Generation Z

Why Young Lives are Losing Meaning and Purpose I

By M.K. Styllinski

“Young adults are facing more stressful conditions than older generations, such as an increasingly competitive labor market, rising costs of housing, an increase in higher education costs, and issues of self-identity and confidence driven by more widespread use of social media.”

— Morag Henderson, sociologist at University College London


Reading time: (25-30 mins)

The crisis of meaning and purpose is something many of us are grappling with today. Girls and boys and young adults in particular are not succeeding in this battle. The path which defines our lives up to middle and retirement age is for the majority, mostly a constellation of conditioned responses encouraged by Official Culture. It replaces true meaning with a role that serves the technosphere as opposed to our true calling. Not always, but all too frequently. Then we are back to that existential crisis of youth where something deep inside knows that to find true creative balance takes a life time of struggle against forces that oppose any kind of spiritual liberation. Unless that is, we have the support to explore the transformation that comes knocking at the door of consciousness at various stages of our lives. To even have the awareness to heed that call requires a very different society than we have now.

Life is extremely complicated for young people these days, whether they are in Western, Asian, African or Middle Eastern societies. The predisposition of tyranny from our hierarchical institutions and social systems means that such a danger will always be there, even when there is momentum toward autopoietic * social innovations. The imbalance inherent within state authority and the unceasing drive of so many to live outside it’s influence is growing. This is a welcome reaction against the finite and unsustainable nature of cartel capitalism and rampant state-sponsored crimes against humanity. But we haven’t yet found that crucial tension, that balance that provides a psychological inoculation against psychopathic infiltration which so often turns civilisations into crucibles of centralised control.

The corruption of hierarchical power always weakens the structure to the point of catastrophic failure. And there are always young folks who act as literal and symbolic precursors to that descent, usually by embodying those ills and thereby showing us what long term or immediate future lies ahead. Each epoch manifests that see-saw between managed chaos and mass creativity which eventually bursts forth in destructive ways, sweeping away everything that went before.  Children and young adults are the tuning fork of future generations in this regard. Nonetheless, there is has been a very wide historical berth when it comes to defining how our youth interact with the world. The older generations have a distinct challenge to make sure our younger generations are correctly tuned to that which offers hope, spiritual strength and resilience to face what is certain to be an unpredictable and challenging future.

But let’s rewind for a moment…

Take Medieval England for example. During that time the majority of medieval people were young with far fewer older people with around thirty-five to forty percent under fifteen years old. There was a distinct and recognised period where the early formative years were largely employed for utilitarian ends. If there were not distinct roles then the family didn’t survive. As a result, the Church law and common law regarded children as equal to adults in many ways. Parenting was just as important and often imbued with strict moral and community-based values inspired by the Church and folklore. Though play was a vital part of growing up and of far greater importance than today, if a child was unprepared for the realities of what was a rather brutal world, it meant that the longevity of the family would be weakened as would the life of the child. Conscientiousness in one’s work had to be learned early on as it was quite often a life and death situation. [1]

The ubiquity of young folks meant there were major social differences in every community and sphere of activity. A feudal hierarchy of industry meant clearly defined roles with a narrow band of what could constitute freedom from our perspective today. It also meant that on average, there was seventeen years’ less experience of life to draw on and very few elders and betters that children had to go to for advice. This high proportion of young people experienced a violent, feudal world which saw hand-to-hand combat; brutality passing for entertainment; state sanctioned slavery and appalling daily health hazards – including periodic visitations of the plague – as the backdrop to their lives. Medieval boys for example, had what amounts to a man’s job from the age of seven and could have his wee hand chopped off if he decided to pinch some fruit from a market stall. If he graduated to a more audacious deed like stealing a hairpin or a Lord’s hat, he could be hanged by his doubtless scrawny neck. Boys could legally marry at aged fourteen and were considered ready to fight in the King’s army. Those born into the nobleman’s life or royalty had material comforts but a different level of responsibility. For example, Prince Edward, at just sixteen years old was in command of whole battalion.

