This is a very apocalyptic culture. When you are always in it, you don’t notice but it’s the most striking of its features. I still feel startled by this every day. We experienced some really major collapses back in the late 1980s and 1990s. Do you know what it’s like when everybody loses all of their savings, at once, overnight? This happened to us. And people did go nuts over it, understandably. But nobody went as nuts as Americans go every day over completely imaginary crises. I’ve lived in Canada, and there’s nothing remotely like this. It’s unique.
This isn’t a uniformly negative thing. A youthful freshness of perspective is not bad at all. Problems only begin when society becomes very atomized. The constant apocalyptic blaring creates an unbearable affect for some folks. That unbearable affect is easily contained if you are surrounded by people who anchor you in reality: a close family, a group of close friends, a real (not online) community of some sort.
When the idea that the world is ending implants in the mind of a very lonely person, that person starts expecting death. It’s impossible to live, constantly fearing that the end is coming at any, completely unpredictable time. It’s not shocking that at least a few such people will engineer a situation of controlling both death and a group of people.
This kind of apocalyptic mentality can only avoid creating all sorts of insanely sick scenarios if it exists in a society that is very good at building cohesion. Neurosis is defined as “living in the expectation of something bad that’s about to happen.” We need to stop being so in love with this neurosis.
Look at this morning’s post. We are freaking out the kids with our incessant screeching about existential crises and imminent collapses. It’s easy to blame some dumb buggers from a hundred years ago but they didn’t cause this. We are.