Sunday, April 23, 2017

Another Perspective on the Rise in Anxiety

Anxiety is...
"not a coherent fear of a particular thing, and it tends not to focus on the problems you already have. Anxiety is the ambient apprehension that terrible things might happen. . . A mainstay of 20th-century age-of-​anxiety complaints was that our world was becoming too complex for anyone to keep track of or feel like a relevant participant in, full of strange and byzantine distances between individuals and the grand global forces affecting us. . . . You can argue with a store owner; you can’t argue with the call-center representative of the company contracted to maintain the point-of-sale machine owned by the other company contracted by the multinational conglomerate that owns the store. . . . Feelings of anxiety are closely connected to an inability to handle uncertainty. What might make human beings less anxious, it seems, is having a firmer sense of what in the world is happening and what’s likely to happen next. We seem temporarily short on both."


  1. How much of the anxiety many feel today is anchored in some sense of loss? Consider the rise of the precariat, announced by Morneau when he warned Canadians were just going to have to accept a future of "job churn." Think of people who fear for the future of their children and grandchildren, knowing they're largely powerless to restore to the young what they had in "their day." Who doesn't see the order, our modes of organization whether political, social, economic, beginning to falter?

    It would be great to have a common understanding of "what in the world is happening and what's likely to happen next" and yet even those we elect to high office and entrust with our safety and welfare and the world our grandchildren will inherit stumble about in deep denial.

    Or am I speaking of despondency, not anxiety?

  2. Nothing's predictable, and we're all alone. It's not like some tragic event is happening that we can rally around together. We're bumbling through the mess picking sides that matter less and less. And those polarizing agents are segregating us further. But at least it's sunny out!

  3. I was talking to some friends this weekend about how social media doesn't help us at all with identifying the real problems and instead focuses us on the things we like or share virally. Nowadays, you don't have to hear the other side and we're stuck thinking that there are many other sides too; a situation too complex for any one person to understand. We've created our own social bureaucracy. We are not responsible for anything yet we want to be in control of everything.


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