The Perma-gloom

“Everything is terrible but I’m fine.” People all over the world tend to be individually optimistic and socially pessimistic.

It is a well-studied phenomenon in psychology that if a person is healthy and normal, he tends to focus more on his worst characteristics than his best; yet despite, that people are optimistic.

Maybe Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was right when he said that “people settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness.”

In this day and age, it’s not hard to be despaired.

With round-the-clock notification of news popping into your smartphones as it happens, plus the scourge of social media (considered by some as “crime against humanity”), we are more deluged than ever by information that depress us. This leads to a kind of perma-gloom about the state of the world, even as we as individuals maintain a certain resilience about the things that we have the most control over.

Beyond the multifarious array of daily trials that we are confronted with, many of us – according to The Atlantic – seem to be suffering from something related to the German concept of weltschmerz, a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness.

Today it is mediaschmerz, a despondency brought about by the news cycle and news media, which is distinct from the experience of our everyday life.

Psychologists are not entirely sure if this is good or bad. It simply is. Individual hope and global despair are not contradictions. For now, they form the double helix of the human spirit.

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