Are we getting meaner or is everyone just going insane?
Elon Musk, Will Smith, Mike Tyson, Johnny Depp, the Met Gala, Roe v Wade... and truly unruly airline passengers, what’s happening to us..
You thought the capital riots were bad?
In the last 2 years, there's been a drastic increase in reported hate crimes, car accidents, public disturbances and domestic violence call outs. All over the globe. The statistics reported from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires to New York City, to Berlin are simply shocking. From 2019-2021, the number of gun related deaths in the US rose by nearly 50%, every day there are new staggering reports and videos of people acting up in restaurants, airplanes, libraries and more. Then there is the celebrity angle. Will Smith walks on stage in front of an audience of 20 million people worldwide and slaps comedian Chris Rock, for an innocuous joke about his wife, to top this weird string of events off, he then receives the oscar for best male performance and delivers an acceptance speech dripping with false honesty and narcissism.
Then Mike Tyson knocks out a fellow airline passenger who was annoying him and Elon Musk buys Twitter for an inordinate amount of money, $44 billion to be exact. Why that number matters is that a recent estimate put the monetary value of ending global hunger at $45 billion per year for the next 10 years. That’s right, with his vanity project of buying this social media platform, Musk could’ve put a 10% dent in the global food shortage and at least, gotten the ball rolling (something the US government is struggling with at the moment, raising funds.) No instead of doing this, Elon throws out this money and then tweets to congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “Stop flirting with me” after she wrote a veiled tweet accusing Mark Zuckerberg of being politically manipulated into altering the communication potentials on his platform.
None of this matters. As we are being collectively bombarded by court drama news reports about Captain Jack Sparrow and his relationship problems, like a Dr Phil inspired OJ Simpson car chase, the celebrities of New York City and beyond get into their ridiculous gowns and parade up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a homage to what exactly? Fashion?
Perhaps rather fittingly, Mark Twain wrote in his book The Gilded Age:
"...no country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more."
As Kim Kardashian garishly trounced up the steps of the Met, in the $5 million dollar dress that JFK had once gifted the genius that was Marilyn Monroe those many years ago, a leaked memo from the Supreme Court suggested that the members were about to overturn the 50 year old Roe v Wade ruling that allowed legal access to abortion all across the United States. That’s right, whilst the who’s who of Hollywood glitterati pronounced in front of the limelight, the country was sent back to the stone ages. The one people who could actually influence the politics of the country, were getting drunk on expensive champagne whilst eating truffles by the boatload. Debauchery you say? End of civilisation I say. But let’s let one of the greatest writers of our age tell us her opinion about the ramifications of this potential repeal, Margaret Atwood, sagacious author of The Handmaid’s Tale among many great books:
“Sometimes people have to live their dream. So if living their dream means a lot of dead women and orphans, maybe they're going to have to live that dream and maybe they're just then going to have to figure out, 'Who's going to pay for this?'" "Who's going to pay for the orphans and the dead women, because that's what you're going to have. And I'm waiting for the first lawsuit. I'm waiting, you know, in which the family of the dead woman sues the ... state and I'm also waiting for a lawsuit that says if you force me to have children I cannot afford, you should pay for the process."
Margaret goes on:
“They should pay for my prenatal care. They should pay for my, otherwise, very expensive delivery, you should pay for my health insurance, you should pay for the upkeep of this child after it is born, that's where the concern seems to cut off with these people. Once you take your first breath, it's out the window with you. And, it is really a form of slavery to force women to have children that they cannot afford and then to say that they have to raise them."
Woah, and it gets even more powerful:
If that's not going to be the story, you're going to end up with Romania under Ceausescu in which the orphanages fill up," warned Atwood. "For those who don't remember it, he mandated four children per woman and you had to have a pregnancy test every month. And if you did not get pregnant you had to state why — you know, why you had not gotten pregnant. It was nuts. And it did result in a number of suicides and the number of kids being put into orphanages with no proper care at all. I mean, it was just horrible."
And for the knock out punch:
"So, if that's what you want, live your dream. Then we can all watch and see what that looks like, and whether you're actually going to go as far as to force this upon women and families and not pay for any of it. If you're drafted into the army, the other situation in which the state seizes control of your body, at least you get three meals a day, clothing, and a place to sleep. So, if you're going to do that to women, pay up."
Succinctly put and powerfully evocative. Does it actually mention abortion anywhere in the bible? No. Yet all of these Jesus freaks are using their religious belief in the sanctity of a baby’s life, to influence their opinions on this topic which frankly has nothing to do with them. Yes, the repeal of Roe v Wade would not end abortion rights everywhere in the US, as each state gets to vote independently, but thorough estimates have shown that 25 of the 50 states would be very likely to definitively banning abortion.
What the hell is going on?