Not a lot of leeway for a “safe space” in that milieu.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and The Loss of Free Speech VI: The Jekyll & Hyde of Social Media (2)

“It is no longer possible to stand up for all speech.”

Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s vice president of public policy and communications for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

***

“The First Amendment doesn’t protect a user’s speech on a private company’s site. On the contrary, the First Amendment protects Facebook’s right to say what can appear on its platform.”

— Jack Smith, Business Insider


Whether we have our faces glued to the smartphone in the street or feverishly checking our Twitter and Facebook accounts on our lap top at work, face-to-face interaction is fast being replaced by social media, which has society built around it. These networks offer steadily diminishing returns on social investment since a large proportion is rooted in self-promotion, self-admiration and the endless noise of opinions. The latter is drawn from a long since compromised mainstream media that has the audacity to charge alternative media with propagating “fake news,” a meme expressly created by neo-Cold War strategists within the Deep State to counter the non-existent presence of Russian interference in US elections. Opinions therefore are useful for creating emotional capital  and the noise of distraction for the rest of us, so that intel agencies can continue to extract all the data they want.

Meantime, young adults are having to cope with an economic time-bomb; the legacy of poor parenting and a lack of play; minimal contact with nature and poor social skills. On top of a pervasive technology that is re-wiring the brain from easily accessible hardcore porn to virtual and highly superficial forms of exchange which, by their very nature, “optimise” and “compress” information down to soundbites. The pace of information exchange and the ratio of quantity over quality means that the highs and consequent lows are making addicts and infants out of many millennials and Generation Zer’s. The neuro-hacking of culture over the last few decades has given us a crisis in the young, now exacerbated by social media and smartphone technology. Yet, such technology is here to stay. So, can we turn it around and apply its true potential?

First, we must dig deep in order to find out what’s truly going on.

***

Facebook, more popular than Google, is now herding over 2 billion users and growing faster than any year since 2012. According to Tech Crunch the platform hasn’t lost its popularity with”66 percent of Facebook’s monthly users return each day now compared to 55 percent when it hit 1 billion.”  The social networking giant has an enormous influence on young minds and society as a whole in ways we are only just beginning to fathom.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered his new mission statement to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” This has to get the prize for the most disingenuous statement since George W. Bush claimed he was bringing freedom to Iraq. The world is getting closer together all right but we ‘ain’t holding hands. Rather, we are giving over our freedom and the very kernel of our minds to a new form of corporatism and surveillance. Analysts can barely keep up with how Facebook and other social media platforms are literally redesigning our lives and psychology.

As smartphone usage attests, there are voluminous studies indicating how social media (Facebook) is bad for your health. A family member often tells me: “Time just seems to disappear when I’m checking Facebook…It’s like I’m under a spell!” Two hours almost seem like two minutes. Yet, they frequently come away feeling exhausted rather than inspired. Why? University of Kent psychologists wrote in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that compared to general internet use Facebook and its related stimuli can lead us to underestimate time. Although general internet use has the same effect, Facebook was the  worst offender for such time distortion. The distortion of time locks us into a greater exposure to social media and internet surfing than we realise, suggesting that our mind is in a specific state of addictive suggestibility.[1] They found that it was Facebook-related images that changed how we pay attention to this visual stimuli, and likely plays a significant part in the rise of internet addiction as a whole.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and The Loss of Free Speech VI: The Jekyll & Hyde of Social Media (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.”

― Brian Solis, Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web

***

“Ignorance meets egoism, meets bad taste meets mob rule.”

Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur


The above quotations from writers Brian Solis and Andrew Keen are equally valid. Social media has already offered enormous benefits to connect, share and liberate humanity. It has revolutionised business as a marketing tool and allowed us an instantaneous global reach. Yet, technology – as everything else – always presents a choice between a Jekyll or Hyde application. Which perception and allotted values gain dominance will logically characterise how it develops. The internet and social media is still very much driven by the same pathology of Mr. Hyde that has been bludgeoning ordinary humanity into submission since the rise of the oil industry to the emergence of big data as the new oil. Consequently, Hyde is subsuming Jekyll at a faster rate with its moral character disappearing fast.

Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple surpass the national GDP of many countries and have more overt and covert control over our lives than the State – if indeed there is much difference. Monopolisation is too weak a word to describe how these companies seek to dominate our lives through the kind of advertising, marketing and data capitalisation that is literally predicting our every move. We are becoming the new algorithms in a vast simulation of global consumption and predictive analysis. This is inseparable from the National Security State and its SMART surveillance infrastructure. The new frontiers of social media are redefining communication fully enmeshed in the propaganda of eco-SMART cities of the future and the visions of the technocrats.

The 1960’s saw a genuine revolutionary spirit of inquiry and an expansion of awareness which was comprehensively hijacked by the Establishment. Now, we have the same commercialisation, consolidation, centralisation and control (the 4C’s) appearing in the 2000’s to divert and re-direct the enormous creativity present in humanity in partnership with this technology. To do so, the Establishment and its agencies must ensure that generations of young adults are suitably disconnected from perennial values and re-connected – even addicted – to technology as an end in itself; to be made to believe that their lives and their eco-SMART future is inevitable. Social media and its communication and consumer platforms are part of this agenda, about which most of us are wholly unaware.

“But I couldn’t do without my smart phone…”

And that’s how it works. Tweak society just enough so that such tools become indispensable because infrastructure, economics and commerce is built around it.  Once again, technology is not the problem, it is those with the money and mindset that determine its trajectory. The reasons why must be  understood in order to have the choice to resist such impositions. Our freedom of mind depends on it.

Before we get into the murky world that is Facebook, this somewhat lengthy post will start with the new human appendage granting entry into social media – and just about everything else – the smart phone.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and the Loss of Free Speech IV: The Narcissism Factor (2)

“…the oversensitivity of individuals today, including political correctness and microaggressions, all stem from this idea that people operating under the notion of the pristine self view you as evil because you are showing them something other than love.”

— Howard Schwartz, professor emeritus of Oakland University,


Continuing from the previous post which looked at how narcissism defines our present culture, and how it may feature in the younger generations of today. We now turn to the main sources manifesting normalised cultural and/or personality narcissism and its perpetuation.

Here are six key areas:

Parenting

We have to differentiate between cultural narcissism and the kind of abuse that comes from neglectful parents or what is called the narcissistic family. In the latter, this is a form of emotional abuse or covert narcissism sourced from one or other of the parents’ needs and desires taking precedent over the child’s. From an emotionally deficient family life the child’s sense of self is warped leading to intense shame since the expectation of a nurturing environment is absent. Psychologist Joseph Burgo describes this trauma and arrested emotional development as a result of “disappointed expectations”. When the genetic inheritance that offers a “blueprint of normality” is disrupted in the child, he knows at a deep level, that his  fundamental development has gone awry and he feels insecure and unsafe. Burgo explains: “instead of instilling a sense of beauty, an abusive or traumatic environment leaves the infant with a sense of internal defect and ugliness.” [1]

This sense of disgust and shame at the self has huge implications for the processing of feelings and social functioning. However, such covert narcissism is likely not the primary cause of the cultural narcissism we are now witnessing. There is very little empirical data to support it, whereas more modern studies show clear evidence that inflated feedback is the primary cause. In other words, the conditioning of overpraising and over-protection, where the child or infant is told over and over again that s/he is special and unique.

Telling a child that s/he is super smart and intrinsically special has been taught for several generations. Far from providing a healthy self-confidence this focus has encouraged a prince and princess syndrome; a generation of entitled, spoiled children with little defence against the objective realities of this world. Such well-intentioned coddling often results in a role reversal where the child becomes precociously “adult” and the parent reverts to child-like infantilism due to the dominance of the child’s personality – a wholly abnormal state of affairs. Far from feeling a deep-seated shame, the child genuinely believes that s/he is special and superior since it comes from a learned behaviour of entitlement – wired into the brain.

