A generation exposed, then hidden
In suburban Minneapolis, I see more elderly people clinging to masks. However, a few days ago, I saw a mom and two young kids all masked up in a store. One of her daughters was wearing a shirt that said, "I believe in science." They were young enough not to be choosing and purchasing their own clothes. I was so sad for those kids.
Beautifully put, and heartbreaking. I’m so glad that I was able to grow up in relative privacy, in an age before social media. I had the glorious luxury of being forgotten. There is such value in being able to evolve our character over time and shed the mistakes and embarrassment we bumble into in our youth (or adulthood!) This comes to mind often as I raise my three children. Hopefully I can help guide them through this modern over-sharing world. Thank you for sharing your insights Heather!
Imagine the days when in order to communicate with someone not in your physical proximity one needed to craft a hand written letter. This allowed for space as a rule to more fully express one’s considered opinions and intentions, which is why reading these historical objects can be so moving and illuminating. We are losing the art of this kind of communication rapidly, and our culture is in part degrading due to the novelty and cheapness of our current interactions. I’m generally an optimistic being, but there is regression I’m detecting on so many levels that I do worry that we might be becoming less than human in many ways. Quite alarming, to say the least. I hope that I’m not a dinosaur just waiting to go extinct... and that there are ways to save our increasingly discordant culture. Thank you for doing your part.
The two most extreme cultural shifts that for me cast doubt on the whole enterprise from the get-go: people masking in cars alone, and yes, teenagers masking pretty much more than anyone else I noticed.
The absurdity of this in relationship to how the real world actually works (no one else is in your car, teenagers have always been the least at risk) always struck me truly bizarre.
In 2021 we were in Tucson over the holidays. My husband and I went for a hike on a sunny days. I saw a couple of young children, grade school aged, in masks hiking with unmasked adults. In the sunshine, in the desert, distanced. I found it deeply disturbing.
Tik Tok — perhaps the inevitable ‘praxis’ of the expressive individualism ushered in long ago by Rousseau (a man so completely indifferent to succeeding generations that he sent away his own five children to die in the orphanages of his day.)
This article really hits home. Great insight.
In Central Texas I still see adults masking outdoors. Albeit much less, but certainly enough to make me wonder...what has happened to their souls. Were they already fearful people, pre-Covid? All in all it makes me sad. Your writing touches me - please don’t stop. I’m about a 1/4 of the way into your book and enjoying it.
My husband and I were just discussing this past weekend the amount of young people and children still in masks. (Around Edmonds, WA) We were at a restaurant Sunday and the whole corner booth was taken by a multi generational family. No one but the elementary age child was wearing a mask. It feels like a mask has possibly become a “security blanket” for anxious teens and children. So very sad and one of the many fallouts from this whole incident. Your writing and podcasts have been the opposite. Thankful and blessed by both and may not have found them if not for the “crazy Covid”.
Even today in Florida, we still see people in masks. Not so many young people doing so, it is Florida after all. Spring and Summer conditions don't promote mask wearing. But there are still some who do so. Mostly elderly, who I hesitate to criticize for doing so, but still people who are at minimal risk. Younger than those at risk, diving cars, even a bicyclist if you can imagine. I'm in the north of the state, Ron DeSantis country yet I still see masks. Makes me wonder what it is like in much bluer South Florida?
This is another "lost generation" that will come to suffer as did the original "lost generation" of the 1920s. So unnecessary.
One positive spin on the mask thing is that if it fits well enough, it does help with pollen. Hubby says KN-95s are quite helpful for his allergies, but surgical masks and cloth masks don't seal well enough to work well. And his inexpensive 3M dust masks work, too.
I never jumped onto the social media train. Facebook was just a terribly designed space and still is. I stand by that early conclusion. Who REALLY thought a "book of faces" was going to go anywhere beyond superficial? That said, there is much in this post that I completely agree with. And there are a few things I so strongly agree with here (mostly about privacy and making one's own opinion on things before presenting it to others) that I feel strongly compelled to contradict it.
On many levels, privacy has been abandoned for the sake of instantaneous reactivity. A person can't even sneeze without it becoming a "meme" of their culture. All of this behavior is bordering on complete asinine stupidity and it explains a lot on how we can justify any behavior these days.
We have a hyper agreeable problem.
Everyone has to be "in on the new trend". It's not because they like it or want it. It's because the social platform has become so pervasive that if you don't join it, you're out of the loop. Businesses have gone further by making personalities "influencers" which has to be the most rent seeking tradition in human history... Really, we are PAYING people to be popular and nothing more? Talk about Sophistry on Capitalistic overdrive! These people are peddling "fashion trends" as ways of life and "traditions". "Be a part of the X and X corporate family. And as long as you PAY, you're one of us. So give us your money now and be 'taken care' of on the most subliminal sense of the word!" That has become our nihilistic anarchism of the day sadly. Nobody is valuable, and there are no rules beyond what the dollar bends to man's will! (Which I have started to realize nihilism has much more to do with negation than it does ethics. Nihilistic attitudes and philosophies base themselves in negative spaces where subsections of the human population aren't valued or provide any worth. Ours being "the poor, and the uneducated" with both those words becoming distorted from the traditional and far more realistic definitions.)
Now for where I disagree...
I think it stems from Nietzsche's fear of the "unresponsive people" and the return to the Greek seeking of excellence that makes me hold back from fully advocating for privacy. I think there is something quite profound and bold to be ABLE to act impulsive. Obviously this has to be done with far more moderation than the olden days, but the ability to be impulsive is quite empowering for people and I do fear the "Underground Man" from Dostoevsky where we become so self vigilant we can't act as free agents beyond spite. I actually believe much of our faulty wiring to human oddity comes from our policing network. We have an underlying belief "isolation and negation from society" (cancel culture) is the answer to human indecency. I do agree people with oddity need to be "in their place", but I don't think cancelling them or "deigning ourselves as the priests of the righteous" is a good idea. All it does is cancel more people out. And there's a fine but important distinction between disagreeability, and deigning oneself as an authority. That fine distinction is the recognition of our own subjectivity. WE might think a certain way, but we are heavily layered with cognitive bias for good reasons. Human beings are social creatures and the more people "like us", the more we can be social. But if we have too many people "like us" we become a mob and cult.
So that attack on the "unresponsive, unfeeling, mob cult" of the left, (and to a lesser degree on the right), is why I defend the Internets impulsive capacities. At least online we can be stupid without someone breaking down our doors, shooting us on the street, or some other absurd behavior that is becoming far too commonly acceptable as "part of the social trend". All of that said, even the internet is getting tainted by intrusive behaviors fracturing humanity's ability to socialize well and healthily.
So to conclude, I wish I could say real conversations can be done in person, but I think for the time being we are all safer having our thoughts online until the "mob fog mentality" is out of the general sphere. Even "intellectuals" are being caught up in group think and deeply dogmatic pessimism. I pray for the world that allows us to have believers again... A world where someone can have an idea without it inherently being wrong because it is hopeful. Because we are about that damn cynical these days...
Would love your thoughts on this podcast. This is one I listen to weekly (like yours). You say so many of the same things, just from different worldviews. ❤️