Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What have we become?

I'm glad I was born when I was born. I was a child and then a teen during the most exciting times of 20th century, when there was an incredible spurt of free thinking in art and culture. It was a time when creativity exploded in every area, when politicians dared to lead us forward into outer and inner space, and when giant steps were made towards equality for people who were not white and male. It was a time of hope and promise, when everyone was made to feel they mattered, even if they didn't agree.

Not so much anymore.

Now it seems that we have stagnated in our great strides forward. There are fewer free thinkers. It has become more important to be politically and socially correct, to agree rather than to question. To conform rather than follow one's own path. 

Our most popular forms of entertainment -- movies, TV, music AND social media -- present themselves as pushing the envelope but they do so by titillation rather than by pounding the limitations of social pressure. Even our "alternative lifestyles" have become institutionalized. What does it really mean to dare to be different when you can only do it if thousands of others are there to support you?

Sadly, social media has become the biggest oppressor of all. The biggest force to conform.  Just express an opinion. Go ahead.  Say something that really is true to your heart -- about yourself, not about how others should live. Because it's easy to talk about others. Not so easy to expose your own soul.

Express an opinion about how you feel about living your life? Rude response follows. People don't respond to concepts but rather denigrate the person who has expressed the idea. People gang up. They oppress with memes that sound good but really don't substitute for personal communication.

What if I wanted to take drugs? Sorry. That is so bad for your health.
What if I wanted to drop out? Sorry. That is not mentally healthy.
What if I wanted to be a person who explored other lifestyles, to live the way YOU don't? Sorry. That is fringe stuff and only acceptable if you buy your clothes at the proper shops and wear/drive/support the approved brand names.

I know people think they're being socially responsible, but at what cost? Humanity is dying from correctness!  

Yes, I'm glad I was born when I was, but it's not so much fun these days, knowing what I had then and don't have today. Yeah, it was risky and it was dangerous back then, doing those things, but so what? I'm glad I got to experiment with things that everyone everywhere today knows are "bad" now. I lived life to the fullest then. I explored in ways that didn't bother anyone else, in ways that only affected me. I lived. I lived. I lived.

How did we come around full circle to where just to be truly different makes us huddle in our own spaces, worried that the lynch mob will show up in our email, on our homepage, at our gate, just because we still want to be real people, true to our own souls? Because we want to be who we are, not what somebody else says we should be?

Back in the day it was easy, I admit, to be your own person. That's because everyone was busy doing the same thing, living their own lives. Nobody was judging anybody else. Who had time for that? We had monumental goals to achieve, inner and outer space to conquer -- as a people and as individuals.

Oh, I know that it took a lot of work to get us to the point where we could experience that brief blossoming of freedom. Many didn't survive it, but they left us a legacy that we used to keep growing.

Until we stopped.

To live is to grow. To grow necessarily means to change. As long as people fight change, there can be no true growth. Without growth there is rot.


Will what we have today become fertilizer for the next growth spurt, or will it kill us all?


  1. Hi Lif:

    I was born in 1948, agree with what you have said and have lived through some pretty exciting times (good and bad) also that I am grateful for. And being a woman I am also extremely fortunate I was born mid 20th century instead of in ANY OTHER century past or future. It seems that during small portion of history that humans have been on earth, we as a species have gotten better at denying that we are afterall, just animals ourselves. We have somehow elevated the image of ourselves as superior to all others who share the earth with us. I think we are not really " The United" States of America. Regions of this country are so diverse culturally we are more like separate countries. Time will tell in the future what we become, it waits for no one.

    1. I think people have, as you say, elevated the image of humanity's worth on this planet... except that not *all* people get to be as elevated as others. But besides that, the torture is having lived during a brief period of time when our world seemed brighter and freer and full of hope, and having known that, how dull and ugly and even scary it can appear in comparison. Just reading Facebook can be depressing these days, especially when there are many people who seem so wonderful but who turn out to be haters - and, worse, don't even think they are.

  2. Interesting article. Longing for the way things were is within each of us to some limited degree. Still I think we are all individuals finding our own positive experiences in the many aspects of life. I believe few people are true haters, as it takes too much energy to live that way and when it usually takes a few words of wisdom from others a bit more positive to snap them out of that herd mentality and/or behavior. Thank you Lif for your thought provoking article.

    1. Thanks, Troy. I have met some folks who really are haters through and through, but it's true most folks are some mix. There are few real saints in this world.

      But it isn't the overt haters that are so bad, it seems to me. It's the passive-aggressive ones, the judgers. They weigh behavior in the name of "the good", but in the process they squelch freedom.

  3. Lif, beautifully stated. Here in uber-liberal San Francisco, if you are not part of the herd mentality, then you are ostracized and your opinions are deemed worthless. You are labeled with "isms" and "ists". I refuse to goose step to their beat. I hope the rest of the world is not like this.


    1. I've often reflected on the irony of San Francisco and Berkeley, two of the birthplaces of free thinking and the drug culture of the 60s amd 70s, now as repressive as the government and society that they used to rebel against.

  4. Succinctly stated.