Everyone I know is brokenhearted.

All the genuinely smart, talented, funny people I know seem to be miserable these days. You feel it on Twitter more than Facebook, because Facebook is where you go to do your performance art where you pretend to be a hip, urbane person with the most awesomest friends and the best relationships and the very best lunches ever. Facebook is surface; Twitter is subtext, and judging by what I’ve seen, the subtext is aching sadness.

I’m not immune to this. I don’t remember ever feeling this miserable and depressed in my life, this sense of futility that makes you wish you’d simply go numb and not care anymore. I think a lot about killing myself these days. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do it and this isn’t a cry for help. But I wake up and think: fuck, more of this? Really? How much more? And is it really worth it?

In my case, much of it stems from my divorce and the collapse of the next relationship I had. But that’s not really the cause. I think that those relationships were bulwarks, charms against the dark I’ve felt growing in this world for a long time now. When I was in love, the world outside didn’t matter so much. But without it, there is nothing keeping the wolf from the door.

It didn’t used to be like this when I was a kid. I’m not getting nostalgic here, or pretending that my adolescence and my twenties were some kind of soft-focused Golden Age. Life sucked when I was young. I was unhappy then too. But there was always the sense that it was just a temporary thing, that if I stuck it out eventually the world was going to get better — become awesome, in fact.

But the reality is that the three generations who ended the 20th century, the Boomers, their Generation X children, and Generation Y, have architected a Western civilization that’s kind of a shit show. Being born in 1978, I fall at either the tail end of Gen X or the beginning of Gen Y, depending on how you look at it. I became an adolescent at the time Nirvana was ushering in a decade of “slacker” ideology, as the pundits liked to put it. But the reality is that I didn’t know a whole lot of actual slackers in the 1990s. I did know a lot of people who found themselves disillusioned with the materialism of the 1980s and what we saw as the failed rhetoric of the Sixties generation, who were all about peace and love right until the time they put on suits and ties and figured out how to divide up the world. I knew a lot of people who weren’t very interested in that path.

The joke, of course, is that every generation kills the thing they love. The hippies became yuppies; Gen X talked a lot about the revolution, and then went and got themselves some venture capital and started laying into place the oversaturated, paranoid world we live in now. A lot of them tried to tell themselves they were still punk as fuck, but it’s hard to morally reconcile the thing where you listen to Fugazi on the way to your job where you help find new ways to trick people into giving up their data to advertisers. Most people don’t even bother. They just compartmentalize.

And I’m not blaming them. The world came apart at the end of the 90s, when the World Trade Center did. My buddy Brent and I were talking about this one night last year — about how the end of the 90s looked like revolution. Everybody was talking about Naomi Klein and anti-consumerism and people in Seattle were rioting over the WTO. Hell, a major motion picture company put out Fight Club, which is about as unsubtle an attack on consumer corporate capitalism as you can get. We were poised on the brink of something. You could feel it.

And then the World Trade Center went down. And all of a sudden calling yourself an “anticapitalist terrorist” was no longer a cool posture to psych yourself up for protest. It became something you might go to jail for — or worse, to one of the Black Camps on some shithole island somewhere. Corporate capitalism became conflated somehow with patriotism. And the idea that the things you own end up defining you became quaint, as ridiculous spoken aloud as “tune in, turn on, drop out”. In fact, it became a positive: if you bought the right laptop, the right smartphone, the right backpack, exciting strangers would want to have sex with you!

It’s no wonder that Gen X began seeking the largely mythological stability of their forebearers; to stop fucking around and eating mushrooms at the Rage Against The Machine show, and to try and root yourself. Get a decent car — something you can pass off as utilitarian — and a solid career. Put your babies in Black Flag onesies, but make sure their stroller is more high tech than anything mankind ever took to the Moon, because that wolf is always at the door. And buy yourself a house, because property is always valuable. Even if you don’t have the credit, because there’s this thing called a “subprime mortgage” you can get now!

But the world changed again. And kept changing. So now you’ve got this degree that’s worth fuck-all, a house that’s worth more as scrap lumber than as a substantial investment, and you’re either going to lose your job or have to do the work of two people, because there’s a recession on. Except they keep saying the recession ended, so why are you still working twice as hard for the same amount of money?

We started two wars, only one of them even marginally justifiable, and thousands and thousands of people died. Some of them were Americans, most of them weren’t. The world hated us again. It’s psychically oppressive to realize you’re the bad guy.

Of course, for a lot of the world, America had always been the bad guy…but we didn’t really know that before, because we didn’t have the Internet in our pocket, to be pulled out at every lunch break and before the meal came and when the episode of Scrubs on TV dragged a little, and before bed. We were encouraged to immerse ourselves in the endless flow of information, to become better informed, because knowing more about the world made us better people.

And maybe it did, but it also made us haunted people.

Yesterday morning, when I woke up, I clicked on a video in my Twitter feed that showed mutilated children being dragged from the streets of Gaza. And I started sobbing — just sobbing, sitting there in my bed with the covers around my waist, saying “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” over and over to the empty room. Dead children, torn to bits. And then it was time for…what? Get up, eat my cereal, go about my day? Every day?

So you’re haunted, and you’re outraged, and you go on Twitter and you go on Facebook and you change your avatar or your profile picture to a slogan somebody thoughtfully made for you, so that you can show the world that you’re watching, that you care, that it matters. But if you’re at all observant, you begin to realize after a while that it doesn’t matter; that your opinion matters for very little in the world. You voted for Obama, because Obama was about hope and change; except he seems to be mostly about hope and change for rich people, and not about hope at all for the people who are killed by American drones or who are locked away without trial in American internment camps or who are prosecuted because they stand up and tell the truth about their employers. There does seem to be a lot of hope and change in Fort Meade and Langley, though, where the NSA and CIA are given more and more leeway to spy on everyone in the world, including American citizens, not for what they’ve done but what they might do.

And the rest of the world? They keep making more dead children. They slaughter each other in the streets of Baghdad and Libya and Gaza and Tel Aviv; they slaughter each other in the hills of Syria; and, increasingly, they slaughter each other in American schools and movie theaters and college campuses.