Although authoritarian parenting is most certainly not the answer, the pendulum has now swung toward the opposite extreme where indulgence misinterprets nurturing. Discipline and structure is an essential part of a child’s navigation and learning, but such an “old-fashioned” view is now shunned in favour of letting the child do and have exactly what s/he wants; where the child is constantly love-bombed with no boundaries or limits. And when the child or young adult eventually faces the real world he comes face to face with the fact that his love-cocoon, this pristine self has programmed an essential weakness in the face of life’s vicissitudes. Far from creating self-reliance and resilience this parenting creates the exact opposite, namely, a generation of “snowflakes” where all aspects of living are seen as a form of bullying and act of offence.  The capitulation of university campuses when confronted by these collective hissy fits only makes matters much worse.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and the Loss of Free Speech IV: The Narcissism Factor (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

Chuck Palahniuk


We live in a culture that promotes degrees of narcissism as though it were perfectly normal. Indeed, the core of American exceptionalism and NATO warmongering is large-scale abusive narcissism, so it is little wonder Americans are being confronted with a choice to become part of that pathology or to resist it. It is that resistance by our younger generations that may define our future.

So, are millennials inherently narcissistic? Absolutely not. In fact, the common belief that millennials and Generation Z are narcissistic by default is often sourced from older generations like the Baby Boomers [1] many of whom happily gloss over the fact that it is they who are largely responsible for the psychological conditions now surfacing in the young. Many findings are reflective of a mixed bag of societal conditioning that points to generational confusion and a loss of meaning more than any one overarching psychological condition.

Postmodernism and its viral-nihilism has a lot to do with the suffering of millennials. Similarly, clusters of narcissism may emerge in certain groups like the SWJ’s for example and other forms of radicalism, but this is quite different to labelling a whole generation as inherently narcissistic. Such a ready conclusion might even exacerbate the problem. It is more probable that they have common narcissistic traits as symptoms of Official Culture which feed into a host of other mental conditions. So, it seems the extent of this “narcissism” within the millennial generation and Generation Z is still under question, though evidence is growing that this condition is pervasive to some degree or another.

One study carried out by Joshua Grubbs, a clinical psychologist at Case Western Reserve University, millennials and BB’s and older were asked to rank generations on their narcissism.  Millennials came in at 65.3 on a 100-point narcissism scale, rating themselves as 61.4.  Grubbs’ study found that despite admitting that they had narcissistic traits they didn’t like the label of narcissist and felt it to be a “putdown.” They also, (unsurprisingly perhaps) rejected accusations of arrogance, selfishness and vanity. Yet, if we are told something often enough we may come to believe it whether this is overstated or understated. This may have an effect as they grow older.  Or as Grubbs stated: “Over time, the ‘narcissistic’ label could impact how millennials feel, their mental health (and) their attitudes about themselves and general generation.” [2]

Interestingly, it was classic narcissists that didn’t mind the diagnostic label and according to Grubb: “..there are very few of them.” He believes that it is more a case of individualism than overt narcissism, though speaking generally his study led him to conclude that: “on the whole, people of my generation probably are more narcissistic than in past generations.”

This is a real diffculty: if these generations do have a predominance of narcissism, then a constant reiteration of this label may further entrench the condition. This has been proven to be so in a variety societal milieus in my own experience from prison inmates to ethnic communities.  If you are told you are an offender often enough then you may come to believe it, especially when the inducement to remain under such a category is more compelling than constructive change, which often lacks social support. Falling back into victimhood isn’t useful either, but since that too is encouraged in our social systems we have a complex vicious circle which is sadly not broken by adopting multidisciplinary solutions.

