Modern existential despair and loneliness

17 Replies, 858 Views

Michael Tymn has written in his blog a good summary analysis of one of the scourges of modern times, the spread of existential despair and loneliness into the masses of the population. This has been primarily spurred by three factors according to Tymn: (1) - pervasive materialist ideological teaching in the schools and by the media, where these underlying toxic feelings are inevitable since most people now have been taught and have internalized the expectation of dreaded annihilation upon physical death, (2) - alienating modern TV and computer internet media, and (3) - growing irrelevancy and joblessness due to computer automation replacing legions of jobs  ( http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/en..._nihilism/ ). 

Quote:"(The modern widespread and persistent despair, despondency and loneliness especially afflicting young adults) is all part of what psychiatrist Viktor Frankl referred to in his 1959 classic,  Man’s Search for Meaning, as an “existential vacuum” – a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century which, Frankl stated, manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom, which has its roots in emptiness and meaninglessness.  “In actual fact, boredom is now causing, and certainly bringing to psychiatrists, more problems to solve than distress,” Frankl, who survived Nazi death camps, continues.  “And these problems are growing increasingly crucial, for progressive automation will probably lead to an enormous increase in the leisure hours available to the average worker. The pity of it is that many of these will not know what to do with all their newly acquired free time.”
..................................
...(this modern) existential vacuum (is) a mass neurosis which might otherwise be described as a private and personal form of nihilism, a condition in which the person can find no meaning in life. Being a scientist and recognizing that science had more or less impeached religion by that time, and that most people can’t separate religious teachings from existential conclusions, Frankl was cautious in suggesting a “larger life,” one in which the lessons of suffering in this life open our eyes to the bigger picture..."

Of course, being a good materialist scientist  or at least having that reputation, Frankl couldn't suggest anything like an afterlife actually exists.
(This post was last modified: 2023-06-12, 12:15 AM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
[-] The following 4 users Like nbtruthman's post:
  • Brian, Raimo, Ninshub, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2023-06-12, 12:09 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Michael Tymn has written in his blog a good summary analysis of one of the scourges of modern times, the spread of existential despair and loneliness into the masses of the population. This has been primarily spurred by three factors according to Tymn: (1) - pervasive materialist ideological teaching in the schools and by the media, where these underlying toxic feelings are inevitable since most people now have been taught and have internalized the expectation of dreaded annihilation upon physical death, (2) - alienating modern TV and computer internet media, and (3) - growing irrelevancy and joblessness due to computer automation replacing legions of jobs  ( http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/en..._nihilism/ ). 


Of course, being a good materialist scientist  or at least having that reputation, Frankl couldn't suggest anything like an afterlife actually exists.

I'm willing to bet Victor Frankl was not a materialist. The man survived what might be called the apex of mechanization, the Nazi death camps and wrote this ->

Quote:If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as an automation of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instincts, heredity, and environment, we feed the despair to which man is, in any case, already prone.

I became acquainted with the last stages of corruption in my second concentration camp in Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment—or, as the Nazis liked to say, of ‘Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 1 user Likes Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • nbtruthman
I remember as a small child in the 1960s reading that in future machines will do all the work and people will have lots of leisure time. The picture it painted was a very positive and uplifting one, especially against a background of lots of heavy manual labour and repetitive factory jobs.

Later on, before I'd embarked on any sort of career path, I found myself participating in that life of leisure. The picture was far less rosy, some parts of society working 70-hours per week and mass unemployment in others. During my working life I saw working hours get longer and holidays (vacation) reduced. There was something very bizarre about it all.

There are though some slight moves, some companies are trying to move from a five-day working week to a 4-day one. In some countries there are experiments with a universal salary paid to everyone, not as compensation for being unemployed but simply as an ordinary part of life. Those things are interesting, not because they are solutions but because they are examining the problem and trying out ideas.

As for the primary topic of this thread, existential despair and loneliness. I wouldn't necessarily place those ideas in proximity. It is possible to go through existential despair collectively, even among a group and having friends. People are different, we all find our way through this world in our own way and some of the answers I found came from trusting my own intuitions and receiving ideas in dreams. But it was only when out of necessity I tried prayer, even though somewhere between atheist and agnostic at the time, that I found some response.

I guess that does tie in with the idea of loneliness, having received a response through prayer, I don't think I've ever felt alone since then. Human company is good and welcome but I also appreciate quiet times by myself, perhaps because it is then that I can commune with something greater, whether one calls it 'nature' or 'the universe' or any other name doesn't matter to me, I'm not fussy about words.
[-] The following 6 users Like Typoz's post:
  • stephenw, Raimo, Sciborg_S_Patel, nbtruthman, Larry, Ninshub
(2023-06-12, 12:09 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Michael Tymn has written in his blog a good summary analysis of one of the scourges of modern times, the spread of existential despair and loneliness into the masses of the population. This has been primarily spurred by three factors according to Tymn: (1) - pervasive materialist ideological teaching in the schools and by the media, where these underlying toxic feelings are inevitable since most people now have been taught and have internalized the expectation of dreaded annihilation upon physical death, (2) - alienating modern TV and computer internet media, and (3) - growing irrelevancy and joblessness due to computer automation replacing legions of jobs  ( http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/en..._nihilism/ ). 


