7. The crescendo of upset that has developed in the last 50 years
At this point the march of ever increasing upset was knocking on the door of terminal alienation, which the following graph that I presented in TI illustrates.
Indeed, younger generations are now so alienated and in need of blocking out any confronting truth about the corrupted state of the human condition that any deeper thinking at all has become impossible—which is why universities provide ‘trigger warnings’ on any confronting subject matter, ‘safe spaces’ for students to escape such confrontations, and protection from ‘microaggressions’ that encounters with any truth about the extent of the upset in themselves or in the whole human race represent to them. A 2017 article in The Australian newspaper evidences this trend, with journalist Jennifer Oriel reporting that ‘half of undergraduate students [now] think it is acceptable to silence speech they feel is upsetting’ (25 Sep. 2017). In fact, Millennials (also known as the ‘Y-generation’, those born between 1982 and 1998) and subsequent ‘Z’ and ‘Alpha’ generations are described as ‘snowflakes’ because they melt if placed under any pressure.
Unaware of the instinct vs intellect explanation of the human condition and the ever-increasing levels of anger, egocentricity and alienation that the struggle to find that explanation has unavoidably caused, researchers have sought to blame the on-rush of alienation/block-out/denial/soul-estrangement/psychosis in emerging generations on such superficial causes as the overuse of communication technology, such as the internet, social media, smartphones and computer games. While this technology has greatly increased and spread alienation by exposing children to all the upset in the world which destroys their innocent, happy, trusting and loving souls, its overuse, even addiction, is the result of a massive need for distraction from overwhelming internal psychological pain.
As the psychologist Arthur Janov pointed out: ‘The brain [of young people today] is busy, busy, dealing with the pain’; with the result that ‘when there is stimulation from the outside…it meets with a very active brain which says “Whoa there. Stop the input. I have too much going on inside to listen to what you ask for”…Of course, the kid is agitated out of his mind, driven by agony inside. We want her to focus on 18th century art and she is drowning in misery’ (‘Once More on Attention Deficit Disorder’, 4 Apr. 2013).
Indeed, almost 10 years ago now in 2013 an art teacher at one of Sydney’s leading private schools told me that ‘while only two years ago students were able to sit through a half hour art documentary, I now know I lose them after only eight minutes; today’s students’ attention span is that brief!’ This comment mirrors an observation made by the political scientist David Runciman in a 2010 BBC documentary series about the internet: ‘What I notice about students from the first day I see them when they arrive at university is that they ask nervously “What do we have to read?” And when they are told the first thing they have to read is a book they all now groan, which they didn’t use to do five or ten years ago, and you say, “Why are you groaning?”, and they say “It’s a book, how long is it?”’ (Virtual Revolution, episode ‘Homo Interneticus’). The same documentary also included the following insightful statement from Nick Carr, the author of Is Google Making Us Stupid?: ‘I think science shows us that our brain wants to be distracted and what the web does by bombarding us with stimuli and information it really plays to that aspect of our brain, it keeps our brain hopping and jumping and unable to concentrate.’
In the case of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, it allows people to be preoccupied/distracted (from the human condition) all day long with inane, frivolous, narcissistic, superficial self-promotion and gossip. The result of this extreme distraction from the ‘agony inside’ is that ‘The youth of today are living their lives one mile wide and one inch deep’ (Kelsey Munro, ‘Youth skim surface of life with constant use of social media’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Apr. 2013). Yes, ‘the net delivers this shallow, scattered mindset with a vengeance’ (‘The effects of the internet: Fast forward’, The Economist, 24 Jun. 2010). As one member of the Millennial generation self-analysed, ‘Alone and adrift in what [Professor] de Zengotita calls our “psychic saunas” of superficial sensory stimulation, members of my generation lock and load our custom iTunes playlists, craft our Facebook profiles to self-satisfied perfection, and, armed with our gleefully ironic irreverence, bravely venture forth into life within glossy, opaque bubbles that reflect ourselves back to ourselves and safely protect us from jarring intrusions from the greater world beyond’ (Tom Huston, ‘The Dumbest Generation? Grappling with Gen Y’s peculiar blend of narcissism and idealism’, EnlightenNext, Dec. 2008-Feb 2009).
What all this exhaustion of soul has finally led to in the last few years is that young people are starting to give up on having anything to do with anything. A 2018 study by ‘social scientists seek[ing] explanations for millennials’ moderate ways’ said that ‘something is up’, ‘teenagers seem lonelier than in the past’, and talked of ‘young people becom[ing] virtual hermits’, and of ‘taking it slow. They are slow to drink, have sex and earn money.’ It said that ‘teenagers are getting drunk [on mind-numbing alcohol] less often’ and ‘other [escapist] drugs are also falling in favour’, and ‘young people [are] harming each other much less than they used to. Fighting among 13 and 15-year-olds is down across Europe’, and ‘teenagers are also having less sex’. It said that ‘In short, young people are less hedonistic and break fewer rules than in the past. They are “kind of boring”’ (‘Teenagers are better behaved and less hedonistic nowadays but they are also lonelier and more isolated’, The Economist, 10 Jan. 2018). The truth is that the last refuge for the terminally alienated is dissociation from the world. In fact, the epidemic numbers of children now suffering from the extremely agitated mental condition of ADHD, and the completely-dissociated-from-the-world state of autism, shows how this terminal stage of upset is upon us.