And when you speak up about that — when you write to your Congressperson to say that you believe in, say, stricter control on the purchase of assault weapons, or limiting the rights of corporations to do astonishing environmental damage, or not sending billions of dollars to the kind of people who think it’s funny to launch missiles filled with flechette rounds into the middle of schools where children huddle together — you’re told that, no, you’re the fascist: that people have the right to defend themselves and make money, and that those rights trump your right to not be killed by some fucking lunatic when you’re waiting in line at Chipotle to grab a chicken burrito, and your right to not be able to light your tapwater on fire with a Zippo because of the chemicals in it, or not to end up in a grainy YouTube video while some demented religious fanatic hacks your head off with a rusty bayonet because your country — not you, but who’s counting — is the Great Satan.

And the music sucks. Dear God, the music sucks. Witless, vapid bullshit that makes the worst airheaded wannabe profundities of the grunge era look like the collected works of Thomas Locke. Half the songs on the radio aren’t anything more than a looped 808 beat and some dude grunting and occasionally talking about how he likes to fuck bitches in the ass. The other half are grown-ass adults singing about their stunted, adolescent romantic ideals and playing a goddamn washtub while dressed like extras from The Waltons.

The music sucks. The movies suck — I mean, they didn’t suck the first time they came out, in the 1980s, but the remakes and gritty reboots and decades-past-their-sell-by-date sequels suck. Indiana Jones is awesome, but nobody needs to see a geriatric Harrison Ford, lured out of retirement by the promise of building another mansion onto his mansion, running around with fucking Shia LeBeouf in the jungle. And besides, we’re all media experts now; we can spot the merchandising nods from the trailer all the way to the final credits. There’s no magic left. It’s just another company figuring out a way to suck the very last molecules of profit out of the things we cherish, because that’s what corporations do.

Everything is branded. Even people. People are “personal brands”, despite the fact that, by and large, you can’t figure out what most of them are actually even good for. They just exist to be snarky and post selfies and demand that you buy something, anything, with their picture on it.

You actually know who Kim Kardashian is. In an ideal world, you’d be as unaware of her existence as you are of the names of the Chinese kids who made the futurephone or featherweight laptop you’re almost certainly reading this on. In an ideal world, Kim Kardashian would have spent her life getting sport-fucked anonymously by hip-hop stars in some Bel Air mansion, ran a salon, and either died of a coke overdose or Botox poisoning. There is no reason that her face and her life and her tits and her deathless thoughts needed to be foisted upon the world outside of the 90210 ZIP code. Except that somebody figured out that you could make money off showing people the car accident in slow motion, that people would watch that. Sure they will. People love to watch stupid people do stupid things. It makes them feel less stupid.

And the Internet.

We built this thing — I include myself in that because I started doing HTML in 1994 and was part of the generation who took to the new medium like water and have made the majority of our adult lives creating it, to a greater or lesser degree — because we believed it would make things better for everyone. We believed it would give voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, bring us all together, help us to understand and empathize and share with one another. We believed it could tear down the walls.

And in a lot of ways it has. But in just as many ways, it has driven us all insane. There’s an old story — I have no idea if it’s true — about monkeys who had the pleasure centers of their brains wired up to a button. Push it, Mr. Monkey, and you have an orgasm. And the monkeys did. They pushed the button and they pushed the button, until they forgot about eating and they forgot about drinking and sleeping and simply fell down and died.

What do you do when you first wake up? What do you do as soon as you get into work? After work? Before bed? Hell, some of us wake up in the night and check our feeds, terrified that we’ve missed out on something.

We do it because we are given that reward, that stimulus that tells us oooh, a new shiny! It’s the fourteenth Guardians Of The Galaxy trailer, with 200% more Rocket Raccoon! Some fucking null node in Portland made a portrait of every single character from Adventure Time out of bacon and Legos! And, maybe most poisonous, maybe most soul-crushing: somebody said something I don’t like that makes me feel frightened and threatened! It’s time to put on my superhero costume and forward unto battle!

Except it doesn’t matter. Because you’re not really changing anybody’s mind. How often does that little skirmish end with anybody changing their mind at all, even a little bit? Or does it just end with one of you invariably either blocking the other or saying something like “You know what, I’m going to stop now, because this is getting out of hand.”

Getting out of hand?

Everything they told you about how to live in the world when you were a kid is a lie. Education doesn’t matter, not even on paper. Being ethical doesn’t matter. Being a good person doesn’t matter. What matters now is that you’re endlessly capable of the hustle, of bringing in that long green, of being entertaining to enough people that somebody will want to give you money or fuck you or fund your startup. We’re all sharks now; if we stop swimming for just a little too long, we die. We lose followers. We’re lame. We’re not worth funding, or fucking. Because all that matters is the endless churn, the endless parade, the endless cycle of buying and trying to sell and being bought and sold by people who tell you that they’re your friends, man, not like those others. Microsoft is evil and Google is not evil, except when they are, but that’s not really important, and if you decide that maybe you’re tired of being reduced to nothing more than a potential lead for a sales pitch, like something out of a fucking David Mamet play, then you’re a hater and irrelevant and a Luddite. And besides, what would you do with yourself if you weren’t checking Facebook or playing Candy Crush Saga or watching some teenage dumbass smash his genitals on the side of a pool on YouTube? What the fuck would you even do, bro?

The comedian Bill Hicks used to do a bit where he invited the advertisers and marketers in his audience to kill themselves. He imagined them turning it into an ad campaign: “Oh, the righteous indignation dollar, that’s a good dollar, Bill’s smart to do that.” He laid out the futility of trying to escape: “I’m just caught in a fucking web,” he’d say.

And that’s where we are. You, me, we’re trapped, between being nothing more than consumers, every aspect of our lives quantified and turned into demographic data, or being fucking Amish cavemen drifting into increasing irrelevancy. Because it really does feel like there’s no middle ground anymore, doesn’t it? There’s no way to stay an active, informed citizen of the world without some motherfucker figuring out a way to squirm into your life to try and get a dollar out of you. Only fools expect something for free, and only bigger fools believe they’re anything other than a consumable or a consumer.

