Darkness of the World

This post is part of Agora Road's May 2024 Travelogue.


This journal entry touches on a lot of topics that might make you sad. If you are in a bad mental state, proceed with extreme caution.


These days, most people agree that there is something wrong with the world. I codified this subject in my internal archives as the "Darkness of the World".

I recently did some research about Amish people. Many people (me included) believe that they have avoided the "darkness" that plagues our world. I am interested in figuring out what exactly they did right. Before that though, I figure I must first take a look at the so-called "darkness".

I won't reveal too many details, but I am lucky enough to currently have a life that avoids most of the darkness of the world. As such, I consider myself to be in a privileged position to examine it. Most of the problem I experienced are described in the internet challenge article. The only thing not mentioned is that at some point I was concerned about never getting a girlfriend due to some medical conditions I have. I still have yet to enter any kind of relationship, but I am no longer worried about that now.

I was also born in the 2000s. As such this entry will mostly focus on problems of Gen Z as I believe we are on the forefront of the "darkness".

Before starting this research, I already made a plan to deal with the issues at hand. It consists of constantly remind myself to stop caring about things.

Although I believe to have already found the solution, I still wished to learn more about the problems we face.


I looked at my archives and found two videos relevant to this topic that I noted were very in-depth. As I watched the videos I took notes in a mindmap to compile the observations and claims made. I also read the comments of the video to see if people had anything else to add. The videos in question are:


So here's the data I gathered. I have identified the major changes that happened:

  • Globalization caused major shifts in the economy. The increased immigration and outsourcing of jobs to other countries causes fierce competition. As a result, workers are seen as a disposable resource.
  • The cost of living became very high. I am not an economist, so I am not 100% sure on what the catalyst for that was. One thing that is clear though is that this causes immense financial stress for most people.
  • Social media destroyed IRL interactions. In 2012, smartphones became mainstream. This served as a catalyst for increased use of modern social media which are designed to be addictive. As such people stayed indoors. This led to the collapse of traditional communities and dating. People thus became lonely.
  • Increased media use. Since people stay indoors more, they are more exposed to media in general. Said media exposes the people to problems they cannot solve which create a feeling of powerlessness. The media is also designed to get your attention using survival instincts (sex, violence and disgust). This probably has various negative said effect on the psyche.
  • Increased polarization. Due to the aforementioned increased media uses, people are exposed to the worst the world has to offer. Combined with the general powerlessness, this generally results in people either embracing weird and/or extreme ideologies or not believing anything. As a consequence of the increased tribalism, there are now more "losers" and "winners" because people increasingly think in black and white.
  • Lack of structure. People used to believe in religion and/or that doing your part in society was all you needed to do live a happy life. Due to many factors discussed above, those two things are quickly losing their relevance.
  • General distrust. People feel that the social contracts of old are gone and feel like they have taught lies. Due to rapid societal changes Gen Z believes that older generations are out of touch with their reality. Furthermore, increased media exposure led to distrust towards corporatations and politicians. The increased polarization also plays a role as it divides people. With all the factors combined, most people come to the conclusion that the future has nothing to offers and lose hope.
  • While researching I found something interesting. In the book Bowling Alone, Robert D. Putnam argues that television caused a decline in community attendance in the USA. I also found out about a study conducted in the 1920s that raised similar concern with the radio. This interesting because the early 2000s and late 90s are widely regarded as being "the good eras".
  • In the video watched, the main solutions suggested essentially boils down to "stop having expectations and desires". Very similar to my current mindset.


Long story short, it seems that the catalyst for the "darkness" was an economical shift and smartphones and/or social media becoming mainstream. I suppose an argument could be made that increased internet usage caused the economical shift, but this is not my area of expertise, so I won't speculate much here.

Judging from my personal experience, I conclude that social media usage is the true catalyst for the "darkness". Although I never used social media using a smartphone, I was still using those platforms through my desktop computer and my Nintendo Switch.

It should be noted that social media seems to have unique proprieties. While it is comparable to television, this technology clearly not caused the massive shift we are experiencing. I suspect it is specifically caused by personalized contents and algorithms.

I must admit that this answer is very disappointing. I am pretty sure that the majority of us suspected this was the case already.

When the "darkness" is superimposed with Amish traditions and the culture of the late 90s and early 2000s, a pattern emerges. In those cases, the people's expectations and social contracts were fufilled. Considering how quickly our world fell to the "darkness", I suspect our culture was not that strong to start with.

I think the crux of the issue is that societies are designed to implant expectations into people. Clearly this is not the best way to go as people depressed when things do not go as expected.

I currently hold the beliefs that those that hold great power are those who stop caring. They become impervious to the judgment of others and are not shackled by futile dreams.

In the end, we might not be able to change the world, but we can certainly change ourselves.

Written by manpaint on 14 May 2024.