I really feel that as a society we have checked out. Are we are on a break? A break from strength, respectability and power. Narcissism is just a symptom of the many things that are going very wrong in society. I'm getting really tired of our nation of cowards, equivocators and sycophants that are perpetually weakening our world from the inside out.
I just say “no” to all this. I reject it. In my opinion, a lot of the current problems in society can be traced back to a couple of things: a misguided backlash against equality (people not understanding that it's about combatting all of the 'isms.'), the political correctness movement, a shift in our family values and parenting style, technological connectivity replacing human connection, and a lack of leadership training.
In any social order, when one formerly disenfranchised group gains power, it causes ripples. Let's use the example of feminism. It caused more than a ripple: It caused a tidal wave. The lines between masculinity and femininity have become very blurred. In some ways that has been a very good thing and has helped make it easier for transgendered people to gain acceptance. In other ways, it's created problems in the male/female dynamic. Men have become afraid to follow traditional male roles for fear of looking like luddites. So men have stepped back in the name of equality. Women are afraid to follow traditional female roles because “just” being a housewife and mother is considered lesser. I mean we fought for equality right? Gotta have a career. Gotta bring home the bacon. Gotta go out there and get what is ours! This is good in theory, except for the fact that we’ve stepped too far over the line. We haven't found balance. I believe this is simply an adjustment period. The Millennials are past the “I am woman - Hear me roar” stage of the feminist movement because they were born into a world where they, and everyone they know, were equal. The men, though, they are the lost boys. While we were championing the cause of women, we forgot to champion men. On the plus side, we will have less assholes in the future. On the negative side, we will continue to have less marriages and children because fewer people are seeing tradition as a desirable option. I am one of those people. I always put my career before my personal life. I've reaped rewards for that in one way but suffered for it in others. I am a card carrying member of the romantically unsuccessful tribe.
What started out as a social movement to combat racism, sexism and homophobia has turned into one of the worst things in human history. We’ve just taken it a bit too far. It has stripped away our individuality. We no longer take a hard look at our own biases. We don’t question why we stereotype or malign people because we are not supposed to do it in the first place. We have institutionalized our civility. Only to a degree though: You can call a guy a prick and no one says anything but call someone a c&%t and people wince - heck I'm not spelling it out because people will wince when they read it. Oh they won’t say anything to you when you say it because that wouldn’t be politically correct. The PC movement can be seen no more so than in the world of comedy. Comedians have to be careful what they say and the way the say it for fear of a backlash. Politicians have to use rhetoric and double speak and be careful not to offend any of their constituents. Men have to be careful not to ogle women or call someone “honey” or “babe” so as not to offend. The Millennials – or as author Bret Easton Ellis has called them, “Generation Wuss” - have gotten around this by creating stupid non-words like “bae.” Personally I’d rather be called the C word than bae but that’s not very politically correct now is it? What we’ve essentially done is replace righteous indignation with political correctness. I think it was Generation Y that really fired up the PC Machine. My generation – X – was too pessimistic to bother.
I think the biggest downside to our shifting values is the rise of indiscriminate violence in society followed by our fear of embracing the dichotomy between the masculine and the feminine. As we evolve, violent crime against women, children etc. should go down but everytime I turn on the news, it feels like it’s going the other direction. I mean, take the rise of home grown terrorism or mass shootings for example. That’s getting worse daily. I truly believe that as a society, we abdicated a lot of our responsibilities in raising good citizens and it’s making some of those citizens VERY angry. It’s a big problem but let’s look at a little problem: Why and how is opening a door for a woman considered sexist? I think chivalry is fantastic. I don’t find it sexist at all but yet it’s dying in our society. I attend a lot of formal events with my coworker for my job and I’ve trained him to carry the train on my dress every time I take a step, pull out my chair, lay my napkin on my knee at the table etc. I’m sure he thinks I’m bonkers but we run in a circle of rich older men and they all notice it and comment on his “manners.” That’s exactly how I see them: manners. Mind you, women are partly to blame for this: the moment women engaged in hookup culture, it was the death knell to chivalry. If we try to act like men, we can't ask to get treated like women anymore. Pure and simple. It's killed romance. I've thrown in the towel.
I also think the whole helicopter parenting movement has backfired. When you tell your kids that everything they do is great and you protect them from experiencing failure, bullying or any hardship, what do they do when they run into real life? They fold and use substances to cope. I believe this is why we have a whole generation of people who have been getting high since they were teens. The bottom line is we all need boundaries to flourish. I grew up with too many boundaries, which is hindsight, is better than growing up with none. My Mom is a perfectionist and she not only expected it from me, she demanded it. I was resentful sure, but I grew up to be a very conscientious adult who always does her best, keeps her word, and stands up for people who are being maligned. I never crumble. I never reach for substances to cope. I turned out okay, all things considered.
While it would appear that technology is creating greater connectivity among people, I think it does the exact opposite. It breaks down real bonds among people and creates a false sense of intimacy. Nobody dates in real life. Dating has become an app. Lovers don’t call each other: they text. People don’t go out and live in the moment: they stage photos to show how fun and cool their lives are. The rise of the selfie has made people even more insecure than they already were and has led to an alarming increase in narcissism. Trust me, no one wants to go to Instagram to see 500 photos you’ve taken of yourself . No one…except you and your selfie taking friends who hit that heart button. Technology has also allowed people to generate hate anonymously. Look at the rise of the internet troll and the cyber bully. Technology has created new ways for us to be cowards and assholes behind the cloak of the keyboard. Technology has also made it so that instead of taking to the streets to fight injustice, you can fight it in 140 characters or less on Twitter. If you are against something, rather than actually doing anything about it, you can just tweet out your indignation, rile some people up who will also tweet about it and then forget about it. Or take a selfie of yourself with a pouty face next to the offending thing and posting it on your facebook page: “Look at how outraged I am! I find these people*"#fullofshit”*.
This is a big pet peeve of mine. This is where I feel we are really falling behind. I don’t believe leaders are born. I believe leaders are made. I have always been a leader and that’s because I was raised to take charge. I was raised to have my voice heard. I was raised to be strong. I work in a corporate environment that is very short of leadership. In life I’m surrounded by apathy and lack of direction. Most people I know just go through the so so few people speak up for themselves? Maybe this is an offshoot of the political correctness movement or maybe it’s a sign of a bigger problem: we don’t teach people how to lead. It used to be that we intrinsically taught young boys, for example, how to be “manly.” A kid would fall and hurt himself and start crying and the Dad would tell him to “shake it off” or to “man up.” That was one of the kernels from which leadership eventually popped. Leadership skills are important in every aspect of life. I think somewhere along the line, leadership training got removed from the equation to make room for equality. I proffer that there can be no true equality without leaders. I also feel like we’ve confused narcissism and arrogance with leadership. A cocky person who bosses everyone around is not a leader. He’s a coward masquerading as a leader who uses fear to get what he wants. Not the same thing. A true leader leads by motivating people and uniting people into a cohesive group – a leader makes them want to follow. They want to follow because they believe that person is the best person to get things done. They follow because they trust the instincts of the leader. They follow because they know they cannot, or don’t want to, lead themselves. Now I’m not saying everyone can be a leader. I do believe though, that at least ¼ to 3 has the ability if encouraged to do so and given the tools to do so from a young age. Society needs to do a better job with this. I look at the road ahead and all I see are a bunch aimless drifters.