So really, what’ve you got to be worried about?

I have a theory – of course I do – about the meteoric rise of depression and anxiety in today’s world.

Some people say it’s because our world is, frankly, depressing. But hang on – wasn’t it way MORE depressing back when you could go to jail for man-on-man action, to a nunnery for being pregnant out of wedlock, and to war whether you wanted to or not?

So here’s a different angle. Take elephants, for instance. Apparently there are very few elephants alive today who haven’t experienced family trauma (so I read). The thing is, poachers take the older elephants with the bigger tusks, leaving the younger elephants to grow up without the timely advice and guidance of their elders. And, in the process, fucking up the transmission of elephant culture so that basically, elephant herds are now the equivalent of some indigenous outposts – too many kids, not enough elders, and nobody knows what they’re supposed to be about any more.

Or take dogs. In MY day, dogs went out for walks in the neighbourhood, by themselves. You met them, you patted them, all good. They met each other, sniffed bums, got into the occasional stoush, also all good. Nowadays everyone’s dog is on a leash or in a dog park or behind a fence. Dogs don’t know how to relate to strange humans or dogs any more, except as intruders.  They get anxious. They bite. In short, dogs are no longer properly socialised into the general community, only into the Nuclear Family Unit.

And so to my latest theory about people. I mean, here we are, with our increasingly isolated little family structures and insular little lives (for instance, your nuclear two-plus-two out in the burbs somewhere, watching TV at night, Facebook by day). We’re not properly socialised – we don’t know how to cope with the vagaries of the world outside the home. Oh my God – we say – this sensation of being surrounded by Actual People, Outside – it’s freaking me out!!!

What do you reckon? Does this theory hold water? Or do you have your own view of why freaking out seems to be an increasingly common response to just being alive?

And moving on to a different topic, are you a Christian? Good, then maybe you can help me. You see, I’m an atheist. For me, anything goes. No Good Book to guide me. But I can appreciate the gist of Jesus. Be nice. Love thy neighbour. Forgive them their trespasses. Turn the other cheek. Don’t cast the first stone. If a beggar asks for your coat, give him your shirt too, and all that. So I’m genuinely puzzled when Christians fail to implement what seem to be to be fairly basic guidelines ((I’m sure we can all think of many examples). How does that work? How does one square it? ‘He didn’t really MEAN that the meek would inherit the earth…’ perhaps? Or ‘we’re all sinners, even Christians, so a few lapses here and there are fine…’? I’m actually, genuinely, puzzled.

To change the subject yet again, I asked my readers what they’d get rid of in the modern world (given God-like powers) and one woman said ‘stupidity’. Hallelulah – but it makes me wonder…what IS stupidity? How do you define it? Should you even try, for that matter?  Should we say  (of Honey Boo Boo’s mum, for instance, or a Trump hillbilly) that she may not know much of that airy fairy intellectual stuff, but she knows what’s what, and therefore, she’s as smart as she damn well needs to be? Or would we be justified in coming right out and saying, nope, she’s just stupid?

I’ll be honest here. I think Evil Powers are intent on making us dumber. They tell us that thinking too hard about anything makes you a useless pointy head, that it’s all very simple really, JUST READ THE HEADLINES, that the latest reality TV cooking show is inherently more interesting than the world beyond our borders, that it’s more important to believe than to analyse. End result – we’ve got dumber. Which is just where Fox News wants us. So call me a smug latte-drinking greenie if you like, but I reckon lots of us are just…not that bright. Do you think that’s true…and if it is true, is it a teensy-weensy bit of a problem? Or am I over-thinking this?

Oh and by the way – nothing to do with any of the above – here’s a story about hope (but not, precisely, for us).

Featured image by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

 

17 Comments

  1. Funny, I was in tears last night over the “convenience” of technology. I have 2 jobs and was about to begin my second one when my Mac decided to restart. Then OS had an update… 1.5 hours later it was ready to work. I wish I hadn’t forgotten how long the damn things take. I was so frustrated and there was no one to vent to!

    1. Oh god yes. And yet, weirdly, it’s this amazing machine we never could have dreamt of back in the 1900s, does all these amazing things, and yet, we hate when it’s slow. I so hate Microsoft updates. At my place, I have limited (rural) data, so every time MS insists on updating, it uses up my allowance!

    1. You think? Overthinking our own importance as individuals, or as a species? What do you have in mind when you say ‘not taking care of the part they’re responsible for’? Do you mean that people avoid responsibility? Or that they have a sort of learned helplessness?