It is also true that an entitlement complex in the millennial generation is on the rise. A University of Hampshire study found that “youngsters scored 25 percent higher than people aged 40 to 60 and 50 per cent higher than those over that age bracket.” [3] [4] Which may explain why millennials suffer increasing anxiety and stress when they don’t get their own way. It is also evident from Grubbs’ research that millennials “experience more anger, frustration and sadness over the  [narcissism] label than other generations”. The fact that it bothers them shows that the majority of millennials are not suffering from classical Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) but incorporating the traits of narcissism as opposed to full blown pathology. And Official Culture thrives on promoting narcissistic habits and values. Again, postmodernist philosophy and left-liberal politics is instilling false expectations and the stress and anxiety that comes with it; not least from a depressed market for work and job satisfaction. Match this with a socially encouraged infantilism it can only lead to the rise of a lost generation, rather than an inherently narcissistic one, though obviously these lines are very blurred.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and the Loss of Free Speech III: Millennials and Generation Z

“My life feels like a test I didn’t study for.”

– quote from a Millennial


“…if this nation has any chance of survival, of carrying its traditions deep into the 21st century, it will in no small part depend on members of my generation, Generation X, the last Americans schooled in the old manner, the last Americans that know how to fold a newspaper, take a joke, and listen to a dirty story without losing their minds … We are the last Americans to have the old-time childhood. It was coherent, hands-on, dirty, and fun.”Why Generation X Might Be Our Last, Best Hope’ By Rick Cohen, Vanity Fair

I am also part of Generation X. We experienced life without the internet, emails, cell and smart phones and navigated through different challenges and struggles, from the revolutions and socioeconomic upheavals of the 1970s; the celebrated greed of the 1980s and the structural transformations of the 1990s. The same challenges exist for today’s young adults but with many more layers of social and cultural complexity. Technology, under the direction of the social engineers is only making things worse, since it offers yet another form of addiction on top of intense political and ideological interference, all of which is channelled through these younger generations who have almost no defences against it.

I found making sense of our Official Culture immensely challenging during my twenties and early thirties manifesting as depression and panic attacks, the struggle of which took up most of my sense of self. It eventually required serious soul-searching and the confrontation of the root causes of these fears and traumas in order to move forward. I was lucky to have assistance in that endeavour even if it was a form of “tough-love” to get me to the place where a more objective perspective was possible. Such a process is deeply unpleasant; often like a form of dying as emotions are healed and the old, false self of programming and egoic survival is stripped away. This takes time, effort and a lot of patience, which is one reason why it is so assiduously avoided.

So, I have sympathy with the psychological crisis that millennials are facing and how important it is that they are given the information and assistance to turn their lives around. But it will be monumental task.

When children have been brought up to be narcissistic and entitled through no fault of their own; where society itself normalises those same qualities, young people have to attempt to navigate through such a morass of conflicting messages and superficial dross that it is no wonder they are floundering. Millennials have (literally) everything at their fingertips but wholly attached to unrealistic aims and ambitions, but detached from social skills and dynamics that would build and sustain them through the inevitable challenges they must face. In one sense, we are witnessing a re-run of the 1960s, that surge in potential awareness of what could be…This time, a genuine millennial passion is shackled by prior conditioning, an unstable  foundation that is constantly shifting beneath their feet making it all but impossible to orient themselves. They have been brought to believe themselves special; nurtured to anticipate and expect great things, but they do not have the inner resources to match the outer reality. Hence, the internal or external “hissy fit” when expectations fail to match that reality, be that from differing views or workplace demands.

When seeking to analyse and appraise younger generations and the challenges they must face, there are no doubt plenty of exceptions to this rule and a great many young adults who do not fit into the following psychological profile. Yet, it seems there are not enough, otherwise we wouldn’t be having the symptoms rising up in our youth that we do. Similarly, the following is not designed to rip apart millennials in order to feel better about my own generation. It is concerned with pin-pointing the problems in order to achieve clarity and possible solutions. The older generations have a  responsibility to assist those who come after since, as parents, we have also played a part in shaping them. With the right kind of mentoring and the right kind of knowledge, they might develop the self-awareness and life skills they need.  Building that knowledge-base will be up to them, as will  facing their fears and discovering their own higher nature and creativity within.  Our collective future depends on it.

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