Of course, being a good materialist scientist  or at least having that reputation, Frankl couldn't suggest anything like an afterlife actually exists.
Hi, newcomer to the website here. As a 16 year old I can definitely agree with the part you quoted about materialist teaching in the classroom and ESPECIALLY internet media. Many apps that I use occasionally (reddit,discord,tiktok) have a large community of people who mostly reject any scientific evidence for the existence of some sort of continuation after “death”. I am guilty of being in that crowd especially after my breaking away from a Christian view point and trying to find solace in the anti-theist atheist community for some time. Eventually I began to feel dread over the matters of life and death in an “Oh Shit” moment after learning more and more about the climate change situation that’s been going on. Eventually push came to shove and I became depressed for months with little to no motivation out of fear that eventually everything I do have been for nothing and absolutely everything I know will cease to exist. I personally have only just started limited research into the cases for life after death and non-materialist view points since about right at the end of 8th grade and it has helped a little bit with easing my existential fears over these last few years. On the brighter side of things, while there most definitely is a big community (especially on reddit) of people skeptic of NDE’s and OBE/Astral Projection phenomena I’m glad to have also come across the proponets of metaphysical/afterlife research over there on that platform. Digging through some comment threads actually led me to this site. Sorry if this ventured off topic in any way!
[-] The following 3 users Like xman00's post:
  • Raimo, nbtruthman, Ninshub
(2023-06-13, 08:05 AM)xman00 Wrote: Hi, newcomer to the website here. As a 16 year old I can definitely agree with the part you quoted about materialist teaching in the classroom and ESPECIALLY internet media. Many apps that I use occasionally (reddit,discord,tiktok) have a large community of people who mostly reject any scientific evidence for the existence of some sort of continuation after “death”. I am guilty of being in that crowd especially after my breaking away from a Christian view point and trying to find solace in the anti-theist atheist community for some time. Eventually I began to feel dread over the matters of life and death in an “Oh Shit” moment after learning more and more about the climate change situation that’s been going on. Eventually push came to shove and I became depressed for months with little to no motivation out of fear that eventually everything I do have been for nothing and absolutely everything I know will cease to exist. I personally have only just started limited research into the cases for life after death and non-materialist view points since about right at the end of 8th grade and it has helped a little bit with easing my existential fears over these last few years. On the brighter side of things, while there most definitely is a big community (especially on reddit) of people skeptic of NDE’s and OBE/Astral Projection phenomena I’m glad to have also come across the proponets of metaphysical/afterlife research over there on that platform. Digging through some comment threads actually led me to this site. Sorry if this ventured off topic in any way!

While you didn't ask for it, as someone significantly older than you (I have three kids who are all older than you as well Wink ), I would offer you a small bit of advice.

If you haven't already, seek out people in your personal network that you can talk to about these things.  Whether that be immediate or extended family, friends, teachers, etc.  I worry for smart (you're obviously so!), young people who end up exclusively engaged via digital mediums on these topics.  I truly think the interpersonal fellowship of others can be incredibly helpful and healthy here.

Oh, and welcome to our little corner of the digital space. Smile
[-] The following 6 users Like Silence's post:
  • Obiwan, Brian, Raimo, Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel, Ninshub
(2023-06-13, 01:33 PM)Silence Wrote: If you haven't already, seek out people in your personal network that you can talk to about these things.  Whether that be immediate or extended family, friends, teachers, etc.

Although that's not always easy to find! One may have to look beyond friends and family.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Ninshub's post:
  • Obiwan
(2023-06-13, 02:20 PM)Ninshub Wrote: Although that's not always easy to find! One may have to look beyond friends and family.

Understood, but I'm just wary of how easy it is to take what can be the road more travelled and just go online.  There's a compassion and personal investment element here, especially for young people, that just doesn't come through via the digital medium.  So while the search may be some work, I think its likely worth it.
[-] The following 4 users Like Silence's post:
  • Obiwan, Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel, Ninshub
Agreed. Yes by all means search.
(This post was last modified: 2023-06-13, 02:58 PM by Ninshub.)
[-] The following 2 users Like Ninshub's post:
  • xman00, Sciborg_S_Patel
Was thinking about this question of despair and the role of materialism. Colin Wilson once said something that to me centers on the importance of parapsychology ->

"Now it should be clear why I think that ‘the paranormal’ is of such immense importance. Here is one field that is untinged by contemporary pessimism. The clear message that emerges is that man possesses powers of which he is normally unaware. As Richard Church watched the gardener wielding the axe, and noticed that the sound came after the blow, he says that he experienced a marvellous sense of freedom. His enemy so far had been ‘the drag of the earth’. Now he realised that he had been overestimating the enemy. It was at that moment that he made an instinctive effort and rose from the ground and glided about the room. When man can clearly recognise the existence of these powers, and incorporate that recognition into his everyday awareness—so that he is no longer subject to a permanent ‘leakage’ of vitality—then he will suddenly have become a totally different kind of creature."

- Wilson, Colin. Supernatural

For all the charlatans and religious exploiters parapsychology may give some power to, I think the ultimate end result will be positive. One can look the anti-authoritarian aspect of the French Mesmerism times, the abolitionist bent of the Swedenborg followers, and even the New Age years that for all their embarrassing aspects did provide an anchor for people who abandoned their old religious beliefs yet wanted something spiritual in their lives.

And of course even the "old time" religions have their place - we cannot forget the civil rights movements that were inspired by religious ideals.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-06-15, 06:16 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
The problem is that not being ideal is not the same as not being true.  Following a set of beliefs because they are nice might bring comfort but won't necessarily bring truth.  Why write about the damage materialism does as if that makes any difference as to whether or not it is worth believing.  Writings like that make the search for immortality sound like nothing but comforting fantasy.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Brian's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel

  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)