by John Hawkins | October 18, 2019 6:05 pm
“Because, for all the good news being published today, here are some other surprising statistics: in the United States, symptoms of depression and anxiety are on an eighty-year upswing among young people and a twenty-year upswing among the adult population. Not only are people experiencing depression in greater numbers, but they’re experiencing it at earlier ages, with each generation. Since 1985, men and women have reported lower levels of life satisfaction. Part of that is probably because stress levels have risen over the past thirty years. Drug overdoses have recently hit an all-time high as the opioid crisis has wrecked much of the United States and Canada. Across the U.S. population, feelings of loneliness and social isolation are up. Nearly half of all Americans now report feeling isolated, left out, or alone in their lives. Social trust is also not only down across the developed world but plummeting, meaning fewer people than ever trust their government, the media, or one another. In the 1980s, when researchers asked survey participants how many people they had discussed important personal matters with over the previous six months, the most common answer was ‘three.’ By 2006, the most common answer was ‘zero.’” — Mark Manson.
In modern America, political discourse now borders on open hatred, mass shootings are on the rise and shockingly our life expectancy is dropping mainly because of drug use and suicide. There are many reasons for these issues, but the biggest one is the toxic culture we’re now all marinating in 24-7. There are a lot of converging, often intertwined, factors that are contributing to this. Starting with…
1) The Decline of Christianity: In the fifties, more than 95% of Americans identified as Christian, while today, only 70% do. Of course, that 70% is an extremely deceptive number because many of those people very seldom show up on Sunday, don’t live their lives according to Christian principles or even stick up for the church in any meaningful way. As the Christian church has lost influence over the culture, what we’ve seen is a widespread embrace of immorality. In fact, calling someone or something immoral or sinful today is usually treated as faintly ridiculous. Not only has this created an enormous decline in morals, but it has also led to people treating manmade causes like fight global warming as a religion substitute designed to give meaning to their increasingly empty lives. Far too many people have turned their backs on decency and morality and we now live in a “hedonistic, anything goes, it’s fine for everyone to write their own rules” culture that makes it much more difficult to respect, trust and have confidence in each other.
2) Social Media: Social media encourages us to follow like-minded people and that often leads to us tuning out those that disagree with us unless they are being insulted as part of an effort to gain new likes and followers, It also amplifies the most divisive voices, revolves around outrage and controversy and encourages people to go along with the crowd instead of doing what’s right. It also creates “pseudo-friendships” that help convince people that they don’t need to make meaningful connections in the real world because they have “followers,” most of which probably wouldn’t notice if they were hit by a bus next week. Now combine that with algorithms that allow handfuls of programmers to directly influence, often in a negative way, what hundreds of millions of Americans see each day and social media has been a disaster for the country.
3) Lack of Gatekeepers: The death of media gatekeepers was a mostly positive thing, but it did lead to at least one extremely negative consequence. In a world where there were a tiny number of television stations and newspapers controlling the information everyone read, there was tremendous pressure on these organizations to have a broad appeal. So, they made a real effort to at least appear fair, get stories right and of course, they largely avoided conspiracy theories that could undermine their reputations. Today, when there are an almost unlimited number of news sources trying to appeal to niche audiences, it’s no longer about broad appeal, there isn’t much of an effort to be or appear fair and conspiracy theories can be a potent source of traffic. This has led to the point where it’s hard for most of us to even agree on the facts, much less debate what we’re going to do about them.
You can read the rest at BizPac Review.
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