A Psychological Crisis of Extremes

A Psychological Crisis of Extremes

- 3 mins

Millennials are amongst the most depressed generations in recorded human history. Don’t take my word for it, search for yourself, but the fact largely stands. Reports published in the BBC, Psychology Today, Vogue and various other sources hold consensus. In this article, I discuss a theory that attempts to explain this rather unfortunate and curious phenomenon. Its called a crisis of extremes.

We live in a world where our senses are bombarded by information at all times. News, Social Media, smartphones, from Trump’s tweets to your friends’ instagram stories, we get to know things faster than ever before in human history. It’s pretty amazing, hands down, endless possibilities, a testament to human endeavour and what not. But there is one catch.

We don’t post everything. Not all parts of our lives are online, we post the highlights, and so does everyone else. Our news broadcasts, social media stories and feeds are all highlights of human lives that, now, are instantly accessible to us. And what do we do? We compare.

We put ourselves right up there on a pedestal, next to our feeds and wait for our turn in limelight, our shot at greatness. Because everyone elses’ life is great, they are all at beach parties with their friends. The rickshaw-puller’s daughter just cracked the public service examination and a distant cousin found purpose in life while on an year long trip across eastern Europe.

Surely. Surely your moment under the sun is right around the corner. That one startup idea you had while taking that extra-long shower is what’s going to turn it all around for you, exactly like that guy from Forbes 30 under 30 who’s changing the world. Start working on your TED talk already. Or write a book? Everyone’s getting published.

We are a generation that has gotten used to the extraordinary.
Fascinated by it. Bored of it.

I’d like to quote the acclaimed novelist Chuck Palahniuk, in a beautiful satire on the modern culture:

“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

Yes. That’s from Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fight Club.

Our generation carries a higher level of perfectionism and expectations than ever before in human history. Though how that’s working out for us is an entirely different story. It isn’t really much of a surprise then that the United States, a country that probably has the largest set of examples for individual success stories, a nation that identifies itself with a dream where values of perfectionism, perseverance and great expectations are awarded with personal success, is worst hit by adolescent and young adult depression.

It’s probably not going to be the premise of the next Black Mirror episode, but this face of the information revolution deserves our attention nonetheless. Our great war might just be a spiritual one.

Further Reading:
Business Insider
The Thirty
Psychology Today
Big Think
Epidemiology of Depression

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