The New Man Anxiety

I’m suffering from what I call the “New Man Anxiety”.

I started to notice I was suffering from this particular form of anxiety a couple of years ago, after doing some research online.

I’m quite sure you’re suffering from the same anxiety as well because you feel it.

How do I know that? Well, due to the fact that we are alike.

We are all connected to the Internet, where collective Knowledge has turned into the source of our mental illness; not knowing doesn’t exist anymore; and the paradoxes co-exist in real-time. The Internet has given us the possibility to access this knowledge; thousands upon thousands of years in History we can acquire in an instant. This overwhelming vessel casts an enormous shadow over our ability to think, but more importantly, our ability to embrace the unknown. Anxiety arises from the fact that it’s getting harder to gain insights, harder to have new ideas, and harder to find something the Internet doesn’t have a Wiki page for.

It is almost as if our internal world of Ideas is no longer being challenged, partially because more than ever, we recycle existing ideas whenever we retrieve knowledge from the cyberspace. But how can we be expected not to? It’s something we do constantly, without even noticing it. The new man doesn’t need to know or learn anymore, and I believe this disempowers us a cognitive human beings; every technological advance seems to peel off a layer of meaning.

The Internet suppresses ideals and dreams, it answers our questions and leave us with so much information, that anxiety or feeling overwhelmed are hardly unnatural responses.

These tight links to data-streams are the hidden demons that live inside of us, pressuring us to read about the world, read our e-mails, read critics, and consume: videos, series, online books, lectures; everything about everything. As rich and profound as it seems, we are left with a thousand other life questions we need to answer for ourselves, with increasingly less time to do so because we rarely take the time to think for ourselves with such technological advances.

We are all living in paradoxes, where Information flows at the speed of light, while we find ourselves unable to find any validation. It is not really possible to trust or believe anyone, as everything is based off individual and experiential perception. The explanations given by any authority figure, or even a friend derived from the Internet can’t truly be considered more legitimate than our own personal conclusions. However, paradoxically, this informational creature lives out there, influencing the thoughts and actions of everyone who lays eyes upon it.  What is shared and spread is something we have to deal with, no matter how much cognitive dissonance we endure from it. I think one of the big challenges for the new man is to live with all this conflicting data, and to learn how to do so, because there is no school or framework to guide us for this. Now, more than ever, these paradoxes engross our lives, and this is not something that is parallel to our existence, rather it’s something that practically dictates our lives. Paradoxes exist and sustain themselves at various levels, through diverse implications, whether it be philosophical or moral implications, sociological implications, or political implications.

I think paradoxes are metaphors that have been present throughout Human history, that we aware of via cognitive processes, yet at the same time, unable to surpass them. Paradoxes come out of this mental, thinking matrix we have, floating in our brains and generating for the new man even more anxiety. In a previous post, I talked about values, and how we could restore a dialogue in our societies, in order to resolve this conundrum. Our consciousness keeps evolving, and keeps self-generating reflective ideas, but it doesn’t prevent us from sticking to old patterns, old habits, and old behaviors, such as jealousy, possessiveness, rage…

The new man questions in this regard his own values notices how certain patterns and behaviors are detrimental and anticipates the evolution of our species; he senses what new humans will be about.

Questioning, everything, everywhere, every second. This daunting task forces us to constantly revisit everything that’s true, everything we think is true, everything we know we think is true. While there are so many questions answered today, through the lenses of Sciences, such as sociology, or psychology; there are more and more questions, for which answers are progressively nuanced. The new man needs to question everything, because if he doesn’t do so, he condemns himself to learn false facts or wrong information. Knowledge finds itself on a competing field, and many candidates try to push their own agenda. Every line the new man reads has to be taken with a grain of salt, and there is definitely a paucity of information we can really rely one. It’s almost as if we become de facto scientists, running meta-analysis of every piece of news, or every article we read.

Who is the author? Does he have any interest? What are his affiliations?

These are some of the multiple questions the new man asks.

More and more fields of study interact with each other, and for some, we already reached a metaphysical realm. Think space probing: what is going to happen the day we hear something telling us we are not alone?

The new man no longer calls this science-fiction, and anxiety comes from the fact that we are in the game now. Our civilization is to depart soon, but are we ready to leave?

Alone, more than ever. Hyper-connected to so many social networks and media, which emphasizes our ability to fabricate a false image the self, and a false Story, and which disintegrates our ability to think, to reflect, and to have stable, and working relationships. We are living an era where deep superficiality rules, in other words, quantity beats by far the quality of the time we spend with people, the conversations we have, and the things we read.

New men have a hard time to make connections with people, because it’s just a game; what’s the difference between someone on the other side of the screen, and  mere pixels in a game? Just the story we make, the story we setup for what we see, and how we imagine something, but in the end, we can sense how both are not real.