      1. There is a connection between the rise in TV watching, the decline of reading and people stopping to think and act for themselves. Real social interaction is replaced by social media who turned by itself into some prolongation of the rat race. People get disconnected from the reality. Then you get slogan’s like; illegal immigrants out (but keep your hands off my own cleaning lady), Less CO2 emission (but I really NEED those three SUV’s under my carport), I will do ANYTHING to get my face on TV and have my five minutes of fame (and be ridiculed for it for years), reduce government debt without touching at my benefits, water is scarce but I won’t go into the cost of building a rainwater collector (it’s the task of government to provide drinkable water), …

      2. Interesting..are there stats to support that? As a reader and non TV watcher I’m inclined to agree. We are mostly very disconnected. I do think that in Australia we’re about to get quite rudely reconnected, though. Running out of water, bushfires, land degradation, dry rivers, food getting more expensive, energy costs going up, etc. At some point for us in the West, reality will bite, hard.

  2. Completely agree that the loss of socialization and the loss of freedom and the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from and overcome those mistakes is creating huge damage in the younger generations. Plenty are doing fine, but there is a thing we are doing with our children these days that isn’t healthy. We protect them too much and don’t give them the freedom to fall and pick themselves up. So, when we finally push them out the nest, and they have to fly, they don’t know how to. They don’t know how to deal with the pitfalls that are inevitable in life. Hence … depression and anxiety.

    1. Yeah, I think we do overprotect our kids, and we overprotect ourselves. I remember a friend of mine saying she wouldn’t catch the bus because there’d be random members of the public who might sit next to her on it! But my dad caught a crowded train every day and it never worried him. We’ve got very exclusive, with our fences and our huge houses and televisions and social media and stuff – a bit precious.

  3. There’s a big change in public concern on climate change, ecological damage, etc., which has been bubbling up for decades but suddenly reached the mainstream consciousness. It’s good that more people are taking it seriously, but it’s also depressing, and some media outlets are massively overplaying the whole thing with extreme, irrational, scare stories about how we’re all going to die on a boiling planet, when that’s not what the science says at all. Robert Walker’s an interesting read – he’s a fact-checker and science blogger who helps people who have been traumatized by the Extinction Rebellion overkill nonsense. https://www.science20.com/robert_walker

    And yeah, I think people are also more politically aware, and know that the world is in the grip of rich elites. The Internet is causing mass education, which is always challenging.

    But with all such questions, it’s worth stepping back and asking the meta-question. How do we know that people are more depressed and anxious? Did you have a source in mind? We must also remember that stats on things like this can go up simply because of changes in reporting – people might be more willing to say they suffer, or to characterize what they experience as “depression”, when 30 years ago someone might have ignored it as “a bit of a gloomy day”.

    I do think dogs should be kept on a lead, or better still, not kept. I don’t think anti-social behaviour in dogs is due to them not being free to roam about, but about their training or lack thereof. (I wonder if when they were free to roam about, the nasty ones just got shot or poisoned or something?) But I just don’t get the obsession with dogs. Bloody things are everywhere, like it’s normal to own an example of another species to elicit emotional attachment and waste resources on, trot it down the road twice a day. Pets generally. More of that stupidity, methinks (and speaking as someone who was persuaded to get a kitten for our 8 year-old boy, and now watching it hobble about (the cat, not the boy), shitting on the kitchen floor and staring into space nearly 20 years later, and trying to work out what’s the ethical moment to have it put to sleep, but still buying plastic sachets of goddamn meat for it, and litter in the vain hope it’ll use the tray for once). 🙂

    Christians…I give up.

    1. Well, there are a lot of stats to support the idea that we’re getting more worried.. I can’t link them right now as I’m on my mobile having – again – had to evacuate. But anecdotally, my daughter’s also noticed a lot of her friends are chronically anxious. It just wasn’t a thing back when I was at school… kids having panic attacks in malls, for instance. I do think we used to be more stoic and possibly resilient.
      Re dogs, I’m a dog fan. Thing is, they bring joy and unconditional love. I liked when you could walk around and just meet dogs out for a stroll. I think we’re sissies nowadays. Ha! In my day we wrestled rottweilers with one hand tied behind our backs 🙂 as for cats, they’re destructive of wildlife to say the least, but very comforting creatures. I think having a close relationship with other species is a good thing overall, since ours tends to suffer from delusions of grandeur. That said, my cat shat outside🙂

    1. Is that the guy with the beard who’s into board games and space exploration?
      Re extinction rebellion, my instinctive feeling about it is that lying about in front of traffic isn’t going to achieve much. I also think, well, maybe extinction is for the best. Our species is fairly horrible, en masses (with the possible exception of my kids). But I do believe that things are much more serious than we like to think. Topsoil. Disappearing. Bees. Disappearing. Salt. Rising. Atmosphere. Warming. Rivers. Drying up. If we as a species think all of this is going to end well, we deserve extinction.

      1. “Is that the guy with the beard who’s into board games and space exploration?”
        – That sounds like him. I didn’t know about the board games, but he writes programs and he’s into space exploration. I was pretty sceptical about him at first, but he seems to be very good, really digs into the science. Humans going extinct seems pretty unlikely given our adaptability and technological capability.

        Yeah, our cat *used* to shit outside rather than on the kitchen floor. I suppose the elderly accrue certain privileges. 😀

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