Monday, May 4, 2015

Crisis of Meaning in the 21st century: Part One.

The entire title of this post is actually offered as a unit at La Trobe university. It is a sometimes vague, sometimes palatable feeling I dwell on quite a lot these days.

In a world that is increasingly globalised and hyper-connected, with every action we take to 'undo' or 'change' the things we dislike, to challenge the status quo feeling futile, useless and meaningless, how is one to address and channel these feelings?

Some take to social media to broadcast their every thought as if it were holy gospel. Others take to the mountains and camp in the desert to get away.

How is one meant to cope in a world that is full of contradictions, hypocrisy, unfairness but simultaneously filled with beauty, mystery and hope.

I do not know if hope is an entirely helpful or destructive emotion/ mindset.
We are capable of great things in our limited life times on this planet.
Studying politics is like picking a thread, and watching a whole tapestry unravel before you have a chance to realise what you have done

Currently I am in a research project, and a lot of the findings are quite confronting. I won't bore you wanderer with the details, suffice to say it has a lot to do with suicide rates in industrialised countries- the 'success' stories of history and that demi-god we pay too much attention to- Economics.

It also has a lot to do with hyper-connectivity and the role social media is playing in eroding our identities rather than perhaps just being an aspect of our life. We are living in a time where we can carefully craft, construct and project an idealised version of ourselves. The 'success' story of ourselves. Meanwhile, in industrialised countries, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that suicide rates are higher in countries considered 'developed'-but clearly social problems are inherent, and younger generations are increasingly turning to non-viable solutions for genuine help.

But it is a mixed bag. Sometimes when older people who were genuinely lucky to have grown up without the prevalence of technology and social media lament the younger generation's inability to 'get a grip', I feel conflicted. I try to be wary of my online presence, but now we are living in a time where people, particularly young people cannot make a mistake without some d*bag somewhere, recording, uploading and sharing it.

Part of being human is the inevitability of making mistakes, and being allowed to move forward and past them. A lot of the info we are looking at relates to what factors are contributing to this. Of course there are a multitude of factors of why suicide rates in developing countries are lower, family dependence, high religiosity and high community presence seem to be a form of protection against taking your own life.

In Australia, there is a growing suicide rate and I believe a multi-lateral approach needs to be taken to investigate contributing factors. Hyper-connectivity means more information, more people, at your fingertips, but not necessarily whom you can depend on, or are present in a physical sense.

Blanket statements about 'this generation's' inability to cope is a blaming tool. Every social problem adolescents and young adults go through has been present for decades, but now, there is an increasing audience to broadcast to, be shamed by, opened up to potential ridicule by, form a dependence on and expect interaction from. 
I also believe that the prevalence of 'news now trending' alongside where people go to seek approval from, creates an enormous imbalance. Does anyone really care that you got new shoes when an Earthquake hit Nepal? Apparently, they do. This mega mix of real world events affecting millions creating chaos and destruction, alongside the mundane daily details of privilege, is creating a gap people fall into. This chasm of disastrous real world events and egotistic individualism is leaving people more lost and confused in a virtual presence for everyone to see. 

What meaning does life have when we are inundated with events we feel anxious and paralysed to do anything about?

Should we focus on Animal Rights?

Do we focus on Human Rights?

What about the rights of Business? And the flow on effects that has on citizenship, society and 'democracy'. 

When we look at social problems only in economic figures, we are blind, and cruel. Every time a national event happens, and some cruel meme circulates full of nationalistic, empty, bigoted rhetoric, with a simplistic and reductive view of an event that has so many ongoing effects, I wonder how we can balance this idea of confronting such keyboard warriors, without opening ourselves up to what becomes a personal attack. Social media seems to be entirely the wrong place to vent political concerns, as people take something so personally, which in its entire conception and presentation presence is very anti-personal.
I always tend to whisper "Momento Mori" to myself at such times. A lot of young people with increasingly bad anxiety and social problems, have a dependence on social media portrayals of themselves. A lot of them seem to make the mistake of thinking it is a progressive platform to espouse political views, then upload a photo of their cat to(but I suppose, I do the same thing here on this very blog). It is a strange mix of the sacred and the mundane.

So much more to write. Should perhaps leave it here

All pictures are courtesy of Pinterest

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