What is poppin’ my bois? (Using, of course, the gender-neutral b-o-i spelling). I’m currently sitting in DIA, which, as I have been recently informed, is a haven of conspiracy and dark secrets. As I’m sure many of you cultured readers are aware, there’s a statue of an angry looking blue horse outside the airport that has actually killed someone. Spooky stuff, my friends.
Now then, allow me to jump right in. I was watching YouTube the other day when an ad came up featuring a musical artist who was talking about her work. She presumably has some level of fame, but I had certainly never heard of her before. The last thing she said before I swiftly and mercilessly skipped the ad is that her work is incredibly important to her because it gives her a platform to talk about her anxiety and depression. To be perfectly frank, blessed reader, when I heard that, I didn’t find myself to be sympathetic towards this artist. I was honestly super bored with everything she was saying.
A case can always be made that I’m just an emotionless unsympathetic wench. Perhaps I am. I think the better case to be made is that I’m a machine who’s more interested in code than some people’s lives. I think I could probably build a strong case against that, but that’s for another time.
Regardless of my potential sociopathisms, I found it quite interesting that my first response to this artist’s video was boredom. I’m of the opinion that mental health issues/depression/anxiety are incredibly important issues plaguing our society, and I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m trying to minimize their importance. For those of you thorough readers who have read the “About” page, you will know that I myself am prone to depressive thought patterns if I am not careful. So then, why was I bored by the artist?
To answer this question, I retreated deep within myself to have a quick conversation with my emotions. These conversations tend to be quite violent, overly anthropomorphized, and altogether unstructured, so I will leave out the details of this particular interaction. The general consensus among my emotions, however, was that I found the artist to be boring because it seems like every artist and their mother are all talking/singing/writing/dreaming about anxiety and depression. It just so happens that one of my favorite albums is about depression. Incidentally, that is also my favorite album within which to engulf myself when I (even I, rumored to be sociopathic, asexual, machine-like) am depressed.
Upon having this (incredibly straightforward) revelation, I began thinking in my brainicles about why it seems depression and anxiety are all the rage in pop culture. After doing some light thinking on the subject, I have formulated a hypothesis. For those of you nerdy or aggressively legalistic readers, no, I haven’t formalized any of these claims, and as previously stated, this is only a hypothesis. If you disagree with me or have a different opinion, please feel free to drop a hot comment down below. You are then urged to ring the bell, like this video, and subscribe to my channel.
My hypothesis is built upon four of my personal observations. My first observation is that the average human is hardwired to seek out and be fulfilled by interaction with other humans. As a sub-observation, I have found that I’m prone to my greatest fits of anxiety and depression when I am isolated (either by accident, or by my own doing) from other people. My second observation is that human interaction is difficult. Not only does it take planning and time, but I personally tend to feel some level of discomfort during most of my conversations. My third observation is that literally everyone around me is constantly on their phone. I realize this implies that I live in an area where everyone has the economic means to possess a smartphone, but regardless of wealth, I have found any exceptions to this to be the statistical outlier. My fourth observation is that social media is a frackin’ drug. Throughout my life, I have rarely posted on social media, but whenever I have, I get an unreasonable amount of satisfaction and pleasure when people like something I’ve posted. And if someone comments on one of my posts? Goodness me, the feeling is ecstasy! During my time on social media, I have found that I am frequently overtaken by the desire to open my insta, regardless of whether I would visually intake some dank, dank memes or photoshopped pictures of attractive human beings or videos of Fabio Wibmer being the most epic human to walk the Earth.
Now then, I will take these observations as temporary axioms, and I’m going to paint you the word picture that is my hypothesis. Basically, before phones, people felt the compulsion to interact with each other, and so they would overcome the discomfort associated with human interaction, and just talked to each other. Once my boi Zuckerberg came around, people suddenly realized, “OMG I can, like, talk to all my friends and post about my life on the internet! Now I don’t need to constantly be with people to interact with them! Yaaaaas!” This seemingly innocent desire almost immediately gave way to a deeper subconscious realization: “Wait hold on. Now I can spend time making everything I put on the internet perfect. Also, I can say whatever I want because the people I’m interacting with can’t actually hurt me, right?” And so, through digital media, humanity found a way to temporarily fill its desire for human interaction, and my oh my did it feel good. What an amazing feeling it is to know both the people you know and don’t know like something you’ve created. Amazing how that can quench your fundamental anxieties and give you a feeling of superhuman pleasure. And better yet, you can achieve this without putting a toxic chemical into your body! What a wonderful creation.
And so the world fell prey to this digital drug. This wouldn’t really have been a problem if social media was a perfect substitution for regular human interaction. Unfortunately, it isn’t. I can’t give you a definite reason why it isn’t, but I doubt many of you would disagree. And so, the fundamental issue with social media is the following: it gives the temporary impression of filling our fundamental desire for human interaction, but it doesn’t actually. What is it called when you want human interaction, and you don’t have it? Loneliness. So basically, social media creates a population of people who think they aren’t lonely but actually, fundamentally are.
This really isn’t groundbreaking stuff. I’m simply attempting to formalize the loose thoughts cascading around my psyche. Now then, what are the fruits of loneliness? You guessed it! Depression and anxiety. Given that the average modern artist relies on social media to market themselves, it really is no wonder they all are writing about how depressed they are. However, there is even a better explanation for this phenomenon. Talking about depression and anxiety is a remarkably effective way to garner sympathy from the masses. Anyone who doesn’t take mental health seriously and makes their views public is at high risk of large-scale public shunning, so there are incentives for even the people who don’t give a snort about mental health to pretend like they do. And what does sympathy do? It promotes the sharing of deep emotions which furthermore promotes more natural human interaction.
So then, this hypothesis is centered around the notion that your average population of humans are desperately striving for meaningful interaction, but through a twisted play on the human being’s natural fears and desires, people have been diverted from natural interaction by social media.
It appears as though I’m about to hit 5 pages (I’m of course typing in Word, with standard margins and font), so I feel as though I ought to wrap this pupper up. One last tidbit, if you will. At the end of the day, social media really ought to be thought of as the tool. I, for instance, am shamelessly using it to try to increase the number of people exposed to my incalculably vast stores of wisdom that have come through my many long decades of life. However, best to not let the hammer be the one calling the shots, don’t ya think?