I want to start by saying that I wasn’t raised religious. This is important for me to point out because a lot of people feel that only people who were brainwashed from childhood could possibly be religious, and that’s just not true. Religion is for those who are looking for meaning in life. There are as many religions in this world as there are people because everyone interprets their religion in a personalized way.
Human’s need something to believe in. They need to feel like life is worth something. Not every religion is a good or positive religion, but they all at least give people hope for a future. People need hope. They need something to hold on to. People work all week for the weekends. They struggle all year for their vacation. They Scrimp and save for a house or car or something bigger and better that makes their life feel more complete.
People also need to feel like when they lose someone that they are not gone forever. That a part of that person lives on in some way. I was not raised religious, but after my father passed away, I couldn’t imagine an existence without him. He HAS to be watching over us. My son’s father used to think I was crazy. He’d try to explain all the ways in which it wasn’t possible. I told him none of that mattered. That no one could possibly KNOW what happens after we die so we can believe whatever we want. Whatever makes us feel better.
He couldn’t handle that explanation. He was a nihilist in its truest form. He couldn’t fathom a reason for any of it. He was scared out of his mind about dying. He would go into full-fledged panic attacks over the thought of it. He knew it would happen at some point, but he just couldn’t wrap his mind around not existing. He couldn’t see any other option, but he couldn’t handle the thought of just being gone. He didn’t understand why we bothered to live. Why we bothered to suffer. Why we bothered to work hard or fall in love or have a family if it just meant that we died in the end, and it was over.
This wasn’t anything new in his life. He had these feelings and concerns since he was a teenager. He couldn’t believe in anything that he didn’t have proof of. He felt empty all the time and turned to drugs. He ended up institutionalized multiple times before he turned 18. By the time I met him he had been diagnosed with bipolar, borderline personality, and generalized anxiety. He was in recovery for his addiction, but still heavily medicated for his other disorders.
He was a great guy, and we did fall in love. We did create a family. He loved our son more than he thought possible, but that caused him even more pain. He couldn’t understand what the point of all of it was. He couldn’t see why we should all put our energy into accomplishing things in life just to die. His goal was to actually become a robot. I used to laugh at that. I used to tease him saying, “like a cyberman from Doctor Who? You know those are the bad guys, right?”.
He didn’t see any other way. He couldn’t handle emotions. He couldn’t handle the fear, the unknown, emptiness that he saw in his future. The irony of his disease, his nihilism, his despair for the future is that it made him suicidal. He had tried twice before I met him, and I couldn’t understand when he told me how anyone so afraid of dying could want to die. He told me that it was the constant fear of the unknown. The constant exhaustion he felt over the anxiety of not feeling anything. The drugs didn’t work, the therapy didn’t work, nothing worked because he had nothing to believe in.
Every generation seems to be becoming more and more like this. They seem to not understand what life is about. They don’t want to work for things. They don’t want to get married. They don’t want to have a family. They just want to live a life of nothingness, of physical and momentary pleasures. Life is about the “Now” there was a whole book series about this, but I don’t think that any of them actually read or understood the concept of that book. The new generation has decided that religion, and family, and responsibility are somehow bad and that primal pleasures are the only things worth living for.
Yet every generation becomes more and more depressed. More and more dependent on drugs and alcohol. More and more suicidal. All anyone ever does anymore is complain about how miserable they are. How lonely they are. How broken they are. But when you suggest that maybe that is because they have nothing to believe in or goals to accomplish, or real relationships to depend on they just respond with something about the patriarchy and “ok Boomer”.
My generation was the first generation with a major war or a draft. My generation was the first to have vaccinations for the really harmful diseases. My generation went through life arguing about whether or not Die Hard was a Christmas Movie. We were the first generation that were just expected to go to college, and we did it without much help from computers and no one had cell phones or social media as kids. We were the last generation to be raised to think about the future.
The Millennials came up right behind me and suddenly everything they ever did was out on the internet for the world to see. Suddenly everyone was comparing their lives to everyone else’s, and no one was happy. No one saw value in anything. They just saw envy and greed and became a generation that focused on what they could get for as little work as possible.
I was the tail end of the Gen Xers and the beginning of the online dating scene. It used to be you had to meet someone in person. You had to talk to them. Get to know them. Get them to like you before you saw them naked. It took work and made the end result worth it. Now you just swipe, and you have a line up for the week. No work involved and no feelings of accomplishment either. Relationships are work. Saving is work. Work is work. No one wants to do that anymore. Because no one thinks that anything that happens actually matters.
