Our Culture Is Abusive

Megan Wildhood
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We are so steeped in our own culture that we have no idea how high the decay is rising, the amount of loneliness, gaslighting, overworking, and medicalizing we are living with and calling normal. The idea that “you can’t care for other people unless you first take care of yourself” is becoming more and more popular. It seems like people interpret it as meaning that taking care of yourself is equivalent to caring for others, rather than self-care being one necessary but not sufficient ingredient.

Our culture has construed “maturity” on social media as shallow, air-brushed depictions of our lives. Honesty, sincerity, and raw emotions are seen as attention seeking, rude or otherwise an improper use of what we are all told is a tool for connection. If you’re too honest about being in a dark space, you are more likely to be met with a wellness check from an officer with a gun than true compassion from one of those friends or family members you log on to stay in touch with.

We’ve gotten to the point in our culture where mainstream psychology and self-help definitions of health include not needing other people, always being able to walk away, and speaking your truth whatever the cost to others. These are not markers of psychological or any other kind of health; these are gaslighting statements of the highest order. To actually live this way, you would have to be truly cut off from your own and others’ emotions as well as an understanding of your limitations, which is to say your humanness.

Our culture does not like humanness. Humanness can be fragile, weak, needy, inconsistent. This is why it’s not just a saying that we need each other: we really cannot do very much on our own and it is emotionally abusive to expect that we can and label us disordered in some way when we cannot.

Our culture has so thoroughly annihilated any accurate understanding of human being and what thriving and health look like that when I had a friend proofread this draft, she suggested I delete all references to lack of self-sufficiency as entirely a bad thing for “inaccuracy.” She is a well-educated, self-aware Millennial and she still thinks that self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal (maybe the reason she thinks this is because she’s so “well-educated”), unable to sufficiently nuance her understanding of self-sufficiency to include the problematic aspects of it.

But look around. Is our society doing well? Even before the pandemic (can you remember such a time?), loneliness was on the rise, the economy couldn’t provide for everyone’s basic needs, and deaths of despair were reaching such high levels that the overall lifespan of Americans was decreasing to the point where some speculate that my generation, the Millennials, are by some estimates the last generation expected to live longer than their parents do.

Of course, certain people are affected more by deaths of despair than others: wealthy people’s life expectancy has actually been increasing while poor people, especially poor people of color, are expected by some estimates to live up to ten years less long than their rich, white counterparts. The main reason? Economic hardship—that is, not being able to afford basic life necessities; forget about healthcare.

Since people who are on antipsychotics live 15 to 20 years fewer  than those who are not, I would imagine the rampant use of these chemicals is contributing to the decrease in estimated lifespan among the poor and people of color as well, since those populations are target markets for new diagnoses and the drugs those diagnoses are designed to “require” (for life).

Our culture works so hard to deny humanness because humanness interferes with commerce and disrupts profit flow to the owning class. Humanness entails seeking connection with others rather than relying on distant overlords who have an interest in you and your wellbeing only insofar as you remain productive.

Humanness calls for attention. To develop properly and sustain a healthy life, humans need attention. Our culture fully supports attention shaming and actively withholding attention from people who need it; it’s called “attention seeking” and we are all taught to resist or ignore people who engage in it. Humanness involves seeking what we need, and humans need attention. It is such a betrayal by our culture that it shames human beings for making their needs known—even as the self-help industry is all about teaching people to ask for what they need clearly and directly (one of many double standards our culture upholds).

Our culture gives lip service to needing each other while the actual expectation is total independence, painting lone wolves and rugged individuals as the model for health. The correct orientation to other people and relationships, our culture says, is that you should be self-sufficient enough to view them as optional. You shouldn’t need anything from anyone; whatever you feel about other people and what they can add to your life should be something you are free to choose or reject.

This is not the pinnacle of emotional or relational health at all. This is the epitome of denial: we just simply are not creatures that can reach full potential on our own. There is no “self-made” human; we cannot physically make ourselves, and we do not develop properly or stay healthy without regular interaction and closeness with other people, both those who are similar to us (we all need reassurance and validation) and those who are different (we all need our opinions and thinking challenged if we want to avoid philosophical myopia and solipsism).

Humanness is not satisfied with productivity alone; it needs to find or make meaning. Yet, we are told so often in so many ways that wanting meaningful work is unreasonable. Notice that it’s not just “wrong” or “incorrect” to want work that matters. Our culture doesn’t frame it as a mere misunderstanding. No. Those who want their work to be in some way an expression of themselves or to make a positive impact on the world in ways they care about are unreasonable for wanting meaningful work.

We will return to this preoccupation with reason and rationality later on. I realize that for most of human history, people didn’t expect to derive meaning from their work; that doesn’t convince me that it isn’t in some way damaging to spend so much of one’s life doing something that does not matter to them. Work is not the only place meaning can be found, of course; but a culture that expects so much from its workers and continues to expect more and more while offering less and less while telling workers that they are wrong or high maintenance for wanting at least some meaningful connection with their work is abusive.

Even meaningless work is harder and harder to find, though. The deaths of despair mentioned above are largely driven by economic hardship, which is compounded by a culture of atomized individualism that shames people for needing help and makes forming connections that we should be able to count on for that help damn near impossible. More and more people are having to choose between their roots and better employment, and it’s really a false choice, since it’s less and less likely that your employer will take care of you in any meaningful way if it poses even the slightest burden on them to do so.

Another way to measure the health of a culture is by how it conceptualizes power and how people who have power handle it. Power in our culture is all too often extractive rather than protective, rash rather than wise, associated with brute force and strength rather than measured judgment that takes the holistic wellbeing of those said power affects into account.

A healthy relationship to power can be described with that common saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In today’s neoliberal, late-stage capitalistic society, the opposite is true more often than not: great power is a way of avoiding responsibility. The more power one has in this culture, the easier it is to ignore problems, complaints or things you don’t like.

If you’re a psychiatrist, you have the power to diagnose any problem away, making either your failure or systemic failure the individual’s problem. It’s the ultimate externalization; the fact that one client could get a different diagnosis for each mental health professional they see makes it seem like the diagnosis an individual receives says more about the professional who made the diagnosis than the individual who now has the label.

But saying things like that, challenging the system in any way, is always construed as “part of the illness.” This is a common show of power in this culture: the ability to silence someone you have harmed by dismissing their truth with no repercussions. It only ensures your ability to continue to perpetuate harm.

One of the most prominent and yet most subtle ways our culture is abusive is the inconsistent expectation of reason and rationality. Nearly every message we get is that it is good to be reasonable; it is superior and evolved to be rational. Broadly, in our culture, reason and rationality are void of emotion, and feelings are always illogical and not to be trusted.

Psychologists may throw a client a bone and say that emotions may have, at one point, made sense, but in those cases, they are hang-ups from the past and should still be eliminated or cognitively processed into submission. Emotions are dangerous liars in this culture, and those who express them in a way that makes people in power uncomfortable are diagnosed as ill.

Similar to labeling challenges to power as symptoms of a mental illness, labeling emotions as evidence of illness is a way to ensure that those in power stay in power and the current structures stay firmly in place. It’s not even that we just expect people not to show emotion or even act on emotion—we expect people not to feel emotion if they want to be rational.

And yet, we make key exceptions to this expectation: one of the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lack of empathy (where “empathy” is, functionally, lack of affective empathy). So, basically, you’re not allowed to feel emotions or you’re diagnosably sick except in certain cases where you’re sick if you don’t show emotions.

When the main goal of power is to perpetuate itself, this is the signal that the culture isn’t interested in health and has already begun redefining health as its opposites. This is how it supports oppressive structures like the mental health industry that blames the individual for their environment that they don’t have the power to control. It’s much harder to challenge culture than it is to challenge institutions. Where is the origin of culture located? Who is/are the keeper/s of culture? Institutions, while still powerful in this culture, are concrete and thus more easily targetable.

We’ve also been living in an emotionally abusive culture for so long that we don’t even conceptualize power as possibly being good at this point. We call for the end of power, for people in power to step down, sooner than we advocate for good forms of power. It’s easier to rattle off lists of reasons why power is bad than to think of genuine ways power can be good.

We also don’t register that our culture is so emotionally abusive because we have been trained either to rank emotional abuse as less serious than physical abuse or we don’t think emotional abuse is even a real or valid thing. Of course we don’t register depriving people of their emotional needs: we are not supposed to feel emotions.

This is something we automatically perpetuate onto our children. My parents are truly wonderful people; I am honored to be their daughter and yet, even they—really, really good parents who were not perfect but authentically desired to do right by their children—could not help perpetuating the idea that emotions are to be forsaken: I inflexibly believed until I was over 30 that I would know I was an adult when I no longer had feelings. The damage one can do to one’s life by continuing to see themselves as a child in general, but especially when the reason they can’t see themselves as an adult is because they still have feelings, takes a long, long time to repair. Ask me how I know.

We need an overhaul of the emotional-treatment/mental-health industrial complex, but that doesn’t mean better interventions and expanded access. If we want this rapacious, greedy system to change or die altogether, we have to start talking about and modeling healthy, solid forms of power. Otherwise, those who have power currently will use said power in large part, to ensure they will always have it.

I don’t know how to change a culture, but it has to start with seeing it clearly for what it is: ours is deeply and unapologetically emotionally and mentally abusive.

***

Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

32 COMMENTS

  1. I think a large part of what gets passed along to the next generation is, “follow the rules, feelings are a luxury you don’t need, and you’ll be ok.” Our basic human need to be in other minds and hearts is considered old fashioned and a waste of effort in our world of competition. Somehow, we have gone past the human condition, since we are so adaptable. But we fooled ourselves, we’re really just the same, except uncomfortable, sick, violent, and other bad things.

  2. Anytime emotional and material well-being are abstracted from one another and the former is commodified it is an expression of the inherent alienation of capitalist culture. Any “care complex” which deigns to sell us back our humanity is an expression of the problem, not the solution.

    As for self reliance, the term might not really capture the problem. Must we brush one another’s teeth in order to defeat rampant capitalism?

    Still anarchy & communism both describe evolved organic stateless societies, the only difference is over how to get there. So I’m down with that.

  3. This article would qualify as a rant. While Megan’s points are all well-taken, she admits “I don’t know how to change a culture…”

    It should be noted that, besides the fact that cultures on Earth were more diverse in the past, they were also less criminal for the most part. So, someone DID know how to change cultures, and did succeed in doing so!

    The subject we are looking at has a name: ponerology. It is not a well-known subject, as the people currently “in charge” don’t want us to know how they succeeded in accomplishing what Megan describes above. Political ponerology is an interdisciplinary study of social issues primarily associated with Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski. According to Wikipedia, “A form of government interesting to ponerologists is one they have called pathocracy, in which individuals with personality disorders (especially psychopathy) occupy positions of power and influence.”

    So, since socially pathological individuals figured out how to dominate our current culture, it should be possible for saner people to learn how they did this, then invent a parallel movement that could result in the culture being returned to a more sane operating basis.

    It is always a bit excruciating to me to hear someone complain about their cultural (or personal) environment and so hear them describe the various characteristics of the sociopath as I learned them many years ago. What Megan rants against, then, is the same thing that sane beings have always ranted against: The anti-social personality. Until recently (my lifetime) we had no clue how to detect and handle such people, and repeatedly made the mistake of elevating them to positions of power due to their shrewd promises that if they were so elevated, they would handle “everything bad” in life. We have finally learned know how to detect these liars and handle them, and – in theory at least – how to remove their destructive influences from our cultures to attain a saner way of life. If we do not now learn these lessons and use this newly-gained knowledge, we are condemning ourselves to lifetimes more, if not an eternity, of the kind of suffering and abuse that Megan so ably describes above.

  4. I’ve struggled half my life thinking I was the problem first and society was the problem second… and when I almost awoke, my well-intended but manufactured education crippled me and society pulled me down with it… fortunately, I later clawed my way up and out of their quicksand.

    People are easier to control when homogenized.

    The acculturation of “them” has been going on for decades… it appears we’ve turned that “gun” on ourselves.

    People are sick of feeling doubt, shame and guilt for questioning “authorities” and for instinctively feeling nonconformist.

    Well said @Megan Wildhood, thank you very much for sharing.

    • Our society stigmatizes, and harasses people who don’t follow “normal” standards. A large part of it is you need to follow authority. If you don’t you get targeted. For me the hardest part of trying to quit psych drugs wasn’t the withdrawal. It was the the responses of the people around me. Constantly being told to take the drugs, being disrespected and borderline harassed because my choices didn’t include taking drugs made me miserable. I had quit and was doing the best I had been doing in years. The response from others was I “lacked insight” and needed to be treated more like a dog.
      I wonder if the major reason people struggle to quit psych drugs is that revealing they are doing so causes the opposite of social support. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those in authority tell a prophecy that quitting the drugs will cause a crisis. The social response to the prophecy helps cause it to happen.
      When people’s definition of support is to say “get help,” “take deadly addicting drugs”, “you lack insight because you’re mentally defective” “I’m calling the cops to forcibly hospitalize you” you really don’t have any support, you have the opposite.

      • Willoweed, what you say is both thought-provoking and very sad. I am very sorry to hear that other people treated you so bad when you wanted to come off psychiatric drugs.

        You say that revealing that one is trying to quit psych drugs “causes the opposite of social support” and all kinds of emotional violence. But when someone’s family members/friends are so toxic and cruel, can we actually say that the person does have some kind of social support as long as s/he stays on psych drugs?

        When people look down on someone and control him/her, they don’t provide any genuine social support. I think that it is much healthier to lose such a “support network” than to remain under the power of very toxic, controlling and brainwashed people.

        • Bad people can do good things. Likewise unsupportive people can in some ways at some times provide some social/emotional support. Cruel people can become crueler especially if you don’t obey them. This is why I think so many people do not tell others they have quit psych drugs. You can’t be harassed, insulted and attacked for doing something people don’t know you did.
          This type of support network isn’t healthy or beneficial emotionally. However, when it is all you have it’s not clear if leaving would be better. It is just like the abused* homemaker who if they left would end up homeless, hungry, and cold.

          *If someone giving someone brain damage is abuse than in order to avoid cognitive dissonance forcing or giving someone psych drugs is also abuse.

          • I do agree with you that even toxic people can provide some social/emotional/financial etc. support. People are complex and even toxic people can do good things (sometimes unintentionally).

            If someone is able not to tell others that they have come off psych drugs, the situation is not so bad. I assumed that you meant a much worse situation: a situation where someone is literally checking if a person “has taken their meds”. Or giving the person “their meds”.

            When someone’s family members are able to control a person’s life to such an extent, I don’t think that it can be good for anyone, even if they also provide some support. Being treated like a child is incredibly toxic. And if we assume that we can’t find any other source of emotional/social support than the person/people who control (s) us, we are being too pessimistic.

            You mention “the abused homemaker who if they left would end up homeless, hungry, and cold”. But being systematically abused can be actually much worse than being homeless, hungry and cold. It is often destroying the abused person, both mentally and physically (even if the abuse is only emotional) – and some victims of domestic violence actually end up being killed by their abusers or dying because of their injuries.

            Of course a woman who has an abusive partner may assume that her situation “is not so bad”. After all, she has a roof over her head and maybe her partner has a good income; and the partner is not abusing her all the time. But abuse has an impact on the way of thinking of abused people – many of them come to see completely abnormal situations as normal.

            People controlled and abused by their partners are never advised to simply endure the abusive situation. There is always a way out, as long as the victim is able to leave the abuser’s house or make a phone call. Being homeless is scary, but it is not as horrible as being controlled by someone until one’s death or the other person’s death. Even some children and teenagers choose to run away from home.

            If an adult person diagnosed with a mental illness thinks that their parents or partner have the right to check if they are taking “their meds” – to treat them like a naughty child until the end of their life and to literally force them to take toxic drugs which can cause irreversible damage – this means that the person sees an abusive situation as normal.

            Unfortunately, many people assume that if they are “mentally ill”, they automatically have less rights than others. Many people assume, too, that as long as their controlling parent(s) or partner is being “nice” – not physically violent, not calling them horrible names etc. – the situation is “not so bad”. In reality, being controlled and being infantilized for many years or even decades, as well as being fed toxic drugs, is extremely damaging – both mentally and physically.

    • Unfortunately there are levels of deception — the system often sets up false issues and “arguments” between groups of people to deflect attention from the true power dynamics, and to keep people divided. So it’s easy to be drawn into passionately supporting the status quo or worse while believing you’re on a mission from God. That’s not to say never take a stand, just that we need to evaluate things ever more carefully with so many agendas in play.

  5. Healing from family dysfunction/abuse in addition to abuse from a closed and hostile system is so complex and humbling, as well as clarifying. It changes one’s vision, self-perception, and how we experience ourselves emotionally, so that we are not chronically stressing ourselves out, which is what leads to deterioration in health.

    Healing from abuse shifts one’s entire life course and changes reality for the better, based on an individual’s expanded awareness along with a new set of beliefs and actions based on those new beliefs. This attracts new people, different kinds of personalities with whom we can harmonize and co-create fluidly, rather than repetition of what one is wanting to reject entirely, the old familiar. That is transformational change, from discord to harmony, and new things ripple from that, there is ease in the process, rather than perpetual conflict which will undermine the goal and create feelings of resentment.

    I believe the only way to change a culture is to change ourselves (individuals make up the culture), and that is our true nature. It is an exercise in humility which leads to confidence and trust in ourselves, from where we find our power. I sincerely believe that change starts from within, and that we be the change we want to experience in the world. We teach and learn by example, not by shaming, guilting, bullying, or strong-arming, which is one or more kinds of abuse and never effective in bringing change because it is exactly this which we want to stop in its tracks. Forcing change is to perpetuate “force,” while the “change” is merely illusory. Therein lies the mass deceit of false promises, over and over again.

    Resisting change is what leads to abusive situations because we are not allowing nature to take its course and are trying to control everything, which is impossible. Resistance to the natural flow of energy–nature–creates the experience of oppression, from which suffering is inevitable. End oppression by standing in our truth and self-regard, heal from abuse, and the world will thrive because individually we will be a bit kinder to ourselves and others from the empathy which develops out of healing. It’s a tall order and it will take a while, but it has to start somewhere, from the only place really where we have control–that is, within ourselves.

  6. Although the author of this article makes a great case that the culture is abusive, however, we must always remember that the culture is made up of many individuals and in my experience, it has been from individuals that I have experienced the most abuse. And, luckily, at times in my life, other individuals have pointed this abuse out to me. And sometimes, it has been a book, such as Robert Whittaker’ s book “Anatomy of an Epidemic” and other books, too that have pointed out this abuse. Thank you.

    • The culture of a place in part creates the individuals. We are not born with knowledge, it is taught from day one. Our society teaches that abusive behavior is not only acceptable but it’s what is expected. The vast majority of people can’t reject authority, popularity, and what they grew up with. In a sense non abusive people are abnormal; they found some way to overcome their environment and become something moral.

      • How did you learn that we are not born with knowledge? Would you be willing to consider the possibility that this is an incorrect datum? If it were found that beings arrive in this life already equipped with lots of knowledge, would that change your ideas about what factors influence human behavior?

      • We are born with knowing what feels good to us (like being fed) and what feels bad (when our needs as a pre-verbal infant are not met and we experience what can eventually be articulated as “deprivation”). So we have innate wisdom from birth to somehow communicate what we need. As an infant, whether or not what we need to survive and thrive comes to us as we ask for it, one way or another, depends entirely on the adults around us. And that is a crap shoot, big time.

        Somewhere along the line, we are taught to ignore these feelings–these natural responses in our bodies called “emotions”–and go by some other criteria, a social expectation. If not, stigma is immediately projected as a knee jerk response, I’d call it a “program,”–which is based on systemic abuse because that is based expressly on a person *not* meeting those social expecations, and everyone in an abusive and oppressive system will agree on that and try to somehow punish or ostracize that person. A lot of lies are perpetuated at this point, a web of deceipt. So it’s either you join up, or you suck and we will let you know it and make sure you feel it.

        That is pure double-binding, strong-arming oppression, and will always be false. Not being a joiner in order to stand in one’s truth is a good thing and that is humbling courage, not at all an easy feat but it is based on truth, nothing else, no mal intent. It is based on one’s true values, from the heart.