The following stories in the media provide a powerful snapshot of the rapidly increasing levels of alienation in society over the last 20 years.
The fact is the paralysed, can’t-cope-with-anything, aptly titled ‘snowflake’ millennials are now describing themselves as ‘The Burnout Generation’—although, unable to acknowledge their extreme psychosis/soul-death/alienation from the end play state of humanity’s heroic search for the explanation of why we corrupted our cooperative and loving instinctive self or soul as being the real reason for their burn-out, they are blaming it on such superficial causes as stress from the overuse of ‘smartphones’ and from ‘the 2008 financial crisis’; to being ‘scared’ of the world due to ‘intensive’ ‘helicopter parents’; and in general to the ‘mental load’ produced by the ‘systems of capitalism and patriarchy’! (Anne Helen Petersen, ‘How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation’, BuzzFeednews.com, 5 Jan. 2019.) As is explained elsewhere in this book, materialistic ‘capitalism’ and the ‘patriarch[al]’ work of solving the human condition are what has saved the human race from extinction, but such is the despair and madness of thinking in the human mind now that our saviours are portrayed as the villains.
In terms of understanding the non-superficial, real reason for the increase in upset from one generation to the next, which was the upsetting effects of humanity’s heroic search for knowledge, there were two components. Firstly, there was the upset each person developed from their own experiments in self-management when there was no understanding of how such experiments could lead to outcomes that weren’t consistent with what our cooperative and loving instinctive self or soul expected—which, without that understanding, were coped with by defensively attacking, denying and trying to prove wrong those implied criticisms of our experiments; which, again, is the upset that self-management caused while we didn’t understand that we weren’t bad to search for knowledge and make mistakes. The second, and by far the greatest reason for the increase in upset that has occurred from generation to generation is the soul-destroying influence of the existing levels of upset in your society from all the upsetting searching for knowledge that has taken place before you arrived in the world. Each generation is born expecting to encounter the all-loving and all-sensitive world we humans originally lived in, and the more upset/soul-corrupted the world we actually encounter is, the more bewildered, hurt and damaged our soul became by that encounter. When the great psychiatrist R.D. Laing wrote that ‘To adapt to this world the child abdicates its ecstasy’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.118 of 156) he was recognising how sensitive our soul is and how much it dies when it doesn’t encounter the love and happiness it expects. Admitting the loving sensitive nature of our instinctive self or soul is what allows us to understand what is crippling younger generations. What the internet does then that is so destructive of young people is expose them to no end of soul-terrifying-and-deadening trauma. Playwright Samuel Beckett was only slightly exaggerating the brevity today of a truly loved, soulful, happy, innocent, secure, nurtured-with-unconditional-love-from-mothers-and-reinforced-with-unconditional-kindness-from-fathers, sane, trauma-free life when he wrote, ‘They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more’! (Waiting for Godot, 1955.)
And the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 has so magnified the already unbearable levels of upset in younger generations that our youth are now living in a completely overwhelmed and traumatised state. If, since 2 million years ago, human life had not been based on living in denial of the truth of our corrupted condition while we couldn’t explain it, and we could see how terminally psychologically upset and soul-corrupted we humans have become, every publication in the world would carry the headline ‘We have to solve the human condition right now or all is lost.’ The following famous painting by Théodore Géricault captures the true extent of the exhaustion of the human race and the now absolutely desperate need to find the relieving understanding of the human condition.
