People are slowly losing faith in the conventional institutions of politics, religion and mass media.
In a time of information overload and increased societal fragmentation, having more autonomy can provide various key advantages to the individual.
Historically, the inherent desire for safety and security has led the average person to put their faith in various institutions. The modern age has ushered in increasingly rapid social and technological change. In fact, constant change has become the norm. This rapid change threatens everyone’s sense of stability.
This is another reason why today’s college students are a lot more fearful of the future than past generations and take life mores seriously. We are seeing a gradual decrease in the carefree, irresponsible binge drinking party lifestyle that was once the norm on many college campuses in the west.
More insight on that here:
In the past, there was a belief that simply graduating from college alone provided a form of stability as you would be guaranteed a living wage job. The first generation to learn this was not the case is the millennial generation who started graduating college around the mid-2000’s. Shortly after the events of 9/11 in the United States. Younger members of the millennial generation would graduate college at the peak of the global economic recession in 2008 that stripped away the feeling of security and abundance this generation grew up with.
Watching their parents lose their jobs and struggle to find new ones was a very eye-opening experience. All the while they, themselves, struggled to find work.
In the current information age, with rapidly developing technology, improving developments in Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and more robots and computers taking jobs from humans, it is very easy for many people to fear the future. Nothing is really guaranteed anymore. In reality, nothing was ever guaranteed. But today, this reality is becoming more and more obvious to more and more people.
The rapid change is not just changing the physical world in terms of improved technology, but also the social world. As the information age ushers in a move towards an increasingly intellectual world, we are seeing the gradual decline and death of tradition.
With progress comes wisdom. Just like the tradition of owning slaves eventually became incompatible with the progress of the changing world, so will many of the traditions we still honor today.
The Internet and information age also created a more progress-based, forward thinking culture that is based on adapting to the present and preparing for the future rather than honoring the past.
Since tradition offers a form of social and economic stability, the gradual decline of tradition brings increasing levels of instability. This instability creates a culture of skepticism. It should come at no surprise that many people are losing trust in the mass media, religion, and politics.
The question of “right vs. wrong” becomes something for the individual to decide on their own rather than a widely accepted cultural truth. Since skepticism causes everything to be questioned, there is no longer a firm and reliable way to view the world. Each individual must essentially “find their own truth” or seek out wisdom independently.
The end result is increased fragmentation in society where people organize themselves into small “tribes” of like-minded individuals who think like them while rejecting any contrary information from outside groups.
One of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon is the increasingly toxic political climate. We also see various “groups within groups”. It goes beyond being a Liberal or a Conservative. We also have various self-identifying sub-groups such as “Nerds, Incels, Socialites, Feminists, etc.”
These groups have their benefits and drawbacks. On one hand it creates a sense of community for people who don’t connect with the broader “status quo” culture. However, the downside is creating a dangerous culture of “us vs. them” where people in these subgroups become radicalized in their beliefs and hateful of those who don’t share them.
Perhaps the grand takeaway from this situation boils down to the reality of human nature and its inherent tendency to be insatiable. Human beings are natural hypocrites as we often desire opposing things at the same time. We both love and hate diversity. We both love and hate freedom. We both love and hate change. We both love and hate independence.
Our insatiability may be responsible for our progress as a species, but it is also responsible for our never-ending conflict with each other. Things like world peace and equality might be an impossible goal due to human nature itself. Even if you make everyone the same race, culture, religion and ethnicity, people will still find ways to separate themselves into opposing tribes.
This is why knowing who you are and what you want is more important than ever in today’s climate. The age where the individual person can safely put their faith in a single status quo is quickly fading. The modern world increasingly requires people to be independent or part of a sub-group. Lacking a strong sense of your individual priorities can lead you into a sub-group that works against your best interests.
Gaining a strong sense of your priorities requires being truly honest with yourself about what you want out of life. Most people who are in doubt about what they want are just trying to have their cake and eat it too. They might have a strong desire to behave or think a certain way, but are unwilling to make the social, economic or cultural sacrifice required to live that way. And thus, they remain unhappy in their sub-group “going along to get along” while feeling underlying resentment at the same time.
The follow up to this article goes into more detail about the advantages of being a Lone Wolf.