It’s Not a Sign of Mental Health to be Adjusted to a Sick Culture.
To anyone who might claim that “American is fine. I don’t see many big issues with our culture.” This is deeply concerning on multiple levels. It suggests a lack of perceptiveness, an inability to see the truth, to analyze deeply or look bravely into the real and dark depths of things.
Our culture, as it stands today, is an incredibly sick one. Not in every way, though it is in many. All of which are significant, and frankly scary.
It is not a sign of emotional health to be adjusted to, comfortable with, or unseeing within a sick society. Instead, it’s quite the opposite.
Why is it important to think about, consider, acknowledge, and then take action with regards to this sicknesses?
Because without seeing, admitting, and then speaking up, nothing will ever change. And, it will only get worse. Sickness that goes untreated festers, grows, and spreads.
You cannot treat a disease or illness if you do not see or acknowledge it, or worse, flat out ignore it.
A laundry list of the significant symptoms of our current sickness.
We make laws that direct what human beings can and cannot do with their own bodies. Case in point: the outlawing of abortion. This is insane. Full stop.
A mass media and consumer culture that encourages and pressures women to inflict violence onto themselves, from starving themselves and binging and purging, to cutting open their bodies and surgically altering them, all to “fit” into said culture’s narrow, rigid, absurd, even cruel “beauty” standards, which are, of course, not pressed upon men with even near to the degree that they are to women. Further, these very “beauty” standards are used to keep women distracted, weak, controlled, and less powerful than men.
Thus, one sex is made to spend their lives starving, depriving, cutting, ever bending and molding themselves, all to be deemed “acceptable” to the opposite sex and to their sick culture.
Glance down any subway car, public bus, across the landscape of inside a restaurant or café, or within a classroom. Most heads are, more often than not, cast down, gazes on screens, fingers tapping away. People are more electronically connected, yet more disconnected from each other socially than ever before.
Entitlement, lack of consideration for others, and thoughtlessness are widespread and rampant. People now routinely play music aloud from the speakers of their cell phones, for all in their vicinity to hear, whether these other people wish to hear it or not. Those close by having qualms and don’t wish to have to hear the unnecessary noise? Too bad.
On the same page, people now have face time and Skype conversation on their phones, while walking down the street, essentially shouting at their phones, while onlookers must hear not only this, but also the disembodied, electronic voice of their conversational companion, blaring forth from their cell phone for all close by to be forced to listen to. Awesome. We no longer care in the least about basic consideration for or the feelings of others.
Obesity and disordered eating run abound. Extreme dieting, near-constant preoccupation or even obsession with weight, and yet, everywhere one looks, a plethora of people are tipping the scales. We have majorly messed up relationships with eating, food, and our bodies.
“The opioid epidemic and addiction more broadly have become the defining public health crisis of our generation.” — Nora Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse. There are widespread, overwhelming degrees of drug addiction throughout the country. In fact, within the last fifteen years, 300,000 people have died of overdose, and experts predicts that within just the next five years, another 300,000 will die of overdose. It is currently the leading cause of death in America today for people under fifty years old.
Levels of depression and anxiety are also steadily on the rise and essentially through the roof. This point, unquestionably connected to the previous one on drug addiction and overdoses.
While there are positives to the concept of online dating (such as, it bringing people to cross paths with others they never would have met otherwise), it promotes a disposable idea with regards to relationships. In the false sense of abundance people glean from dating apps, they are quick to jump, on and on, to the next option. Ever searching for the hottest, for that elusive “ten.” They can “always get better,” so why “settle “ or actually invest in someone?
We no longer date. Instead, we “hang out” (whatever that means) and hook up. We shop through what are online catalogs for our next potential sex partner or date, based, for the most part, a few (often highly sexualized) photos. Dating is now more largely approached with values in mind such as convenience, disinterest in much if any investment, a quick fix, and shallow as well as surface-based priorities.
We remain in relationships, and sometimes for years, (romantic, friendship, or other) which either aren’t healthy or even, which make us miserable.
We have elected and have continued to support a leader for our country who is a bigot, mentally off the wall, a rapist, liar, misogynist, and a just generally cruel-hearted and horrible person.
Mass shootings by angry young men, who are taught to repress and leave unexpressed any emotions, though especially vulnerable ones, as well as who are taught to treat women with cruelty and as less than via their cultural climate, are happening at rates of alarming regularity.
We wear our “busyness” as a badge of honor. The busier we are, the “cooler” we are, the more “popular”. Thus, people fill their time with all sorts of people, activities, and things which they don’t actually, truly love, and which do little to nothing for their soul, spirit, or personal growth. They do these things, instead, due to FOMO, to impress and prove to others that they “have a life,” and to garner a sense of “status.” Settling, for people and things, to fill their schedule and create a perception of “status.”
We are deemed morally wrong or lacking if we do not toil away our life as a “workaholic” and dedicate most of our waking hours, time, and priority to our jobs.
We equate status, money, and “looking perfect” with being successful, impressive, and awesome. We ignore, for the most part, inner character, the way people actually treat others, their life choices, and what kind of heart they have, in lieu of these other, shallow, cheap things and priorities.
We think books like 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight are synonymous with love and romance. Stories that detail possessive, emotionally closed, controlling, angry men who do not allow the women they supposedly love to choose their own friends, clothing, life paths, etc. Instead, the men control her every move, essentially stalk her, and are basically emotionally unavailable (or, hot and cold, totally unpredictable). This is sexy? This is what satisfying love looks like? This is a deep emotional connection? This is respect? Yikes, people.
The concept of spending time with oneself, going solo, or having solitary time to think and just be, is apparently something to avoid at all costs, considered awful, and dubbed a bad or “weird” thing to outside observers. As though enjoying and spending time with oneself makes that person a “loser.”
This is what leads to the panicked filling of one’s time, just to fill it, often with things that do not truly fulfill. When in actuality and by numerous mental health professionals and philosophers alike, the opposite has been concluded on the ability to feel comfortable with, even revel in, as well as prioritize alone time for oneself.
That it is crucial to great mental health, and that in actuality, people who are comfortable with and love time with themselves tend to be more intelligent, creative, confident, and generally better off than those who feel uncomfortable with and avoid it.
We are the only peer nation that does not require employers to offer paid family or maternal leave. Women are punished for being mothers. They are often dubbed “unsexy”, “used up”, as though void of sexuality or depth.
And yet, women who do not want to get pregnant, have babies, or be mothers are considered freakish, incomplete, unfeminine, and even ignorant of their “real” desires. The choice not to have children often resulting in being shamed, insulted, and even bullied, sometimes by one’s own family. Women who do not want children frequently have to deal with “jokes”, about ticking clocks, certain regret, becoming “cat ladies”, or not being “real” women.
Women continue to dominate in lower-wage work sectors, with scant benefits, and slim opportunity to accrue wealth. A 2015 analysis of women’s labor between 2010 and 2016 found that, despite women’s academic success and legal forward strides, the top job for women in the US is: secretary and administrative assistant. Even more shocking, women own just 1% of the wealth that men do. Yes, you read that right. Jaw-dropping and angering, isn’t it?
These are just a handful of the ways in which our culture is a sick one. Until we acknowledge, look in the face, and begin to take actions toward challenging, changing, standing up, and getting angry about these awful aspects of our current culture, nothing will ever shift or change for the better.
We could make America great. First though, we have to see the sicknesses in their fullness that sweep throughout our society today. Then, we actually have to start doing something about them.