I know that they’ll say, “oh I have to work 3 jobs just to afford rent”. Sure, and when people point out that you buy a new $1000 phone or a new $1500 game system every year you just scoff that you deserve it. Yes, things are more expensive. Things are always more expensive every year. But if you got married and had a joint income that would give you more collective money… but no one wants to do that.
Everyone wants to take a pill, hook up, and sit in front of a screen and pretend their life away. I saw a video of Keanu Reeves talking about his conversation with a kid who didn’t understand what was wrong with living in the Matrix. Who cares if it’s not real? He thought this was great! He literally missed the whole point of the 4 movies he was in. It’s not great.
I saw a commercial for the new Facebook Meta world VR system. There were two guys who played together all the time. They were great friends in the VR world. They were ignoring their families and annoying those around them. including each other. As it turns out they were neighbors and didn’t even know it. They just yelled at each other to “keep it down” when they heard each other enjoy each other in real life.
Is that the kind of life people really want? Ignoring and annoying their family and neighbors to live online? This world is becoming obsessed with not living. Like my son’s father who couldn’t handle real feelings and fears and wanted to become a Cyberman. And like my son’s father this whole world is killing itself with drugs and apathy.
August 14, 2019 Neil Thompson died of a drug overdose. He had just worked out a custody agreement with me. He had just finished his Associates Degree and was moving on to his BS. He had started a new relationship with a new girl who he lied to about all of his issues. He was found in his bed in his sober house because he couldn’t handle living while feeling. How long is it going to take the rest of the world to kill themselves in the name of nihilism, and not having anything real to believe in?
4 thoughts on “Nihilism is killing people”
You identify nihilism as a “disease,” but there appears to be so much more going on in your unfortunate ex-partner’s life than a profound line of philosophical understanding. Many, many people benefit from the realizations of the truths of nihilism, rather than living with the onerous, unsupportable lies of religion and other irrational ideologies.
Generation-talk usually brings forth wild generalizations, as it did for you along with some misspellings (I think you mean first generation “without” a war or draft, and that’s not even right on the war part, and “human’s” should be plural without an apostrophe).
You make some valid points, but they are all debatable and in need of much more careful dialogue with others. Your ex-partner sounds like he had a creative, eccentric mind, so it is too bad that he couldn’t utilize the obvious power of his insights to find value in his available world, drugs or no drugs.
I didn’t identify it as a disease. I identified it as a state of mind that is killing people. If you feel that thinking life is useless and meaningless is a profound philosophical understanding, then I feel sorry for you. I did not make generalizations about generations. I used statistical analysis to come to a conclusion that nihilism is increasing at the same time that opioid abuse and suicide is skyrocketing. A lot of which is blamed on a great feeling of life being meaningless. As for my spelling, I am dyslexic and rely heavily on spell check, but apparently you found the need to use that against me. I have found that pointing out other people’s slightest mistake as proof that the person isn’t worth listening to seems to be another sign of those who don’t believe in anything. Also, the last time in America the draft was used was in the Vietnam War, and every generation before that were lining up to fight in WWII and WWI and the Spanish American War, and the Civil War, and the War of 1812, and so on and so forth. GenX till now has had no war on our land, and very few Americans have gone to war compared to other generations…. so, I’m not sure how that stat was wrong either.
In comparison with, let’s say Republican ideology, or antihuman Christian ideology, or militarist corporate ideology that each in their way destroys the livelihoods and environments and potential of billions of people, nihilism kills no one. Read Wendy Syfert’s new book “Sunny Nihilism” if you want to see what good can from the basic realization about the inherent meaninglessness of life, and how that must then be overcome.
Opioid abuse and suicide are due to many large, observable sociological factors, all traceable to the dominant social order of unchecked profit and greed from the likes of the Sackler family and the other corporate criminals of Big Pharma. And these corporate plunderers are in no way nihilistic.
Anyone with a disability has to learn to overcome it rather than complaining about somebody pointing to an error.
Gen X has been paying taxes to the largest war machine the world has ever seen, with many foreign wars funded by trillions of dollars. That’s war, by any measure.
Wars have been around since the dawn of time. I think you need to learn more history of you think wars are new