In 1893, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote a book called The Division of Labour in Society in which he introduced a term called “anomie”. Anomie refers to a condition where usual social, moral and guiding standards of a given society break down and get uprooted. This happens usually due to a conflict of belief systems on a large scale (think about the global vaccine vs antivax debate that has empowered - and alienated - many) and the breakdown of social bonds between the individual and community (ongoing pandemic lockdowns.)
Durkheim personally referred to this condition as a type of derangement and mentioned that anomie could lead to the breakdown of norms in society and as such, society itself. In his book he also mentioned that anomie occurred more frequently in Protestants than Catholics and if we look at the religious split in the USA, this could ring true.
Now it seems reasonable to lay the blame for all of this social unrest and untethering of social norms (ouch! Chris Rock, tsk tsk Depp, bang bang Mike Tyson) squarely on our last 2 years of being locked up inside with raging uncertainty and anxiety about the future of our health and life. This does make total sense. Us being locked inside due to the pandemic not being able to socialise like we normally and that does make sense but that's not all of it. Not even close. Most of the social unrest in our time can be put squarely down to celebrity culture and social inequity.
The “Spilled it” Age
With inflation, homelessness and interest rates soaring, with people barely being able to get by on the groceries they purchase every week, it was especially depressing, seeing all of these glamorous members of our 21st century Gilded Age, lacking the awareness nor intellect to see the darkness and jealousy they were sparking in the masses. Same with Elon buying Twitter, him touting around a dollar value that is greater than the GDP of most developing countries, one that could begin ending world hunger, is evident, not of his selfishness, but of his complete detachment from reality.
It doesn't take a lot of observational skill to realise that ever since around 2016, the world seemingly went off the deep end and started this journey to crazy town. So what was it that happened to civility, courage and decency in 2016?
What would have happened to this planet had Jeremy Corbyn beaten David Cameron and on the other side of the Atlantic, Bernie Sanders would have become president of the USA? My father always told me that it doesn’t matter who is in power, the same things will happen. I used to always disagree with him on this and to a certain extent I still do, forever the eternal optimist - would Brexit have happened? Would the Ukrainian invasion have happened. It’s fun to speculate but largely useless in the grand scheme.
Corbyn and Sanders were anti-establishment candidates, much like Trump had lauded himself initially. They were two personalities whom everyone liked, even the wealthy and the powerful. They didn’t dislike the two of them, in fact, given the choice, most billionaires would most probably choose to go on holiday with Corbyn and Sanders over Trump and Cameron. I remember sitting in a pub in Maida Vale London many years ago and talking to a well dressed man and his wife at the bar. He said the social stratas are very real and that the two people who were most likely to strike up a friendship were the ultra rich and the ultra poor. Because neither wanted anything from the other, people who were climbing the social ladder were repugnant to the wealthy, resembling scurrying rats in a sinking ship - yet the ultra poor? Real people. Reminds me of this great riddle:
“Rich people need it, poor people have it, and when you eat it you die.”
Have you got the answer? Right, nothing.
So why didn’t Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders get elected and with their promises of ending poverty and inequality, turned this ship around? In short, even though the establishment and the power brokers liked them, they were afraid of them. Not as personalities, as they both are pretty decent human beings, but they were afraid of the accountability that they had to the masses. And they couldn’t risk this huge swing in power from the very few to the many. That accountability would have meant the end of the status quo in the whole world.
EVERYONE is unhappy and dissatisfied with the world
Regardless of how their Instagram profile would have you believe. Let’s face it, everyone wants the world to change. No one is happy with the way the world is right now, even the richest billionaires on Earth aren't satisfied - and what does that tell you?
Take Mark Zuckerberg as an example, he is throwing all of his weight behind a sci fi project that may or may not work out (be popular.) A virtual reality world where people exist as avatars in some kind of binary matrix controlled by him and his ilk. It seems this move goes counter to what our species is meant to evolve into. It seems an attempt at blinkering the whole population to the real problems of this world. Namely climate change and extreme wealth inequality.
Mark has called this project “meta.” Do you know what meta means in Hebrew?
Right, “dead”. Pretty accurate huh? Recently I saw a New Scientist report on muscle stimulating electrodes that could make a person move according to the electrical impulses of an outside source. Hello??!! Can anyone spot the sinister implications for this meta (dead) verse? Like zombies hooked up to electrodes getting us to do the bidding for his entertainment.
There is hope
It won’t work. Humanity is stronger than that, for every pendulum swing that happens into darkness, one equally happens toward the light. To use cliche metaphors.
Don’t forget that the greatest trick people in power ever pulled was convincing the masses that we can’t change the status quo of this planet.
This is total bullshit. Change is coming, it is an inevitable evolutionary fact that our neurocircuitry will put up a fight to any of this virtual reality nonsense as it goes against our guiding biological interests. It’s either that or we are declared meta.
Next week I will delve into how this change will manifest.
Thank you for your time in reading this opinion piece, please share it far and wide - we'll let one of the greatest women to ever walk the face of the Earth take us out:
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