Many vices have been attributed to the newer generations, the Zoomers and Millennials. They have mostly been along the lines that our generations are entitled and coddled. We are the loneliest and most anxious generations in recorded memory. Mental conditions of depression and stress are exploding as is the suicide rate. I have experienced multiple generations and have the academic background to analyze what’s happening with slightly more authority than average. I disagree that the newer generations are coddled and entitled, foremost, because that would only apply to socioeconomic classes that have been a shrinking minority since the outset of these generations’ existences. The stereotypical American has a soccer mom but the average American doesn’t so even if the “coddling” was as bad as they say, it wouldn’t explain the rates increasing across the entire population.
The reasons people are more anxious, nowadays, has a lot to do with the old adage “if it bleeds, it leads”. The dating scene imploded in the 2010’s decade which makes sense if the biggest chick heart-throbs were Christian Grey and Zac Ephron playing Ted Bundy. A lot of people like laying the blame at the feet of feminism’s crusade against “toxic masculinity” but I fully support that crusade. The problem is that sexual violence is way more common in the media than it is in the population and that’s true because capitalism favors clickbait. The Q-Anon conspiracy arose, largely, from the Nancy Grace type media that was shared on social media. There were lots of social causes online to support but for every post about war crimes in Yemen or the crisis of climate change, there were dozens about sex trafficking. It warps the perception of reality of anyone in the depths of it. Even if you’re an attractive woman, you’re much more likely to be harmed by a natural disaster spawned by global warming than any sensational crime from tabloid media. Alas, one involves a hot planet and science and the other hot girls and violence. I have little faith in humanity but even less in its attention span.
So, social media and cable media have created a demon-haunted world because that’s what sells. People are miserable, in large part, because they’re afraid of monsters. If we look at the standard of living of people, it doesn’t correlate with people’s increased misery. Economically, people are worse off on average in America than, say, in the 1990’s but not by that much and happiness has decreased substantially more. Belief in Q-Anon amounts to roughly 10% of the American population so similar but less quixotic beliefs are probably much higher. That is strong evidence that the pain people are feeling is partially psychosomatic and that because the world they are seeing in the media is much darker, in a horror-movie sense, than it actually is. The world may be dark but it isn’t murderers, rapists, and stalkers that make it dark. It is the sheer incompetence, feebleness, and selfishness of the human condition. The demon-haunted world is, perhaps, a self-fulfilling prophecy because it creates an army of mind-controlled zombies. People afraid of boogiemen can be induced to commit genocide, that’s happened before, it’s happening now in places like Burma with the genocide there, and it can happen here.
The narrative created is not only a demon haunted world but a melodrama that leaks into the most mundane echelons of human life where every instance of suffering has a villain and represents oppression. Now, while I defended the crusade against toxic masculinity earlier, I’m going to return to the world of identity politics for what they’ve actually done wrong and it isn’t that. Rather, it is the flaws of Marxist social analysis. Karl Marx, right or wrong, was sane. Michael Foucault was objectively insane. The difference between their approaches is the key here. Foucault took Marx and applied his analysis to every minute detail of human life, arguing that everything was class struggle. To use the feminist example, academic feminists have written long papers that examine how smiling is a socially constructed form of oppression meant to signify docile submission of one class beneath another. As identity politics has trickled into everyday life, everything in life has become political. The cognitive biases that narrate our lives rationalize every episode in our lives as being sympathetic to ourselves and when combined with Foucault’s adaptation of Marxism, that means every ounce of pain is resultant from some form of societal oppression, regardless of how trivial or asinine.
That means there is an epidemic of self-pity. One of the things I’ve noticed is that forgiveness and reconciliation are far less common among contemporary people than they used to be. That is because the people who offended them were their oppressors, according to their internal narrative. It becomes Godwin’s Law. Everybody someone doesn’t like becomes Hitler. While Joe Biden touched girls in too touchy of ways as a politician, he was not a pedophile yet I have heard many times that he was. According to them, kissing a young girl’s forehead and holding her shoulders isn’t just gross and too close but full-on pedophilia. Every boyfriend who didn’t treat you right becomes a domestic abuser. Everything annoying and inconvenient becomes as dark as the villain of a horror film. To quote Jon Stewart from his 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity, “We are living in hard times, not end times!” So, my advice to the world is to chill the fuck out. Let’s fight the fascists by making-out in no-man’s-land and staging Burning Man style be-ins on the holy sites of the regime. If we’re going to fight the power and stage a revolution, I’d rather be Abbie Hoffman than Alex Jones. And if I’m going to watch pretty white women, then I’m going for Disney princesses or something like that. You know, married and happily ever after and not murdered. Sorry Nancy Grace.
One thought on “Consumerist Media & Anxiety: Paranoia, Self-Pity, and their Origins in Clickbait”