A menacing post slithers
- Local time
- Today, 00:35
- Jun 7, 2017
Sitting in a coffee shop and looking around, I cannot say I see many nihilists. People seem happy and engaged in their pursuits, looking through facebook posts on their laptop, etc. And I am pretty sure Nietzsche was right – God is dead. Very few of these people believe in metaphysical worlds above us, or True Worlds as Nietzsche thought of them, which supposedly justify the individuals' existence in this world. But Nietzsche predicted that when people absolve themselves of the belief in True Worlds, they would become deeply nihilistic, which, as mentioned doesn't seem to be true.God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers...
– Nietzsche, The Gay Science
My question then is – what do these people actually believe and how do they avoid slipping into the vortex of nihilism? I doubt, for example, that these people are existentialists and know that they have to generate their own individual purpose, and that this purpose has to be pretty much arbitrarily chosen.
I have a few ideas:
- Work has become infused with intrinsic meaning, as it were – you need to have "passion" for what you do. Thus if you convince yourself you have passion for your work, you can simply live in this state of intoxicating passion.
- Social media provides a hamster-wheel of social validation, which (in a slightly perverse way) satisfies the need for self-esteem and thus functions as a superficial remedy against nihilism.
- People infuse inflated meaning into trivial things like going to the gym. They view themselves as heroes in epic battles when they are lifting weights.
- Various forms of escapism, like video games
- There is a strong system in place for people to follow: go to school, get a job, make a family, retire. This doesn't create values, however, only social pressures.
- The need for self-esteem is artificially removed by postponing true engagement with the world into the future. By this I mean for example someone who is a student into their 30s because they are unable, supposedly, to find their "true purpose". By doing this, you don't need to confront the fact that there is no true purpose – you just create the idea that sometime in the future this purpose will be revealed to you. This to me seems like the state of the quintessential Millennial.