We didn’t get the William Gibson future where you can live like a stainless steel rat in the walls between the corporate enclaves, tearing at the system from within with your anarchy and your superior knowledge of Unix command lines. Now it’s just pissed off teenagers who blame you because their lives are going to suck a cock and billionaire thugs trying to sell you headphones and handbags, all to a soundtrack of some waterhead muttering “Bubble butt, bubble bubble bubble butt” over and over while a shite beat thumps in the background.

I know a lot of people who privately long for an apocalypse of some kind, a breakdown of the ancient Western code, because then they’d either be dead or free. How fucking horrifying is that?

But nobody pulls that trigger, because now we’ve all seen what apocalypses look like. We saw Manhattan in 2001 and New Orleans in 2005 and Thailand in 2004 and the Middle East pretty much any given day. Nobody wants to hate, because we’re pummeled with hate every day, by people who are too fucking stupid to understand that the world has passed them by as much as it’s passed by the dude in the Soundgarden t-shirt who still drives around singing along to “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” on his way to his dead-end job. The best lack all conviction, and the people who are full of passionate intensity? Fuck them. We’re all sick of their shit anyway.

And that’s where we are, and is it any goddamn wonder at all that the most profitable drugs sold in America for like a decade running have been antipsychotics? The world seems psychotic.

I feel like I need to figure this out, like figuring all of this out and finding new ways to live has become the most important thing I could possibly do, not just for myself and the people I love but for the entire human race. I don’t mean me alone — I’m far too self-loathing to have a messiah complex — but I feel like, for me, this is the best use of my time. Because the world is making me crazy and sad and wanting to just put a gun in my mouth, and it’s doing the same thing to a lot of people who shouldn’t have to feel this way.

I don’t believe anymore that the answer lies in more or better tech, or even awareness. I think the only thing that can save us is us. I think we need to find ways to tribe up again, to find each other and put our arms around each other and make that charm against the dark. I don’t mean in any hateful or exclusionary way, of course. But I think like minds need to pull together and pool our resources and rage against the dying of the light. And I do think rage is a component that’s necessary here: a final fundamental fed-up-ness with the bullshit and an unwillingness to give any more ground to the things that are doing us in. To stop being reasonable. To stop being well-behaved. Not to hate those who are hurting us with their greed and psychopathic self-interest, but to simply stop letting them do it. The best way to defeat an enemy is not to destroy them, but to make them irrelevant.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know some truth that I can reveal to everyone. All I can do is hurt, and try to stop hurting, and try to help other people stop hurting. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. But isn’t that something worth devoting yourself to, more than building another retarded app that just puts more nonsense and bullshit into the world? Just finding people to love, and healing each other? I think it is.

Until I know more, I’ll just keep holding on. I won’t put the gun in my mouth. Because all of this sadness is worth it if there’s still hope. And I want to still have hope so badly. I still want to believe, in myself, and in you.

Listen

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139 Responses to Everyone I know is brokenhearted.

  1. Steven Gomez says:

    mkhyc10, what exactly gives you the authority to tell anyone what they should and should not think? Or are you just another overpaid twentysomething software engineer in SF who thinks he’s worldly and wise because he backpacked through Europe during college, drove through enough bad neighborhoods to completely understand what it’s like to struggle through poverty, and listens to TED talks and other podcasts on his way to and from his glorified coder job?

  2. mkhyc10 says:

    Well Gomez I didn’t tell anyone what to think or not think. Perhaps you should consider what is is about my reply that actually bothers you so much. When people post opinions for public consumption than other people are going to post their opinions and reactions to that. If THAT bothers you than perhaps you are in the wrong country. If you have a bug up your a** about software coders/engineers (which I am not) then perhaps you are as well. It was a “glorified coder” that allowed you to share your ‘thoughts’ with me and the rest of the word just now by tapping your fingers a few times. Go figure…

  3. admin says:

    “Sport-fucked” does not mean “raped”, for God’s sake. It’s a slang term for casual, recreational sex (as opposed to, I dunno, sex between people in love). Kim Kardashian’s initial claim to fame was that she made a sex tape with a hip-hop star named Ray J that became public. Now she’s married to Kanye West. So clearly, she likes to fuck hip-hop stars. That’s all that line meant. Sorry if you misunderstood that.

  4. beyondnihilism says:

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I don’t know you, but I shared it, and in my little subculture there was a lot of: yes, yes, nailed it, yes, thank you. I don’t care that it’s not perfect, or that your facts aren’t all dead-on. I’m glad you don’t let that little shit paralyze you. I also don’t think this post is misogynist or that you idealized a good sport-fucking for Kim; I think you are lamenting both her far more public exploitation and the countless people engaged in it and profiting by it. As far as underlying philosophy, who the fuck isn’t incoherent on that shit nowadays? That’s the point, I think, of what you’re saying. As for solutions, I hope you are able to tribe up. It is the brightest future for America’s smart, talented, funny people.

  5. mkhyc10 says:

    @everyonesanocean Why does OP have to “be more careful about how you speak, write, and think about women”? First of all he is talking about a woman how made her sex life public as a career. What care does he owe her? Second of all he also says “We’re lame. We’re not worth funding, or fucking”. He was talking about men and people then. Were you offended by that or did you get what he meant? Perhaps the rape culture you speak of (fyi: rape has been reduce by 75% in the last 20 years) is one where have women telling you how to think and speak and act and redefining rape (needless to say a crime which we all find horrendous) and accusing men of advocating it and twisting their words around to make it seem as if they are implying it. Men fuck, women get fucked, that is the literal, albeit crass, definition of sex (please feel free to not apply this euphemistically). Taping yourself getting fucked and selling tapes of it is at best sport-fucking and at worst profit-fucking. So what respect does OP owe this woman and how does taking her on her word and actions equate to misogyny. Clearly he is offended to live in a culture where she is celebrated. Like I told him in my reply however, the only choice is to not watch or celebrate her, to associate with other people who do not, and to create things and associations that celebrate his own values.

