You’re not Dreaming, There’s Doom and Gloom Everywhere

And there’s a reason you seldom see anything else

Photo by Bill Mackie on Unsplash

If most everything right now feels awful, it may have more to do with your perception rather than your perspective.

You are the content you consume and share.

At present, most of the content we see emphasizes negative emotions to drum up engagement. Everyone is at it, from mainstream media to social media users with some outrage, trauma, or terrible tale to hawk.

Make no mistake, those are angry, traumatic, and terrible times for everyone on some level.

No matter how sunny your disposition, the uncertainty gets to you after a while and depletes your mental bandwidth. Then again, what we focus on tends to grow. As a rule, the media exaggerates the negative anyway, which messes up with our perception of the world. We may also be more attracted to bad news because it entertains our illusion of superiority.

But when panic becomes someone’s pay check, it’s always at the expense of someone else. And that someone else is you, me, and anyone with an internet connection. Now that we spend most of our days online, that’s entire continents worth of people falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of doom.

Our collective mental health is declining rapidly.

Fear, anger, and greed are always louder than love and sympathy. At a time when they are more precious than ever, why does the internet have so little?

For all the technology at our disposal, many have, it seems, decided to use it to monetize global human vulnerability.

Instead of lifting one another up, we market digital fixes to every possible human shortcoming. Better still, the desperation market is booming and profiteering is how capitalism survives during a crisis.

You have to self-soothe, you have to pivot, you have to grow and there’s never been a better time to reinvent yourself, apparently. Failure to upgrade will be punishable by hunger, homelessness, or death.

For many of us, that’s not even hyperbole, only blunt truth, so yeah, thanks for the reminder, bro.

Kicking people when they’re down may not be our most appealing trait as a species but there are self-styled entrepreneurs whose entire business model rests on making us feel inadequate and doubt ourselves.

The question is whether we want to enable them further or not. As we belatedly begin to reckon with the digital Frankensteins our collective greed birthed, we realize things are askew. Plus, there are suddenly too many confusing considerations at play and you cannot always tell who is struggling and who isn’t.

Here’s a hint: Sometimes, dignity is contingent on privacy and soldiering on.

All you know for sure is that you are having a strange time of it all. But you also sense something might be off with the balance of the universe.

What about the gentle flicker of hope tickling your heart whenever you happen upon joy? With oxygen, it will burn brighter.

Instead, all the darkness you let in smothers it.

An entire planet is trying to catch its breath and brace itself for what comes next.

Already, the pandemic is closing the gap between dream and reality, showing us that not everything we held as important is. As we reassess our values, we discover news ways to be and do human. For example, remote work is either the best thing ever or a nightmare that makes cubicle life look like utopia.

We have been having mixed feelings about most things lately, including who we are as individuals and as a society but we may not be as despondent as we believe ourselves to be. Or as we are being constantly reminded by those who stand to profit from our vulnerability and insecurities.

What about those navigating uncertainty under duress and who are immeasurably content? What about those making the most of being with loved ones by celebrating family and companionship? What about those deflecting distress by diving in head first into the weird and the wondrous?

What about those who have lost or are losing everything but choose to embrace the moment with enthusiasm anyway?

Despite dot dot dot, everyone without exception fits in this Venn diagram of human resilience and you are no exception. Think of despite as your new best friend, multipurpose, portable defiance on tap that flips the bird at the status quo.

Cultivating a contrarian spirit is free so why not give it a shot?

There is a global awakening happening: We are finding out what we were capable of and how we want to live despite all that ails, hinders, and limits us.

The signal we amplify now will be our legacy.

Will it be love or will it be fear?

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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