In the olden days, it was easy to find meaning in life. True, life was ultimately as meaningless as it is nowadays, but before you arrived at that point, if at all, you were close to the natural end of your lifespan already anyway. Before you could find ever-lasting peace six feet under, after pondering whether your life has been worth it in the weeks or months up to your dying day, you had a hopefully rich and fulfilling or at the very least busy life behind you.
Before the onset of societal collapse in the 1960s and 1970s, you were railroaded through life. You had kindergarten, school, and college. Maybe you did military service, maybe you skipped college and got a job straight out of high school. Either way, the next step was to get married. Before you knew it, you had a mortgage for a house and a wife who was pregnant with the first of your four or five children. (Believe it or not, but the two-children norm is very recent.) That mortgage could be comfortably paid off in ten years, by the way. No matter if you advanced much in your career or not, your job was quite safe. Layoffs were rare. Maybe you would change employers mid-career to chase after a seemingly better opportunity. By the time you were in your 50s, you could start thinking about winding down your career. Your first grandchildren also appeared on the scene, keeping you busy. Of course, your grandchildren were likely to live reasonably close-by anyway. In your 60s, you would enter retirement. Great-grandchildren would not appear for a while, so you might have gotten a dog and enjoyed your golden years with it and your devoted wife. This would be the time where you could have, for once, sat back and thought about the meaning of life, or the meaning of your life. If you didn’t like your conclusions, it didn’t matter much because you were financially secure, or secure enough and, in any case, you’d soon kick the bucket, so it’s not as if you had to face decades of agony and mental torment.
You can still try to have that kind of life today. Go ahead and try! Except that the societal rules have been changed. It used to be very common, and probably still is, that people feel useless after retirement because they no longer have anything to do. Their health degrades rapidly. Some even kill themselves. This happened even in better times. Yet, today you can get a dose of that in your prime years already. Plenty of guys who get fuelled by external motivation get depressed, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or suicidal after a divorce or the loss of a job they enjoyed. Now they can’t get a new job that is as good, and with alimony payments crippling their finances, they have little chance of remarrying either. Besides, the appeal of marrying an older woman is just not there. It’s one thing to marry young and grow old together, but quite another to take some other man’s discarded starter wife.
In the past, your average-intelligence Joe was kept busy all his life. A blue pill a day kept pestering inquisitive thoughts away and only in retirement could he realize that he was little more than a means to an end, i.e. a tool, for his wife, society, and his employers. That may have sapped all life energy out of him. Then again, you need a certain minimum IQ to even question your own existence and your role in society, so chances were that he could make it through life without the burden of excessive thinking.
In contrast, today’s men are disillusioned. Society has broken the various unspoken contracts that kept their blue-pilled dads in line. The Ponzi-scheme commonly referred to as the welfare state is on the brink of bankruptcy (who’s going to pay your pension?), divorce has been normalized, and companies downsize at will. In this day and age, loyalty is a liability more than anything else. Consequently, it is of little surprise that many men opt out, often including many highly able men. In terms of the steps I mentioned above, they only go through a few of them. They go to kindergarten, school, and university, and then they get a job. That will be it. In most careers, you may not top out in your 30s, but it is quite likely that you have risen about as high as you are ever going to get. This hit me hard at a recent visit to a client’s site during my day job. I was walking past a bunch of desks in an engineering office, and on the way I saw an announcement for the farewell party of their coworkers sitting at desk #57. No, he would not go on to a different company, he was about to retire. That’s the reality today: you can have a career spanning a few decades where you get a bunch of superficially more impressive job titles to make you feel more important. Yet, you keep the same fucking desk and do the same kind of work. If you’re unlucky, you max out your career within a few years. Yet, others who don’t manage to break into the industry think you are one of the lucky ones. This failure-to-enter is not uncommon in any field because even STEM is far from the sure thing it is portrayed in mainstream media.
You, the enlightened young and professional male, are in your 30s and you realize that the next step on the career ladder may be in reach, but it is uncertain. Yet, you live in great comfort. You have friends, and you have hobbies. You also have too much time to think and reflect on your position in life. In contrast, with a wife breathing down your neck to make more money — she may not care if your commute increases by 30 minutes x 2 in exchange for a measly extra 3% at a different company — this would not happen so easily.
It may seem cynical to say that you feel a lack of motivation in your life, or that you feel as if your life lacks meaning because you have too much time to think. Yet, this is precisely the problem. If we were all busy bringing up five kids and killing ourselves climbing the corporate ladder, we would not have much time to question our personal choices. That, and the fact that you are indeed smart enough to question society. It is most certainly the case that your life would feel more meaningful with a wife, kids, and a mortgage to pay-off. Yet, that is a trade you may not want to make. Well, blame your high IQ! In contrast, Jamal, Tyrone, and all his broke friends do not feel despair when they are running a train on a woman who offered herself in exchange for some weed. Who’s the winner here? Even the Ancient Greek philosophers pondered about this problem, and with unsatisfactory answers.
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