  6. erikalopez says:

    This is beautiful, beautiful. A gorgeously raw scream like HOWL. Fuck everyone else pulling points apart. They are just scared and neeeeed to find ways to invalidate you and what you’re saying so they can rest better. It’s an American habit. They can’t help it.

    And i love how you apologized to someone in the comments here, but this isn’t the forum for any decent conversation because it’s naturally limited and inspires even angels to become trolls. I don’t think folks can help it sometimes. I think it’s hard to get truly excited or enraged by ideas, and not be able to have a good old fashioned conversation around a beer like we used to in the 80s and 90s.

    it’s all so …unnatural.

    But you’re waking to yourself as an artist and thinker, and you don’t have to please everyone; in fact, you’ll know you’re onto something the more people try to eradicate you and all you say and feel.

    you don’t even have to ANSWER anyone anymore. it’s a waste of time these days, as you’ve seen for yourself.

    I love your screed. I love your terms like “sport-fucking” and screw the “feminists” and all the other “–ists” people who try to shut up what you’re really and truly saying. You’re actually the one expecting MORE of the kardashian girl than she’s willing to give, so when people act like whores, you get to call ’em on it.

    and the fucking feminists? don’t get me started on us women and our fucking NEEDS.

    what i heard in your post was the most public about-face of a man who thought he was doing something beautiful and had an existential crisis that is actually being shared by MANY.

    there is nothing to argue with you about here, or to be angry with you for. i heard your pain and horror. fuck everyone else and anyone else.

    this is YOUR work, your writing, YOUR thoughts. and thank you for passionately and unapologetically putting them down without feeling like you’ve gotta insert some bullshit happy ending like everyone who gets published feels they must, now.

    everyone sandwiches their existential crises like a fucking corporate memo: “sandwich the bad news with an opening and closing compliment.” you can’t escape the crap.

    so thank you. fuck everyone else. rage and pain can’t apologize for putting its elbows on the table anymore.

    we’re beyond that. as you see.

    i’ve no answer. no one does. anyone who thinks he does is jim jones.

    but your next step is cut out for you. more of this and apologizing LESS. you’ll never have a loss for anything to write about that’s for sure.

    the more you say what you really and truly think and feel (with LOVE, of course, even when it’s enraged), you never, ever know what’s gonna happen out there in real life.

    you could end up face down with a smattering of cops at your backside. hell, i’m almost fifty and just for dancing outside in the sun, the cops get called EVERY TIME. because i look young enough to “scare” all the white people san francisco now.

    say what you must and apologize later if you want. but don’t watch your words too much; they are necessary NOW. THAT is what you can do. a lot of us writers and activists are too broke to make it out there anymore. i am. i quit. fuck it.

    it’s beyond “feminists” or “gay rights” now. it’s terminator shit here and now. humanity against the machines.

    be human. and the RIGHT people will forgive you. will understand. because they’re careening too, and when you careen, you get turrets at times.

    it’s what you DO. how you ACT.

    you cried over mutilated children first thing in the morning.

    i’m learning all you guys are fucking SWEETHEARTS and i’m ashamed that i never saw you guys when i was too busy being a “feminist” and demanding that you hold open the door while reading my mind.

    we women are insane. my roommate tried to online date and “feminism”? ay. it has totally lost its way when “choice” really has become whether to pole dance or hook through college for “fun.”

    who’s the asshole?

    you’re doing just fine. fuck everyone else.

    for now.

    (smile)

    but that’s the art conundrum. you have to tell people to fuck off to get yourself, and thus, THEM and us all.

    i’ve no answer.

    i can’t even get a minimum wage job in this new tech slavery economy here.

    erika lopez (san francisco)

  7. erikalopez says:

    P.S. the person on here who said they end their visits with friends who get distracted and itchy for their phones–I love that! I have a rule for friends who want to visit: when you’re with me, no phone at all.

    and new friends i tell them the same thing. my circle is tiny small, but sweet and intense as hell. it’s worth weeding out the districted detritus for the truly good stuff.

  8. junoon says:

    There isn’t a lot of writing that I like to come back to over and over again – and even less writing that makes me laugh with, seethe with, and feel (with?) so completely. So first off, thanks for the engaging post.

    You make some excellent points…and beautifully encapsulate the times we live in, the attitudes we inadvertently carry with us, and the general ennui around us. I’m not even sure if it’s ennui, actually. But we listlessly carry on, sometimes with no reason to.

    I realise you’re ranting at no one in particular, and that may be the reason why this post is getting shared so much on social media. You’re not ranting at anyone or pointing fingers at any specific organisation, but you’re saying things that many, many, many of us have thought or felt at some time (or all the time) and you’ve given a very articulate shape to some very random musings.

    Your words are thoroughly enjoyable and yet so true. Thanks!

  9. mkhyc10 says:

    “my circle is tiny small, but sweet and intense as hell. it’s worth weeding out the districted detritus for the truly good stuff.”

    That might have summarized my entire point just more eloquently (and far less verbose!) 🙂

  10. cosmicnick says:

    Josh… I read every word of what you wrote, and I understand the… what is it? That strange place where desperation and frustration meet.

    For what it is worth, I’m a person happily without hope. I’m assuming based on your skills that you understand mathematics fairly well. If you chart the population growth of any species, we are heading towards that apocalypse you have identified with little chance for hitting the breaks. Population growth is exponential, and all of these many problems we see in the world, in my ever humble opinion, are merely symptoms of the fact that we are growing at a rate our environment cannot sustain. Short of a massive population reduction from a plague or spontaneous infertility, we are on a path for mutually certain destruction, regardless of how the pains of the world make us feel.

    It was once said that every man is going to find himself in a battle he cannot win. He will try his hardest, he will do his best, and he will lose. What makes him a man is that he does not lose himself in that battle. (and please forgive me for taking that quote from Friday Night Lights).

    There is hardship and pain and suffering all around us… and we are headed to our end as a species unless we reverse our reproduction pattern, which I imagine to be impossible for all life. But you don’t have to lose yourself. You can write, perform, create, and as you quoted earlier, Rage, Rage, Rage against the dying of the light. The world gets worse for humans as time goes by because we destroy more and more of our world simply by living. When has the future ever looked better than the past?

