There is a current tendency for people to attempt to maintain their individual stability, order and peace, by retreating into a private universe and avoid all encounters which would wake them up. They attempt to control personally their intellectual contexts and social structures, preferring to be bound by habits and institutions, reduced images of security and well being. Social controls are used to deny the things which they would prefer not to know. Only life styles which seem to be successful in this attempt to remain asleep are pointed to as significant ways to participate in society: the modern experience of the struggle to be significant in society is often called the rat race. The result is a feeling that social structures are crumbling, roles are becoming meaningless and impotent, and participation in decision-making processes are ineffective.
When there are radical changes in the external world and familiar social environments disappear, people have no way of recognizing their personal significance in the universe nor of understanding their own importance. In order to shield themselves from the threat of being exposed to larger questions, they bury themselves in their jobs, families and leisure activities, and leave everything else out. They no longer function as self-aware persons.