Unfortunately, because we are living in alienated denial of the truth of our soul-corrupted condition, apart from some superficial recognition of our psychologically distressed state, such as the TIME magazine cover stories, there is not even any mention of the linchpin issue of the human condition in the media! Truly, as that breathtakingly honest psychiatrist R.D. Laing also wrote, ‘Our alienation goes to the roots [p.12 of 156] …the ordinary person is a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be…we hardly know of the existence of the inner world [p.22] …The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man [p.24] …between us and It [our true selves or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete [p.118] …The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness [p.116] (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967). ‘We are dead, but think we are alive. We are asleep, but think we are awake…We are so ill that we no longer feel ill, as in many terminal illnesses. We are mad, but have no insight [into the fact of our madness]’ (Self and Others, 1961, p.38 of 192). ‘We are so out of touch with this realm [this issue of the human condition] that many people can now argue seriously that it does not exist’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, p.105). Yes, the level of madness, and conversely the level of bravery of the human race, is astronomical! Even though not many are aware of it yet, MERCIFULLY THE HUMAN CONDITION HAS BEEN SOLVED—THE INSTINCT VS INTELLECT, RECONCILING, REDEEMING AND REHABILITATING BIOLOGICAL EXPLANATION FOR WHY WE CORRUPTED OUR SPECIES’ ALL-LOVING AND ALL-SENSITIVE BUT NON-CONSCIOUS ORIGINAL INSTINCTIVE SELF OR SOUL HAS BEEN FOUND! These clearly unresigned, denial-free, honest lyrics from the 2010 Grievances album of the young American heavy metal band With Life In Mind also powerfully reinforce how ‘desperate for the answers’ about the human condition we have been, and also how ‘Fear is driven into our [young people’s] minds everywhere we [they] look’, and how ‘scared to use our minds’ the human race has been: ‘It scares me to death to think of what I have become…I feel so lost in this world’, ‘Our innocence is lost’, ‘I scream to the sky but my words get lost along the way. I can’t express all the hate that’s led me here and all the filth that swallows us whole. I don’t want to be part of all this insanity. Famine and death. Pestilence and war. [Famine, death, pestilence and war are traditional interpretations of the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ described in Revelation 6 in the Bible. Christ referred to similar ‘Signs of the End of the Age’ (Matt. 24:6-8 and Luke 21:10-11).] A world shrouded in darkness…Fear is driven into our minds everywhere we look’, ‘Trying so hard for a life with such little purpose…Lost in oblivion’, ‘Everything you’ve been told has been a lie…We’ve all been asleep since the beginning of time. Why are we so scared to use our minds?’, ‘Keep pretending; soon enough things will crumble to the ground…If they could only see the truth they would coil in disgust’, ‘How do we save ourselves from this misery…So desperate for the answers…We’re straining on the last bit of hope we have left. No one hears our cries. And no one sees us screaming’, ‘This is the end.’
The completely exhausted inclination in emerging generations to give up on life is going to have, indeed is already having, very serious political and thus social consequences. Basically, rather than continue the heroic but psychologically upsetting, anger, egocentricity and alienation-producing battle against our instincts that unavoidably results from searching for knowledge, ultimately for self-knowledge, the all-important, psychologically relieving understanding of our corrupted human condition, they want to quit the battle, throw in the towel, give up on finding knowledge. Exhausted by the battle, they are throwing their hands up and saying ‘Let’s just stop this struggle and be good to each other’—vote for outrageously irresponsible, extreme pseudo idealistic socialists like Jeremy Corbyn in British politics and Bernie Sanders in US politics. To quote from a 2016 article in The Atlantic, ‘And if there’s one thing people are learning about this young generation, it’s that they are liberal. Even leftist. Flirting with socialist. In Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, more than 80 percent of voters under 30 years old voted for Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist so outside the mainstream of his party that he’s not even a member’ (Derek Thompson, ‘The Liberal Millennial Revolution’, 1 Mar. 2016).
As will be described shortly when the development of Postmodernism and then Critical Theory is explained, this abandonment of the immensely upsetting, heroic battle the human race has been involved in to find understanding of the human condition has developed into not just a totally dishonest attitude, but into totally dishonest philosophical theories about the very nature and purpose of human existence!
Yes, it certainly is endgame for the human race when humans completely give up on thinking, which is essentially what has happened to those born since 1982 (those under the age of 39 in 2021 when this book was written). Indeed, a further indication of how terminally alienated the human race has become is that we get virtually no response to our online advertisements that promote understanding of the human condition from those now under the age of 39. The all-important issue of our species’ troubled human condition has become just too unbearable to even begin to think about for all but a rare few who are younger than that. Some of us from the Sydney WTM who attended a seminar on online marketing in 2017 were actually told that ‘conventional advertising doesn’t work with anyone under the specific age of 35’, and that they require ‘much more backed-off, minimalist, even oblique messaging’ (Salesforce World Tour). Business is finding it hard to find functional Millennials to employ. The chair of Australia’s national broadcaster, Ita Buttrose, complained that Millennials ‘so lack resilience they need hugging’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Jul. 2020). They are preferring to work from home, want to take their dog to work, ban phone calls from management because they find them too confrontational, want the business to have a climate agenda and be ‘woke’ so they can feel good about themselves. Elon Musk was so frustrated with their paralysis at his Tesla company he suggested they should go and ‘pretend to work somewhere else’—an inability to work that leads to society’s welfare and disability funds being drained! The snowflake frailty of Millennials and subsequent generations, the complete shutdown of the human mind that is taking place, the arrival of terminal alienation, is very real! In fact, with regard to our marketing, we have learnt that advertising to under 39s (in 2021) is so futile that we have no choice but to avoid it—which means that the initial appreciation and support of the human-race-saving understanding of the human condition is going to have to come from people over 39, which is a stark measure of the extremely serious, fast-running-out-of-time situation the human race is in.
It should be emphasised that what is said about Millennials and subsequent generations is not an attack on them. As is explained here and in TI, the unavoidable, heroic price the human race had to be prepared to pay for searching for knowledge was ever increasing levels of upset anger, egocentricity and alienation, which has led to the extremely upset Millennial and subsequent generations. So a generation’s particular level of upset is not their fault, rather it is a consequence of where it happens to fall in humanity’s progression of upset. Read more about the march of upset to terminal levels in F. Essay 55, and chapters 8:16A-Q of FREEDOM.