: Routledge. 2013), 4.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.