Loneliness exist due to our longing for wholeness, loneliness exists because no one was told there is a need to be accountable for anything. In the end, our lives are speeding by, and we have barely truly talked or connected with anyone. Writing countless virtual messages is just History repeating itself, over and over, just another idiosyncrasy.

There is no substitute for real human connections, and as advanced our technical interfaces are, they don’t give us the feeling of joy we feel when we have a good laugh with a friend, the feeling of sacredness we feel when we make love. I think the anxiety comes from the fact that we can feel this void eating us alive, more and more, as virtual friends add up. No one easily shares inter-personal experiences in this mega-connected world, because we don’t have an appropriate place that would allow such experiences to take place.

In light of this, I find myself angry. Angry, towards so many things, and so many people. Angry for no perceivable reason, and that leads to increased levels of stress and panic. More than ever, I feel this rush flowing through my veins, this feeling that I’m late for something, and there is something else to do. At the end of the day, I find myself feeling bad if I didn’t do anything, and I’m sure all new men have this emotional response, while we aggrandize this notion that we need to do something meaningful with our lives, or “be” someone. Aren’t we the first generation to fully be able to apply this notion of personal responsibility? And the main lever of this notion for us is this fool’s quest of imbuing our lives with significance. 

Angriness becomes a potent mean to express a raging frustration we don’t know how to tame. It is as if our ideological spankings and ideological damnations are lighting up, and taking the form of emotional unrest. I feel sometimes my brain is sitting on an electric chair, and each new dogma, or new ideology, such as saving the dolphins, or the black turtles from the Pacific triggers a new discharge.

So much of our emotions are can be foreign to us, and this leads to sense of panic, which in turn leaves us with these inconsistent behaviors. I wonder if it’s possible for us to channel these emotions in a healthy way, without being called a buddhist or a spiritual person?

We are desperate, because as much as we would like to point a finger at something, we are told nothing exists. No God, no values, no ethics, no morals; while judging has become the new nemesis. Desperate in way, because there is this underlying structure that is being created, that dictates how we are supposed to act, how we are supposed not to believe in anything but Science and its reductionism, while emerging western philosophies  don’t seem to consider the social dynamics we’re in.

In the end, it is as if we are all trying to fit cubes in triangles: it’s only working if we push hard enough; or if no one saw.

Interesting though, a lot of anxiety comes from despair; because our world today is being shaken by the notion of “hope”, or more precisely, lack of. While theological or metaphysical constructs are good candidates, they tell us nothing about the nature of reality the way we experience it today, nor they account for the evolution of our brain, and its ability in generating more and more complex thoughts. It’s not wise to say the talking monkey is just a veneer, or something we need to be detached from, because that only leads us to believe we’re not functional, and there is this ad vitam eternam work in progress. It leaves me with a diminished feeling, as I’m wondering how many times the wheel of reincarnations should spin for the new man, before he figures everything out.

Disillusioned, free from the Pantheon of Ideology, and free from any belief system. In the end, there is no more valuable experience than the one lived as a free agent. But, this freedom doesn’t guarantee a genuine experience, it simply frees us from our old attachments, such as these previous ideological frameworks. Disillusionment comes from realizing that there is nothing we can experience out of our own subjectivity easily; and as good as self-transcendence or ego-death are, these are not extrapolations we can have from our personal phenomenology. The new man is anxious on the subject, not knowing which side is the right one, and which side if the wrong one. The frustration builds when we realize that Manichean thinking doesn’t do us any good, but it’ something we are hard-wire to do, no matter what we think. The new man needs to rebuild a sense of personality, and a sense of the Self without suffering, a Self that can exist in full peace, without being misjudged.

In the end, the new man anxiety is very real, and it finds itself at the end of the spectrum. It represents the accretion of so much diverse knowledge, but in a suffocating way that leaves no room for breathing.

This complexity stemmed from the fact that we now have access to such a tremendous amount of information in real-time, that we feel the urgency to leave the womb, and leave the planet. Guilt and remorse won’t kill us, but will serve a lesson: there really is no right answer, no matter who it came from or mature it may sound.

Is it possible that evolution has come to an halt; and we feel it, thus generating all this panic?

This anxiety is something we need to question first, and try to understand, rather than trying to run away from it.

This anxiety is a loss of hope in reaction to a breakdown of many of the defining qualities of our self, or our identity. This enterprise of coming at terms with our anxiety is about deconstructing before re-constructing; re-integrating this notion of human life on earth, and find for ourselves new definitions that give room for hope, and strength to delve into a deeper viewing of the self, in opposition to the crude vision we gave to it. This crude vision is nothing but our inability to fully understand our circumstances as humans.

Nothing scares us more than answered prayers…

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