Discover more from Culturcidal by John Hawkins
How Modern Society Makes People Depressed and Anxious
This tweet by Zuby is a “truth bomb” that most people, particularly younger Americans, won’t fully understand because they don’t know history and they didn’t live in the pre-Internet, pre-cell-phone era:
How much has the world changed over the last few decades? More than you might realize.
Did you know that both Jordan Peterson and Phil Stutz (Seth Rogen’s therapist who had a Netflix documentary made about him) say one of the first things they do with anxious patients is to get them to sleep on a regular schedule and normalize what they’re eating? For example, here’s Peterson on that:
"I have had many clients whose anxiety was reduced to subclinical levels merely because they started to sleep on a predictable schedule and eat breakfast."
Why? Because not getting enough sleep makes you tired, cranky, impacts your mood, and also tinkers with your hormones. Additionally, eating bad food and getting poor sleep are rampant in our society because the cheapest food is often the best tasting and least healthy. Meanwhile, most of us don’t get enough sleep:
The average American adult slept 7.9 hours a night in the 1940s. That has dropped to 6.8 hours a night.
We don’t get enough sleep because we’re so addicted to the Internet, social media, and our cell phones that we stay up later than we should night after night after night. Now combine that with the much more sedentary lifestyle that we lead compared to former generations of Americans and it creates a lot of physical and mental dysfunction.
Against this backdrop, we spend so much of our life looking at boxes. We look at cell phones, our laptops, and the TV. These devices are full of carefully designed, extensively tested triggers meant to tug at our consciousness and get us to look at them incessantly. Those triggers work extremely well:
US adults will spend 13 hours and 11 minutes (13:11) per day with media in 2022…
One of the reasons these devices are so effective at grabbing our attention is that media outlets have more expertly learned to prey on our negative emotions. What’s the prime selling point of a lot of the commercials we see? You’re bad. You’re broken. You’re not enough. However, if you use our product, life will be wonderful. Except even a populace so obsessed with consumerism that the average American is more than $90,000 in debt can’t buy every product and even if we did, the promises are all vapor anyway. All the better to get you to buy the “new, improved version” next year.
We also can’t forget the media. They’ve moved on from “if it bleeds, it leads” to “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Of course, it’s really more like, “If you’re not outraged, they’re not making money.” By the way, if you’re consuming a lot of media, you tell me… are you finding yourself outraged on a regular basis? Have you ever thought about how stories can be manipulated to outrage you? Have you considered how many stories that infuriate you on a daily basis would have been considered “not news” twenty years ago because they’re really trivial, local stories? How many times have you gotten angry over the last few years because of something some nobody from “Nowhereville, North Dakota” said or did to some other nobody that was hyped for days or even weeks by the media for the sole purpose of pissing you off enough to get you to tune in? Once you start thinking about it in those terms, you will start to see that manipulation all day long, every day. Think about that and ask yourself if it’s worth carrying those negative emotions in your body every day of the week.
Speaking of negative emotions, the nature of social media (I say something to get attention, you insult me to get attention, someone else insults you to get attention and we all get mad at each other) has bled over into our politics. Politics in America has always been nasty, but it used to be largely confined to targeting the politicians on the other side. Those people knew what they signed up for, but what about the rest of us? Increasingly, the political world is being painted as good (everyone that agrees with your side) vs. evil (everyone who doesn’t agree with your side). Is that healthy? No. Not at all.
That being said, boiling all of this down to, “It’s the media’s fault” wouldn’t come close to explaining the things that have changed for the worse.
If you’re talking about happiness and feeling like you’re in the midst of a life well-lived, you can’t get away from having a purpose. Of course, how many people have one anymore? What types of things help give people a sense of purpose?
Having a family to take care of and look after:
Running your own business:
Self-employment is not a new phenomenon. In 1900, 50 percent of American workers were self-employed. By 1977 that number had dropped to just 7 percent, as giant firms—for the first time—dominated the economic landscape. Currently, the self-employment share is 13 percent.
Certainly, there are other things that provide purpose that don’t neatly line up into a chart or a quote like making a significant contribution to the world, but in a world where we are increasingly connected to each other via screens, it’s certainly harder to make that meaningful contribution (yelling at people online certainly doesn’t qualify) and appreciate it even if it happens. In the old days, you might have taught Sunday school, helped a friend raise a barn, fed your neighbor’s animals while he was out of town, and hung out at the Elks or Kiwanis club with some pals on the weekends. But today? People’s friends are much more likely to be online and are much less likely to be close friends:
We can go on and on with this. Meaningless cog in the wheel work where you are one tiny piece of a giant company that you don’t care about, that doesn’t care about you, that gives you no sense of completion or enjoyment out of your profession. An increasingly degenerate society that leaves you less able to trust your neighbors and your government. A vast ocean of tempting pornography, drugs, alcohol, and every other addiction under the sun is more easily available than ever before. Increasingly dysfunctional relationships between feminine men and masculine women that start later, are less likely to produce marriage, less likely to produce children, and more likely to end in ugly divorces than ever before. People who are, for the first time ever on a large scale, spending enormous amounts of time trying to figure out their pronouns, their sexuality, and their gender. A culture that heavily emphasizes and rewards victimhood and that encourages you to claim to be offended on your own or others’ behalf. A society that has fragmented to the point where many people can’t even agree on the facts, have never heard of each other’s heroes, and have large, fundamental disagreements about nearly everything that matters. A media that’s so heavily politicized that there are no neutral, trustworthy sources of news on many topics.
This is what our degenerate society looks like and quite frankly, if you fit in well with it, there’s a significant likelihood that you’re going to be depressed, anxious, or otherwise mentally ill. Be different. Accept the idea that you shouldn’t even want to fit in with a broken culture. In fact, consider it a mark of honor. You can be happy, you can be successful, and you can have a good life, but you’re going to have to step off the beaten path, stop listening to people that are failing, and do what has already been proven to work. As far as we know, we only get one crack at life. Make it count.