It’s the 21st century, women should get equal rights. It’s the 21st century, Netflix should be compulsory and free for all.
‘It’s the 21st century’ is probably one of the most common arrangement of words used in the 21st century – the century of information. The century that started with the rise in the number and diversity in newspaper articles and is now witnessing an even bigger number of articles on the internet everyday about anything and everything. The 21st century has just begun. We all are witnessing it; by being alive at this very moment. We are the people of 21st century. We are living in the middle of human existence. 20 centuries have passed since humans started documenting time. We don’t know how many more will pass until the wipe out of humans happen. We’ve a rich history of human existence with some mysteries here and there. We, with the help of science, also have a splendid future lined-up for the mankind which is quite obviously filled with mysteries. The fun fact being, the existence of future is a bigger mystery in itself. Although, we possess more knowledge than any other generation of humans ever has, we are still unable to demystify the mysteries of the universe. The point being that the 21st century is an interesting time to live in as any other time has been for the people living in it. Every generation of our specie has thought of themselves as the most advanced and very rightly so but in hindsight, like Jon snow, they knew nothing. All of this, like most of what we read and see, is a perspective. An opinion. An understanding of things around the person expressing the opinion or perspective or his/her understanding of the world.
Although, everyone has a unique perspective towards the society and times that he/she lives in, the perspective differs in magnanimous amounts when it comes to two individuals from different generations altogether. It’s almost as if people from different generation live different lives even after living in the same space as each other. This can be observed by taking a glance at the narratives of the 21st century by people belonging to different generations. The generation of people growing up and the one that has already grown up might have some similar thoughts but they fundamentally can not have the same narrative of things, perspective towards life and understanding of the world around them. Hence, the times that you live in becomes an important determinant in defining who you are. As a consequence, documenting the happenings of a time also becomes equally important so as to facilitate the study of history, sociology and other subjects of similar kind. This article shall also serve the purpose of documenting the happenings of this time from the author’s perspective/understanding of world.
Philosophy has always been about multiple themes; some of them being popular at some times and other being not. The most famous theme of philosophy among the generation that is growing up in these times has to be Existentialism. More than being a famous theme of philosophy, Existentialism and Existential crisis are words that are thrown around to, at the very least, sound philosophical and cool. Existentialism is a philosophy that questions the purpose and explanation of human existence. The philosophy doesn’t believe in the existence of God. This philosophy has seen a rampant rise in it’s following in last few years. It has been in existence since a long time but it has always been intellectually inaccessible to a certain extent. The inaccessibility was broken by the social media celebrities in the very near past.
Social media is a very important factor while discussing the philosophy of existentialism. In the modern understanding of existentialism, social media has played a very important role in promoting the philosophy and the modern idea of existentialism itself. The reasons for the same are primarily two. One of the very basic reason is the display of only merry and cheerful parts of one’s life on the social media; which makes sense because normal human psychology works that way. A person would always want to project his achievements instead of the downfalls. The adverse effect of this psychological behaviour can be seen on both – the consumer and the producer. The producer, by posting only positive content about himself, enters this zone with dual personality because in reality no one is as happy as they show on the social media. The loss of genuineness gets to them and they find it difficult to break apart from any of the personality to seek help for this, or for any cause for that matter. The consumers, even though aware of the faking of happiness on social media phenomenon, always believe in the updates posted by their friends on their social media and even though unknowingly, this affects them. This phenomenon is known as FOMO (Fear of missing out). Although, FOMO doesn’t directly indicate towards existentialism. The road to existential crisis from FOMO or any other kind of sadness goes through social media again. This is because the fundamental questions of existentialism as a philosophy are quite popular on social networks because of the phenomenon known as ‘meme culture’. The meme culture being highly popular amongst the youth has made the questions enter the minds of lakhs of people. Due to the high stress levels, unsatisfied lives that we live and also the fascinating nature of the questions, they have become a part of the culture. People think about it; some try to answer them but we can’t ignore them. One important fact to be noted here is that these sentences are true only for the generation that is growing up right now. The grown – ups are mostly oblivious to the concept and philosophy of existentialism.
The second reason behind social networks being the perpetrator of existentialism in the lives of most people is the flow of information. Flow of information is more often than not considered a positive characteristic but in this context – it’s negative. The social networking sites now contains information on every single thing on the planet. The range is everlasting – News (A large group of people rely on social media for getting their news), articles about social issues, updates about events, consumerist advertisements and what not. One of the many flaws in the information obtained from the internet; social media networks in particular is that the majority proportion of it is not facts. It’s either opinions or speculations. Therefore, flow of information has been now transformed into flow of opinions. Although, flow of opinions/information is a healthy exercise for a culture but it also adversely affects the young population. This is because of the presence of young teenagers in abundance on the social media. The proportion of positive to negative content on the social media is as bad as it could be. So, the young cheerful teenagers are also faced with a lot of negativity in the early days of their life. The negativity isn’t a myth. It exists, but the young ones are supposed to enjoy and remain positive until they have to face and therefore understand the real world. The negativity on social media acts as the killer of the innocence that these kids possess. The breaking of their idea of a world further pushes them towards existentialism.
The final and one of the most important theme concerning the flow of information on the social network is about the personal accounts that are posted almost daily on the social media. The kind of Facebook statuses, Instagram Posts or Snapchat stories that a person posts online builds their narratives of their own lives; or of what they think about their life. In majority of these narratives, the tone of self-depreciation is omnipresent. The dissatisfaction of people from their life is often visible in these narratives. This is a dangerous thing not only for the happiness index of the country but also for again the young teenagers on these social networking websites. This is because people from every age group have started putting out honest revelations about life at their age. Although, therapeutic for the person putting out the post, these posts serves as the basis on which the youngsters form their opinion. As an individual, one always hopes for a bigger and a better future. As a young teenager especially, you imagine your future to be entirely different than your present, not realising that your present is one of the best time in your lifetime whatsoever. However, at any age group, any of your hopes of betterment lies in the future. This is where the honest revelations from people connects with an existential crisis. Every person looks up to some people and is also looked up by some people. When someone that you look up to posts self depreciating things about his/her life, it also breaks your hopes of a better life at some levels. This leads a person to existentialism. This is because these are the times, the times when you lose hope, when you think and reflect upon life. The fundamentals questions and statements of existentialism – ‘What is the purpose of life’, ‘We all are going to die anyway’ are the statements that an individual reflects upon in such times and hence the rise of existentialism in the 21st Century.
Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes on individual existence and freedom of choice. An individual is not seen as a part of a relationship or a family or any community. Hence, an individual only thinks about himself. Since, most of the individuals reflecting upon existential statements do not get the answer to those questions for a long time. These circumstances have led to the rise of another phenomenon which is to half belong. It is a result of existential crisis plus the crushing of hopes on social media. When an individual’s hopes from future, which is the only place we have hopes from, the individual starts to feel a detachment from his routine work. Since, an individual has lost all hopes from the future, his/her ability to work hard towards making the future better will definitely suffer. The detachment and the reduction in commitment/hard work from any endeavour of an individual’s life is known as to half belong.
Although, the world has always been a difficult place, it’s now becoming worse. Achieving anything worthwhile is a struggle. Nothing comes easy. In such times, filling yourself with the motivation, self esteem and self confidence seems like the only way to keep oneself sane.