The Modern Factors of Apathy

The Modern Factors of Apathy

(Note: The article was originally written in 2017. There could be reflections on the author that are no longer relevant to the author's personal shpere).

Nowadays, due to the factors mentioned below, apathy has, theoretically, became a more serious issue than it was before the industrial and digital revolutions. In order to better understand the potential increase in apathy in our modern times, It is possible to come with a few assumptions as causes for such a wide, contemporary phenomenon we call apathy:

· Quantity Overcomes Quality: Today, with infinite amounts of information and intellectual property (photos, videos, books and so forth), the world has came to a state where there is more emphasis on the maximum amount of products rather than their quality. You could be writing a piece which you may find as original and fine, but in this reality of constant information it is hard to create unique things. This is why many movies, for example, are nothing more than a variated repititations of former movies in their base of ideas. Think of how many romantic comedies are out there, with the difficulty of the audience to distinct between each other. Even if a piece of intellectuality is to be original, what are the odds of it to become a masterpiece in the eyes of the general population which spends its time on lesser quality pieces by the amounts? Today, productivity is based not on the quality of each of your pieces, but on your overall amount of doing. It is like we measure our self-worth by the amount of our deeds, thus making us apathetic towards things which can appear as finer but are overshadowed by the sea of worthless junk our industries produce.

· Alienation and Egoism: Today not even your physically closest neighbor may know you, or even bother to care about you unless you’re making noise or affect their lives in some other way. I live in the same neighborhood for 13 years and I barely know anyone here, let alone my neighbors. I don’t have friends here beyond my family (I don’t have friends at all but that’s another story), and my neighbors seem to dislike me because I used to play the piano so much in the past. The last time I interacted with my neighbors was when they were too noisy while I was having a lesson on the internet, and I head to go and to complain while the lesson was going on regardless of me. After the neighbor finally agreed to, at least, “think on it”, they left me in the dark of their building, and I had to go down the building (it had no elevator) while I risked falling down the stairs. I didn’t knew how to light the corridor, and the neighbor didn’t bother to help me. After some time I greeted them, but they immediately turned their heads aside as if I was slapping them. I felt alienated. Even our closest neighbors barely care for us, and nobody cares about you when you are walking in the metropolis. I had a friend once who ignored me on a daily basis at work just because I used to be in love with them, and so they ignored me for several years because of that honest feeling. I came to the conclusion that there is no one you can truly trust and rely upon but yourself, regardless of how favorable you are. The urbanization of the globe made each individual, unless they are a celebrity, a tiny, insignificant passerby who lacks no general importance. In this age we do not need to care for others to survive - all we need is a profitable job and an apartment of your own, and you may be set for life. Social interactions today, I dare to argue, are unnecessary as means for survival, and therefore loneliness, AKA negative solitude, is a common thing in our daily lives, along with depression and a sense of misunderstanding. I myself rarely feel lonely, but it was only because I got used to be alone, and start liking it. Egoism may not be a bad thing, after all. If you do not need certain people to help you function or achieving a certain goal, why would you care about them or bother to interact with them continuously? I honestly think that this world can be a better one if we would adjust to this constant state of alienation and social isolation, and start looking after one’s own rather on others who can do that, too.

· Too Many Faces: Some argue that humans can know other people specifically to certain limit. There are just so many people in the world, and overpopulation is an increasing issue over the years, and, I assume, may threaten our existence in the future (this is one of the reasons I don’t want kids). Although it may be an ignored fact in the media, my country (Israel), a very small one in terms of territory in comparison to other nations, suffers from extreme overpopulation, as I once read: “There are more humans being born than residencies being built”. External points of view towards my country’s population may claim that we are a very warm, welcoming culture. However for someone who only left Israel once in his life, I can tell that the general population rarely cares about you specifically, as there are more than 8 million citizens here. In comparison, Finland, who is much bigger than Israel, has just 5 and a half million citizenry. If you are not rich, extroverted, outgoing, humorous, attractive or hold certain set of views regarding politics, culture, religion and sports, you are likely to be asked the common question; “Mi makr otcha bichlal?” or, “Who the hell knows you?” and be left aside along with the rest of what-their-faces. I would assume its somewhat true in the USA and other western countries, although I have no idea or evidence based on personal experience besides the British, who actually seem to care about you at least on the polite level. Far are the days where having friends and forming deep relationships were a necessity for material survival, which is the most basic and important form of survival in my opinion. What I can say furthermore about Israel is that there is a lot of hatred towards each other not only internationally but also inside the various sects of the population, leaving you offended - or even put into shame on social media - if you do not much a certain sect’s expectations. I am not hating my country; I’m telling my alienated, lifelong perspective as an atheist Israeli. To be honest I feel as if I am in 19th Russia with all of this alienation and apathy.

· Common Unfortunate Issues: On Quora, when I look for questions to answer, I encounter a lot of questions with a common theme: the will to commit suicide. I just don’t know how can I uniquely give my own efficient answer, AKA answers that are original and were not told before, but I just can’t come with such answers which may lift someone from suicidal thoughts effectively. Thus, with a small grief, I skip over them, not knowing what to reply anymore to a such common issue in our globalized society. I read once that there are around 100k of humans dying everyday (don’t worry, in that article I also read that more than 400k humans are born every day). Just watch the news on a constant basis, and think how many humans are being killed or dying across the globe for days after days. The problem in all of this is not the fact that people day everyday, because that can be natural - the problem is that we get so used to murdering, car accidents and successful suicide attempts that many of us do not care about the unfortunate victims and their suffocating. Our ability to adjust to repetitive situations made us, arguably, stronger to endure receiving such unfortunate information, and therefore more emotionally immune to them. “It is not like the fact that he killed himself is new”, may say a random person. “People attempt suicide everyday, and it’s not like I can do anything about it, right?”.

· Increasing Lack of Sympathy: Let us face the cold and harsh truth, my audience: the media and culture made us apathetic and careless. I argue that today there are more blood and gore on the TV than it has ever used to; very young children can easily find inappropriate contact on the internet, whether intentionally or not; a very large portion of video games, which are highly consumed, are based on combat and war; sex is not a taboo anymore, but a subject widely discussed in the public, and drugs are traded worldwide. I dare to claim that our globalized society is immoral and corrupt because of the state of the media in which we constantly consume. Why should we care anymore if we watch or read about someone’s head being shot and exploded? Why should we not consume porn if it gives us joy? Why should we stop doing drugs if drugs are socially acceptable in some of our peer groups? Why should we stop cursing if cursing became the norm? When we view such gore and indulge in unhealthy activities which may threaten our survivability - many of us simply couldn’t care less. The general aggressiveness is so normalized that some of us view it as things to be taken for granted. Think of the horrors in Yemen right now due to the civil war, the poverty and the ebola and the massacres that are going on there - a common thought may be: “why should I care? They are some third world country no one cares about”. This habit of unfortunateness made us blunt, arguably immune, and apathetic.

I shall offer no solutions to phenomenon, because I believe it is not a collective situation but an individual-related one. It may affect us as whole, but only we as individuals choose how to react and respond with the information we receive, regardless of this information’s nature. I know I cannot control other’s points of view, nor their emotional attitudes towards things, and thus I am myself quite apathetic to the general apathy. I can only offer information, wisdom and opinion, and the decision of what you should do with it is beyond my reach.


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© 2019 Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosopher