Mechanization, Melancholia, and Material Insuetude

One of the best ways of shoving something nasty down another person’s throat is to explain “things have changed.” Well, of course they have changed. If you look closely out your window, the vegetation will grow, change color, even wilt and die, sometimes to re-emerge all over again. Then, of course, we have the people who are unhappy with the way things are, so they deliberately change things. Please understand, I am not suggesting that all changes are bad. It is just that from my personal experiences, change has, often as not, meant that something I liked was going away, and something I disliked was coming about. I won’t go over the nasty and bitter exchanges, because they’re in the past.

Young people like change; they are captivated and enchanted with all of the new technology that has deliberately sought to obtain and keep their attention for as long as possible. The result is at least one generation that isn’t as happy as past generations. Three things making young people unhappy, from Psychology Today, October 6, 2022: 

1. Anxiety

I have written much on the angst today’s teens and twenty-somethings feel. Despite their random posts on Instagram, many worry over world problems because they’re exposed to them on social media. They have a higher rate of depression and anxiety than generations who were unexposed.

2. Entitlement

A second source of unhappiness is obvious. Our generation (young and old) feels more “entitled” to possessions and perks than we did in the past. When we feel entitled to something, it’s easy to feel unhappy when things don’t go our way. Today, we have more “stuff”—but we have more expectations too.


Finally, our young feel the tangible “fear of missing out.” Because they can see on their screens all that’s going on among friends, the social media posts can create unhappiness because they’re not in the middle of all the fun, all the time. This gives new meaning to the old phrase—“ignorance is bliss.”

So at least two-thirds (and that’s being kind) of this unhappiness is due to technology, such as Instagram  and social media. It seems that the young  folks are depressed because they need to be in the middle of the fun, all the time. Connect those same young people to adhere to social media followers all over the world, and somewhere, there’s a party of which they are missing out. Of course, we have the “old fogies” who aren’t jumping on board and enjoying all of the fun that the new technology has to offer, even though, as is readily demonstrated, the technology creates depression. So, grandpa, why aren’t you as unhappy as me? Why aren’t you as worried about our planet as I am? How can you be so happy when, if you looked at those small screens, you could see all of the things that you need to be happy, and then look at your life and lack of material possessions as a reason to be miserable? Why don’t you have hundreds, even thousands of “friends” with which you share your wonderful life experiences? (Note here, that ninety-five percent of those “friends” have never been met, face to face.) Why aren’t you taking pictures of that meal you’re about to consume?  Psychological manipulation might now be peaking, but I fear that there is more to come.

Social media does as it is told. Social media does everything it can to keep the young people’s eyeballs on the screen, because as long as they are looking at that screen, they are making the owners of those medias more money. “It can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with! It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it cannot and will not stop…Ever! Until you are dead!” Or no longer logging on. Even in death, the social media users live on, and on.

Many young people have already paid with their lives. One of the social media sites has “challenged” young people to steal cars, and they have done just that; along with being charged with a major felony that will follow them for at least a few decades. But that’s life outside of the wonderful social media world. Good luck getting to see those screens in prison. The fleeting fame that social media offers is just too much to resist; the desire to become an “influencer” is now a career that many young people aspire to accomplish. If it involves risking their lives, well, fame and money are worth it, and as for those who paid with their lives and freedom, well that is just the price of fame.

Those cell phones have a lot of metals most young people cannot comprehend.  Copper might be well-known, but other metals such as tellurium, lithium, cobalt, manganese, and tungsten aren’t metals often discussed.  Most of these metals come from Third-World mines, some of which are prone to use child labor. But I’m sure that our young social media addicts are aware of it, as those children mining those rare-earth metals are probably on the internet, revealing their desperate lives, aren’t they?  I guess I must have missed all of the young people who very publicly refused to buy a new device until it was proven that the rare earths were sustainably extracted from the earth, and that no children were involved in the processing of those rare earths. Yeah right, that happened. It’s making young people even more self-absorbed and pleasure seeking than ever before.

The items, icons and inspiration on social media make MTV of the 80s look like a bible study session at a fundamentalist church . I am fairly certain that those young people aren’t glued to their small screens while they solve integrated calculus problems or debate what Nietzsche really meant when he declared that God was dead. Make no mistake, this is a war. This is a war for the hearts and minds of the youth of the United States. To the social media panderers, it’s all about money. Deeper than that, the hearts and minds of our youth are going down a drain and will never be recovered. Very few of the skills that social media builds have a useful function in the real world; but I didn’t say none.

General Douglas MacArthur said, “The history of failure in war can almost always be summed up in two words: ‘Too late.’ Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy. Too late in realizing the mortal danger. Too late in preparedness. Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance.” Hasta la vista, baby!

Jeffrey Neil Jackson

Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary

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