    I wish you all the best… we all have our own journey on the way to our species end, and I hope you find peace as our light goes out.

    Nick

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  12. sarahfriday says:

    My favorite part of this is the “We should tribe up” part. YES. This is at least part of what is missing for so many of us. Technology has given us the ability to form a very precise kind of tribe, of just the people with whom we most relate, but they tend to disperse across the country and the world. So many of us are left without a local “tribe” that really supports us. I am so intrigued by the value of and the yearning for tribe…. it’s more defined than community, more intimate, more immediate, more personal. Honestly, I have a bad habit of speed reading/skimming things, so I just grabbed that ONE phrase or gist out of what you wrote, because it made absolute sense to me.

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  14. pmays says:

    This is great. Thanks for articulating how I feel often. Nice not to feel alone in these thought. Shared for the hopefully like-minded.

  15. 5moke says:

    The Story of Your Enslavement, follow pretty much the same views and I must agree. This world is going up in flames, and we’re doing shit about it. 😐

  16. Llurendt says:

    You know, in the last few years I’ve learned that what everyonesanocean says toward the end is true. Paying attention to the way you speak and think about things can make a large difference in how you view the world. This in turn can help you feel better about yourself and the world in general.

    A thought on the subject of tribes: Living as a group, in strictly financial terms, is far easier than living on your own. Each person becomes responsible for a smaller portion of the costs of living when a home, and all the things that go with it (utility bills, food, etc.), are shared. The issue that has to be resolved for a tribe to be successful is whether the people can remain civil or even loving toward one another. You have to select the members of your tribe carefully and decide as a group to accept the faults of the members as well as to make the attempt to rectify wrongs quickly. Without that discussion, you run the risk of insurmountable conflict occurring, leading to schism within the group. Overall, I feel that having a tribe is absolutely the way to go, but you just have to be careful and ensure everyone has a complete understanding of what it means to be a part of the tribe.

  17. rsd-17 says:

    Damn you! I came here looking for answers, and all I read is the story of my life, more eloquently put than I could manage. Things are going to be much worse before they get better. I just hope my genes are still being propagated after the big extinction event brought on by my species. And the worst thing of all is I haven’t done much “sport fucking” in my worthless life.

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  19. Zenlife says:

    Dear Josh, Thank you for this, but as you said, it doesn’t deliver us with answers. I understand your frustration and have, in the past, felt it too. The world, from this perspectives seems like a sad, gloomy place, but there is no need for us to be cynical. In reality, despite of all the sad pathetic things we observe are happening, our success, our happiness, our purpose or our life dreams and goals are independent of our society’s state of affairs; it is ours and ours alone to achieve, experience, steer and develop and to manage.

    The answers you seek are provided in the book ‘Our X Factor’ Our X Factor: The power to achieve–every day–success and happiness (http://www.OurXFactor.com) release last week, July 25, 2014, spells out your options and the choices you can make. It helps you focus on what matters to YOU, and make the best out of each day you are provided to do something that is meaningful to you and will help you achieve your success and grant you happiness. Of course, as you said, being aware of all the things that happen around the world and knowing more about the conflicts that keep us divided in countless ways, don’t really matter much. However, understanding how we, as humans, operate is an essential awareness component. Read up on Maslow to understand how we achieve self-fulfillment or the Dalai Lama (or Steve Jobs) on how to reach enlightenment (both quoted in this context in the book). However, it is important that we keep it real and practical, and that is what this book does. Furthermore, this book, in a separate part, suggests how we can relate with the world–the way it is–and how we can impact it, each in our very own way and grow and guide that through our unique perspectives that we fold into our purpose–by creating the things how we want them to be. The third and last part of this book helps each of us define for ourselves what success and happiness mean to us, and what we can do each day to optimize both how we feel–happiness–and what we accomplished towards meeting our goals–success.

    It’s okay to be frustrated, it’s okay not to know the answers, it’s okay to feel anxious about not knowing what type of society awaits us in 1, 5 10, 50 years from now. What is not okay, is not to do anything about it.

    This book shows you how to move past that, guide you to be the best you can be, and cease every day the opportunity to achieve something good and be happy.

    Finally, there is an old Chinese proverb that says: give a man a fish, and he will have food for a day; teach him how to fish and he has food for his lifetime. (I quote it as it also appears in the book)

    Similarly, the overarching point of the book, ultimately, is for us, as a society, to move past all the ludicrous things, the sensationalism, the mimicry, the fads, the fashions, the rudeness, the gratuitous violence, the lame excuses, the lack of ambition and superior ideals, and the abandonment of hope and faith that the world can BE a better place, and start focusing on what each can contribute of his/her own accord, that will improve our world and, all the while, give us access to our individual success and happiness. Once more and more people will understand how to achieve that which is (should be) most relevant to them and important to their lives (their success and happiness), there will be less of the behaviors, indulgences, relating to the ephemeral and empty fads that we think make us cool, dividing, finger-pointing, recriminating, etc.. And those who don’t change, don’t really affect us. Let’s not be arrogant, point fingers and accuse (E. Zola), but show to others, beginning with those dearest to us, how it is done. That is how we keep our hope for a better world alive, that is how we progressively move society towards peace and acceptance, and that is how we will keep people from thinking that we need an apocalypse.

    An X Factor is a quality that gives those who have it the ability to achieve at extraordinary levels of performance, awe inspiring, unique and outstanding.

    We all have an X Factor. The challenge is to find that to which each of us can apply that special quality. ‘Our X Factor’ provides that answer.

    For that and more answers, or how to order the book (available everywhere), visit the book’s web page or for more information, blogs, news, APPs and support, follow it’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OurXFactor

    Thanks for reading. Wishing you, Josh, and all your loyal readers much Success and Happiness. Be sure to keep us in the loop regarding your special perspectives by providing us with more of your reports. XV

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  21. mkhyc10 says:

    I’m not sure what this yearning for ‘tribe’ is all about. Belonging to something, finding like-minded individuals, knowing you are among other people who don’t worship the Kardashians is great. But tribes? Look at all the mess in the world happening because of tribes and tribal instincts. America was founded on the very notion that the individual does not serve the tribe, the state, the religion. Once you serve a tribe you stop serving your own values. What is so wrong about ‘your tribe’, the people you related to, being dispersed geographically?

    A person I know put what I hope you mean by ‘tribe’ the best; she said there are two kinds of families; biological families and logical families. I like that concept far better than ‘tribe’; it speaks to choosing people that reflect your values and who choose to support and love you because they value you and your values, not because they have to (family, tribe).

  22. drooog says:

    ‘Me too’ is about all I can muster right now :-/

  23. Llurendt says:

    I guess we have to decide what we mean when we say tribe. In the past, it meant (roughly) the extended family you were born in to.

    When I speak of tribe, it is probably closer to that logical family your friend described; a group of people whom you select because they share similar values and goals and who love and support you for who you are. This ‘tribe’ can include blood relatives, but often will include people outside that ring.

    I like the word ‘tribe’, however, because it conveys a sense of closeness and responsibility for the other members. Not that you necessarily have to serve the unit before yourself, but that to some degree, you wish to keep the unit whole, and so you put more effort into retaining cohesiveness when compared to anyone outside the ‘tribe’.

    As far as geographical separation… That used to be a non-issue for me. It is becoming more and more necessary for me personally to retain friends and family that are near me. The more often you see people, the easier it is to keep them at the forefront of your mind. I think having children is what changed things for me; with children, I spend a LOT less time on the computer and on my phone, so I get less interaction with those long-distance friends and we’ve grown apart.

  24. Dollhead Flotilla says:

    To Josh: I get how insidious marketing and advertising is, and I don’t care. No matter how shitty it is to sell poison and mind-rot by the tonne, where is that ghost lurking? Is he under the bed? Floating just a little way over your lefthand shoulder? Has he made it into your wallet? You’ve made the mistake of participating in a discussion with a shitbag. Somebody is standing on a soapbox selling snake oils and you won’t have it. Why not? To an intelligent person like yourself what kind of power does this person have? None. Yet you see that somehow this figure of ash and dust does hold some sway over other people, and you yell “don’t listen, don’t listen!” and suddenly you have given substance to the spectre. And you’re haunted. And more importantly, you are divided. You wouldn’t make a foolish attempt to hydrate with Pepsi Cola rather than water because you know that the body doesn’t work so good on the soda, yet you care so deeply that there is a force out there that is so weak and useless that it has had no sway on your own decisions. It seems silly to me. Steal my information. Get at it with the most underhanded practices. Use it to tell me that Santa Claus is real in the way best suited for my consumption. I’ll grab the popcorn. This should be good. I am a largely untroubled person. I have figured something out over the years. Ideals are great for paper but not for the world. There’s going to be something like “evil” out there, forever. Somehow it’s inherent. I give the utmost benefit of the doubt and see it as an oppressing confusion rather than any actual mythic force of wrong. And fuck, brother, there’s going to be differences in intelligence. And let’s call it differences in the actual exercise of intelligence. You’re not going to sell me much I don’t see to be practical, necessary, affordable, healthy. See, while I do care about my choices, this kind of caring doesn’t hurt. Do I want people to make similar choices? Sure, but why aren’t they making them for themselves? Why are they trickable? Why does there appear to be a deficit in the use of the faculty for discernment? These questions only describe the differences between people inherent to a natural order. Now, there is a fine line – the thinnest of lines – in which there is the room to learn, grow, and change, and so also to teach. But it’s subtle. And it’s also the place where wholesome, enjoyable existence resides. This is where I want to make my point. We don’t need to take on the world. And we don’t need to fight. We simply need to be who we are – perhaps better said – to be who and what we want. Those shadowy giants are just that – shadows, unsubstantial, ready to fall apart the second we look away from them. It doesn’t take rage, being fed up, a “stand” to be made. It takes individuals being healthy for health’s sake. Voting with your dollar, not even intentionally, do you see? If your choices are sound and good where money is involved, you vote with your dollar without even having to imagine the ghosts over your shoulder falling apart. Continue writing the good word, but do it for its own sake. Conflict creates conflict. I hate that it sounds glib but it is a simply stated truth about the way things really work. I know how easy it is to feel like there are puppet strings wrapping the up globe like a ball of yarn. I would ask that you look for them in real life. See if you could trip on one. The belief in them is a participation, an active choice. I hope you can glean something from this that helps.

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  30. nicedee says:

    Beautifully written… It feels like you jumped inside my brain & put all my thoughts into this. I have been feeling this for years… Thank you for sharing, the world needs this

  31. rcb says:

    Maybe the y2k bug really did bring about the end of the world, and it’s slowly dawning on us that we’ve all been stuck in this dim, horrifying vision of Hades ever since.

  32. January says:

    My fiancee said he read your post, and decided not to share it with me, for fear of rocking the boat and kicking off another bout of depression. My friend Wendy however, did decide to share it with me, to show me I’m not alone in the ways that I think.

    On the one hand, I find it comforting that I’m not alone in how I spin out on the never ending ways that our world is completely fucked and fucked up. My ever expanding awareness of how broken and irreparable most aspects of our society and it’s systems and our environment are vs my awareness that it’s almost all completely out of my ability to effect any real change, breeds crippling bouts of depression for me. My existential crisis began at age 8, and has never really gotten better, or lighter, just darker and deeper.

    On the other hand, I spend a lot of time and energy trying to redirect my focus onto things that I can change, and areas where I can make some sort of positive impact. I constantly struggle to suppress the depressing pessimism that is at the core of my personality. So reading the thoughts of others like me in this sense doesn’t actually do (me, or those close to me whom I impact with my emotional states) much good that is useful towards my personal goals of constructing some sense of happiness, and some sense of inner peace in this lifetime. In fact connecting with other people in this area of thought usually derails any recent progress I may have scraped together towards that end goal.

    I quit watching the news on tv before 9/11, to try and create a buffer between myself and the constant negativity of news stations, in favor of reading my news online or in the paper. Words typed onto a webpage still hurt, but sometimes gave me the pause I needed to not be overwhelmed. Sometimes.

    I stopped subscribing to a newspaper in 2007 after an article about an arsonist torching ancient Joshua trees arrived unexpectedly on page 2, and set me spiraling downwards and back into bed for a week. I can’t deal with the randomness of how despair is dished out in communication, without any sort of warnings. But I suppose that is representative of life. After clicking on this link from my “friend” I may actually just give up on email and texting.. for awhile.

    I know I feel things a bit too sharply, a bit too deeply, and that our world is just fucked. Most days I can overcome that. Lately I’ve gotten better at finding the bits of light that shine through the thick darkness. Sometimes. Right now though, I’m more in favor of an icepick lobotomy.

    So thanks for so clearly expressing the feelings I call The Abyss. I think. And Wendy, thanks for sideswiping me emotionally by sending me this. Talk to you in a week.

  33. Roger B77 says:

    Y’all need to get yourselves to a Rainbow Gathering…. preferably a national, but in the meantime a good regional will do.

  34. Roger B77 says:

    ^^^^ That includes you Josh.

  35. mindsight says:

    Dear Josh, There’s many salient points here. If I can offer a bit of hope: welcome balance, hope is coming in new areas of neuroscience and personal medicine; check out neurofeedback, it will change perceived limitations. For activism, check out the Gary Null Show – progressive radio, also found on Stitcher Radio. 35 million listeners every week, a bigger subscription than many cable news shows.

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  37. ClaudiaHallChristian says:

    So it kind of cracked me up that I needed to login to comment on this post about the failure of modern structure and it’s effects on people.

    Then, of course, I went through the “missing password”,”the mistyped password”, the “you don’t have an account here”, the “register an account”, the “missing password (again)”, the “mistyped password (again)”…

    Until I realized that this was, in fact, the point.

    The world presents us a promise, held out there like a water lily on the hand of Siddhartha himself. When I reach for the promise, in this case the chance to talk about something I care about, I get disappointed with a side of irritation and a liberal spray — like an exploding bottle of rotten ketchup — of “you didn’t do it right.”

    If I persevere, then maybe, just maybe, I’ll write something that will open me up to a billion horny old guys leering at my Facebook page or telling me what a horrible human being I am and that my mother should have had an abortion (a feeling she shares), all because I wrote a comment or quite possibly that I misplaced a comma. (F-you comma, you know your place!)

    By now, I’m just exhausted. I forget all about my expectation and the promise of connection only to wander off.

    Well played Josh Ellis. Your comments section presents the life situation you’re writing about. Well played.

    Now, if I can figure out the Captcha, I’ll actually able to post this.

    One. can. dream.

  38. Zenlife says:

    Josh, What happened to moderating my reply from 8/8, my friend? I referred in my post to an information source that contains the answers you seek… are you checking it or vetoing it? I hope you maintain the forum open for a fair and democratic debate. Regards, Zenlife

  39. admin says:

    Zenlife: ??? I’ll look through the comments moderation and see if it got caught there somehow — I don’t manually moderate stuff here, but WordPress might’ve thought it was spam and caught it.

    Claudia: Sorry about that. I turned on registration for comments a long time ago, when I was a newspaper columnist and people would show up here saying really horrifying and sometimes threatening shit. It’s amazing what people will say when they think they’re anonymous.

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  41. future99 says:

    Ditto to erika lopez. Right on Josh — from a feminist, mother, and nonprofit worker — who has one foot stuck in with the boomer generation and one foot in with Gen X, guilty of producing millenials. It IS funny how I had to log in to comment — giving up yet more data about “me” to engage with something I believe in. We are all part of the machine and it’s hard to escape it but we can “stop letting them do it” through expression, doing simple kind things as humans for other humans, attempting change on a larger scale, or even ranting from time to time. Sometimes I feel we live in a mind boggling unique and hopeless age. We are losing sight of how to be good humans. Other times, I remind myself the world was always f#%&* had little hope for a good future. Self-discipline — something I am still learning at age 51. Don’t check feeds when you wake up. Sit on your back deck and breathe. Don’t put your head on the sand, but do commune with nature, get your heart rate up, sweat, and be kind and generous. It may not change the world one iota, but it will help you to keep your sanity and give you the energy and strength 0f mind to carry on.

  42. AndreC says:

    Hi Josh. I know how you feel. I was born in 1975 and have felt the hurt, confusion, and anger at the injustice of it all at various times in my life. The thing that has helped me the most is learning how to get out of my head a little. It’s easy to drive yourself crazy when you start thinking about all the negative crap about the world. But none of it is truly real. Nothing is real beyond the moment you’re in right now, and how you’re responding to it. The future, the past, our thoughts about those things–they’re like “the matrix” — seductive illusions that can only entice us away from where we are right here, right now.

    I know that none of this solves any of the problems you describe. Honestly, I think you’re right in that coming together; finding ways to cooperate with each other; is the only way we’re going to get through the crisis facing all of us right now.

    But the first step is to heal–because it’s very difficult to find the strength to reach out to others, or to have any hope at all, until you can find a way to feel better. There’s lots of things you can do. One thing is to actively look for the good things in the world. It’s a habit you have to build; and it takes effort, but search for them every day. Try to find three things about each day to be grateful for. Write them in a journal, or here on your blog. I know it sounds trite, but it works. At least, just try it for a week and see how you feel.

    Another thing you can try is mindfulness, or some sort of non-verbal art–like playing an instrument, carpentry, tai chi, painting–heck, you don’t even have to paint masterpieces; there’s a meditation in painting a fence. Just find something that keeps you present, where your mind can’t wander away from the here and now. Here and now–that’s where your power to change the world lies.

    And be careful what you think: your thoughts become habits, habitual thoughts become beliefs, and your beliefs can shape your perceptions (look up “Selective Attention Test” or “The Monkey Business Illusion” on YouTube for examples of how narrow our attention really is–and how our experiences can be shaped/coloured by beliefs and circumstances).

    Anyway, there is hope. You don’t have to fix the world by yourself. Just find a way to heal yourself, and as each of us does that, we’ll little by little find a way to come together and heal the world.