        To be belittled or maligned for it, as is what occurs in abusive systems–and which is exactly what makes it so–is to deprive a person of their individuality and personal truth, which I consider to be insidious, powerful, and potentially far-reaching abuse, and it is rampant in our society right now. It hurts everyone because valuable resources within humanity remain dormant, whereas right now we need as much creative thinking, as well as individual talent and skills, as possible.

        We seriously need to at least tolerate differences within humanity–all kinds of differences–until we can actually embrace them. Right now, differences seem to cause more fear than anything, and that is what makes me feel very sad, that people fear each other to this degree. That’s a recipe for violence, unfortunately, if we fear enough.

      • Willoweed, You state that we are not born with knowledge. I think we are not entirely sure what we are born with… However, the infant does seem to be born with at least the knowledge of who his or her mother is. He or she knows the smell of her mother, the sound of her voice and other things to pertinent to survival. How he or she learns this I don’t know. There are probably some learned or not who might know or think they know. In fact, there is probably a lot that occurs in the womb, we can not ever know. However, it seems to me, we must be born with some knowledge. If we did not have at least some knowledge prior or at birth, we may not survive. This, to me, is an excellent reason for all pregnant women to avoid all psychiatric type drugs, which, I have read sadly that these drugs have been prescribed for some. Thank you.

  7. On my comment about individual attacks of abuse, I still believe that; however, there are certain segments of our society that seem awash in the culture of abuse. I would namely note one of the most disgusting which is the psych/mental health/illness community. The author’s unfortunate experience as she was in psych drug withdrawal is a sad example. However, I have learned that very few in this world truly understand what is going on as someone is undergoing this type of drug withdrawal. And, they just don’t care. Many times, the attitude is why get off these drugs if getting off of them is causing you so much pain and anguish. I guess it might be that there are those who are terrified to leave their little “comfort zone” to even attempt to understand the pain of another. The other even more tragic prospect is “once mentally ill, always mentally ill” that some in our society have. It is a daily struggle to educate others the out and out lie of this one, considering that so, so many are diagnosed with some alleged form of “mentally illness” when they really are just “normal”—not even sick at all. But, of course there is the drugs and therapies that can really make you sick. Thank you.

  8. Great discussion all!! Continue to be enraged, engage in truth-telling and help to collectively ignite the flames within people’s bellies and foster that eminent culture shift!

    I was coming here to suggest the work and specifically the book Rebel Minds by Susan Rosenthal….when I noticed Megan Wildhood appreciates the work of Susan Rosenthal… as well, I quote: “Rebel Minds makes a superb case for why failing to imagine the end of capitalism will guarantee the end of the world” – Megan Wildhood.

    Megan’s full review of Rebel Minds by Susan Rosenthal:
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/11/rebel-minds-book-review/

    Susan has over 30 yrs. experience within the medical, mental health and educational fields and has seen up-close the lasting biopsychosoical effects brought on in-part by the dominant capitalist culture.
    Susan is also a contributing authour to MiA as well.
    https://remarxpub.com

  9. I personally love a rant. I will listen to an honest, impassioned rant any day. Ranting is “feeling” talk. But I did not find your article ranty at all. Not ranty enough. Though I like everything you say. For me, I read the word “culture” in your article as “cult” just to see if it conjured a better fit and it does. The abusive cult seems to want to control just about everything we are and make us in its own likeness. But it is a hydra with many heads when ìt speaks through the mouthpiece of the internet. People get confused and think the internet IS the cult, and that gets scary because it seems vast and full of menace and mobs who know where everybodies grandma lives. This troubles us about the cult and fills us with dread if we dont try to soften it or make it love us all. So we tune in to its announcements night and day, and a billion heads all shouting at us to change who we are and fix “the world”, a cult always wants us to mend the world, little old us, rattling with our psych meds and having breakdowns. We buy into the idea that our breakdowns are caused BY the unfixed world we have to sort out immediately by reading whole shelves of logical undigestible factual books, even when we are ill. Cults always demand we get their many books or papers or news reports. Cults demand we abandon ourselves for the greater good, which is usually a cabal at the top. But it is a falacy to think the internet IS “the world”. You are “the world” and coming away from a cult that is the hardest thing to prioritize fixing. If you are fixed you are more likely to be emotionally healthy and the emotionally well are better able, ironically, to “actually” care and “actually” save everyone else in the world, the real world, not the overwhelmingly grotesque apocalyptic horror story of the world that the million voices on the internet cult yells is real. I am not saying the real world does not have atrocious problems that demand justice and remedy. I am saying a cult often uses that to drive people to despair and shame about being just who they are. In summary I see culture as becoming a cult both dizzying and controlling, via the amplifier box of the internet every human has in their pocket, like a pocket bible or cult manifesto, updated every hour. But I see that cult as NOT the real world. The real world is just outside your window, in the sunshine and flowers and trees and emotionally healing things that dont want to control us or challenges us or throttle us with endless headachy logic and scholarly texts and studies. The real world is in the gentle rain and breezes and birds and fluffy clouds that make us better people.

    But I am new here and that is just my personal response. And before anyone rushes to pick a logic squabble over some wrong use of a fact or word, I will say I am just a weary woman….a weary weary woman.

    • I think you are on to what a lot of people are sensing nowadays but can’t put their fingers on. Maybe a feeling that you are being blamed for the state of the world?

      For example, the media, controlled by the same capitalist interests that once profited from slavery, are now lecturing poor and working class people about their “racism.” But racism an is an entrenched practice serving corporate rule, not (primarily) an “attitude”; there are sometimes ugly racist attitudes among white working class people which help perpetuate the acceptance of systemic racism, but in the end racism is enforced by the system’s guns, not inappropriate language, and serves the interests of the corporate elite of both parties (in the U.S.). White and Black working people are being deliberately pitted against one another, which in the end serves only the super-rich.

      In short, if you get the feeling that your aspirations to a free and just world are being manipulated by people with an agenda, you may just be right.

  10. “Our culture has construed “maturity” on social media as shallow, air-brushed depictions of our lives. Honesty, sincerity, and raw emotions are seen as attention seeking, rude or otherwise an improper use of what we are all told is a tool for connection.”

    Tell this to Robert Whitaker in regards to snubbing me as a journalist subject.

  11. “But look around. Is our society doing well? Even before the pandemic (can you remember such a time?), loneliness was on the rise, the economy couldn’t provide for everyone’s basic needs, and deaths of despair were reaching such high levels that the overall lifespan of Americans was decreasing to the point where some speculate that my generation, the Millennials, are by some estimates the last generation expected to live longer than their parents do.”

    This is the sad reality of identity politics. People should keep politics aside, completely, and focus on our human struggle. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter whose right or wrong, coddled or unjustly wronged, when you’re about to suffocate in your bubble because you forgot that people are imperfect and that’s why we need each other.

  12. “Our culture fully supports attention shaming and actively withholding attention from people who need it;”

    Right on! But what happens when that person is someone you don’t want to be associated with? Can you call it personal and rationalize it as an exception? What happens when the fattest loudmouth is dying because everyone hates him for being privileged?

  13. “and we do not develop properly or stay healthy without regular interaction and closeness with other people,”

    But yet again, what if such a person can’t help the fact he’s a belligerent asshole? Is it OK to make exceptions for that?

    I mean really, look at this belligerent asshole’s sport truck; https://ibb.co/Ssmm9gk 0-100 in 12 seconds. I mean, come on. He hasn’t worked a day in his life. Just suffers immensely from rejection and loneliness.

    “Where is the origin of culture located? Who is/are the keeper/s of culture? Institutions, while still powerful in this culture, are concrete and thus more easily targetable.”

    Everyone needs to take a look in the mirror, realize the bubble they are in, and break out. Unfortunately, humans judge and prioritize other humans based on their disposition.

  14. “I don’t know how to change a culture, but it has to start with seeing it clearly for what it is: ours is deeply and unapologetically emotionally and mentally abusive.”

    And that’s the hardest part to live with. If they at least own up to it, there is some sort of closure. Just let them go and move on… But everybody has to be something, feel important, live as if they are special. Humanity is “born of sin”, it’s amazing we’ve made it this far. And a tragic reality to that fact is that using and abusing people brings meaning to other people. People feel like they “matter”, so long as they are being attended to, regardless of how they are being treated.

    Banhammer in 5…4…3…2…

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