My 14-year-old daughter has been inspired by Thunberg to strike today, skipping classes to head to protests in downtown Washington, D.C. She has also suffered bouts of anxiety, and I long to build a seawall that can protect her from her fears. But her example, and Thunberg’s doomsaying, have made me realize that my parental desire to calm is the stuff of childish fantasy; anxiety is the mature response. To protect our children, we need to embrace their despair.
The reason why wealthy people encourage their kids to fake despair is the same that drives them to put their children into Ivy-oriented preschools and start building their CVs at age 5. It’s a mark of belonging to the upper classes. You need to do chic things that are unaccessible to the proles, and this is one of them.
The anxiety on display here is real. It’s the anxiety about potentially being kicked out of the privileged class.