    Just the other day, I saw a video of Australian commuters tipping a subway car so a man could free his trapped leg. They each just did what little they could, and together, they saved his life. We can do it. We’re all pushing on that train–and the man with his leg caught, that’s us too. We can do it! We’re with you, Josh. You’re not alone.

  43. jennnq says:

    I feel that others have already said what I want to say to you far better than I can. As a writer, I am an awe of your fantastic, haunting, evocative writing. As a lost-feeling thirty-something, I can feel a lump welling up in my throat. All I can say is, you really hit the nail on the head on a lot of issues, and what you say really resonates with me. I definitely have a hard time with the horrific juxtaposition of modern terrors happening right now in other parts of the world and the mundane “ho-hum” acceptance of our ordinary lives.

    I wish I had better words to respond to this. This is so well-written, so heart-wrenching, and so real. It can feel like your best defence in this world is just to be a complete moron! (And OH GOD as someone who loves music, I have to heartily agree. I thought I knew what shlock was. The past decade has shown me otherwise.)

    I wish I had clear answers for hope. I want to get away from my technology, but it seems really difficult. I’m not just whining here. Every job or educational course I’ve taken in recent years all-out requires constant connectivity, planning and socializing through Facebook. You shoot yourself in the foot if you reject it at all. You have to buy in to get ahead. Your social life online is your personal branding and your marketing. No longer do you simply represent yourself with a cover letter and a resume. You have to constantly play the game. I hate it.

    I want to rage against the machine. I really want to change the world. Maybe the best hope is knowing that there are so many dissatisfied others.

  44. Pingback: Everyone I Know is Brokenhearted | Doomstead Diner

  45. Christie Hinrichs says:

    Josh, I’ve never commented on a blog before. But reading your post this morning (link from Facebook, ironically) really struck a cord with me, and I want to thank you for articulating exactly what I’ve been feeling for so long. As a writer myself, I know how pointless it can all seem sometimes. But what you wrote has made a difference for me. And I’m very grateful. Sending you tribe vibes today.

    Cheers, Christie

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  47. adnanshamsi says:

    Thanks for your post. I have shared it widely. …and now we know that even a guy like Robin Williams was Broken-Hearted…

  48. Zenlife says:

    Dear Josh,

    Thank you for this, but as you said, it doesn’t deliver us with answers. I understand your frustration and have, in the past, felt it too. The world, from this perspectives seems like a sad, gloomy place, but there is no need for us to be cynical. In reality, despite of all the sad pathetic things we observe are happening, our success, our happiness, our purpose or our life dreams and goals are independent of our society’s state of affairs; it is ours and ours alone to achieve, experience, steer and develop and to manage.

    The answers you seek are provided in the book ‘Our X Factor’: The power to achieve–every day–success and happiness, released last week, July 25, 2014, spells out your options and the choices you can make.

    This book helps you focus on what matters to YOU, and make the best out of each day you are provided to do something that is meaningful to you and will help you achieve your success and grant you happiness. Of course, as you said, being aware of all the things that happen around the world and knowing more about the conflicts that keep us divided in countless ways, don’t really matter much. However, understanding how we, as humans, operate is an essential awareness component. Read up on Maslow to understand how we achieve self-fulfillment or the Dalai Lama (or Steve Jobs) on how to reach enlightenment (both quoted in this context in the book). However, it is important that we keep it real and practical, and that is what this book does. Furthermore, this book, in a separate part, suggests how we can relate with the world–the way it is–and how we can impact it, each in our very own way and grow and guide that through our unique perspectives that we fold into our purpose–by creating the things how we want them to be. The third and last part of this book helps each of us define for ourselves what success and happiness mean to us, and what we can do each day to optimize both how we feel–happiness–and what we accomplished towards meeting our goals–success.

    It’s okay to be frustrated, it’s okay not to know the answers, it’s okay to feel anxious about not knowing what type of society awaits us in 1, 5 10, 50 years from now. What is not okay, is not to do anything about it. This book shows you how to move past that, guide you to be the best you can be, and cease every day the opportunity to achieve something good and be happy. Finally, there is an old Chinese proverb that says: give a man a fish, and he will have food for a day; teach him how to fish and he has food for his lifetime. (I quote it as it also appears in the book) Similarly, the overarching point of the book, ultimately, is for us, as a society, to move past all the ludicrous things, the sensationalism, the mimicry, the fads, the fashions, the rudeness, the gratuitous violence, the lame excuses, the lack of ambition and superior ideals, and the abandonment of hope and faith that the world can BE a better place, and start focusing on what each can contribute of his/her own accord, that will improve our world and, all the while, give us access to our individual success and happiness. Once more and more people will understand how to achieve that which is (should be) most relevant to them and important to their lives (their success and happiness), there will be less of the behaviors, indulgences, relating to the ephemeral and empty fads that we think make us cool, dividing, finger-pointing, recriminating, etc.. And those who don’t change, don’t really affect us. Let’s not be arrogant, point fingers and accuse (E. Zola), but show to others, beginning with those dearest to us, how it is done. That is how we keep our hope for a better world alive, that is how we progressively move society towards peace and acceptance, and that is how we will keep people from thinking that we need an apocalypse.

    An X Factor is a quality that gives those who have it the ability to achieve at extraordinary levels of performance, awe inspiring, unique and outstanding.

    We all have an X Factor. The challenge is to find that to which each of us can apply that special quality. This book provides that answer. For that and more answers, or how to order the book (available everywhere), visit the book’s web page or for more information, blogs, news, APPs and support, follow it’s Facebook page.

    Thanks for reading. Wishing you, Josh, and all your loyal readers much Success and Happiness. Be sure to keep us in the loop regarding your special perspectives by providing us with more of your reports. XV

  49. ThatCrystalWolf says:

    Me too.

    HUGS

    Refusing to sell a damned thing, Crys

  50. bhecker129 says:

    Amazing post. I’ve been feeling this as well recently. Thank you for sharing. It helps to know that I’m not alone with the sentiment you shared. For all of us looking for a remedy, don’t skip past Dollhead Flotilla’s response. A brilliant paradigm shift.

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