Modern society has given us so many benefits, but as with anything, you have to take the good with the bad. Levels of depression and other mental health issues has jumped over the past century, accelerating towards a singularity rivaling even that of the technological revolution and our coming robot masters.
Okay. Maybe that’s hyperbole. And modern society is actually really good in so many ways. One of these ways is, believe it or not, social media.
I’ve been meeting some interesting people on Gab. It’s a very active and engaged group, and while more politically oriented than Twitter, if you can believe that, discussions run the entire gamut of human thought.
One recent discussion involved the nature of nihilism and despair.
It’s true that some people might honestly reach the conclusion that there’s no God, or meaning to life, or hope for humanity, and so on. It’s a free country and we all have free will. Who am I to force people to agree with me?
And anyway, these aren’t exactly the kind of thoughts and feelings one can persuade another to change. That has to come from within.
But it does make me sad that people think this way. And yet, most people who claim to be nihilists and embrace the despair don’t seem to really live like it.
How can I say this? Simple: Because they all haven’t killed themselves yet.
Whoa. This got dark fast. But hear me out.
First, let’s look at the dictionary definition of “despair”: to no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change.
To no longer have any hope or belief . . .
I can see how people could reach this conclusion. We see the world in real-time now, all of it. And at a national level, election season always brings out the worst in many of us.
But I’m still not convinced that most people who claim to despair have no hope.
If everything sucks, there’s no point, and you the life, then you might as well find yourself the nearest bottle of poison and take a sip. Or engage in another self-destructive behavior like drugs or reading Tumblr blogs until your body and mind can’t take it any more.
And yet, what we see often, is that self-proclaimed nihilists still live…still create…still do.
They still exist. Maybe they’re doing it out of spite, who knows?
I’m not necessarily taking about atheists here–many don’t despair. And religious people of all faiths can feel despair and nihilism (“Heaven is paradise because I get to be with God, and I hate my life now and am just wasting time, so maybe I’ll just try to catch this here bullet with my teeth…”)
Those who despair still make art, music, poetry…they write books, make movies, build things, go to work, some may have families, love other people, give their time and money to charity.
Even more than this, they’re still alive.
I could be wrong, but it’s almost as if there’s still a glimmer of hope, a possibility that transcendence isn’t just real, but is a possibility for them.
Or they’re just doing it all out of spite. Who knows?
Regardless, to everybody who’s hurting, even if you say you’re not: May you find some enjoyment in your life. I have been there, and I still hurt sometimes. We all do. But life isn’t all-bad, the same way it isn’t all-good. It just is. Just like you.
And I’m glad that you’re still here.
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