My first two weeks after graduation, I found myself in a world of hurt, an experience derived primarily from spending far too much time with myself.
Social media and the parental rumor mill had purported that the majority of my peers had found their pathways in their post-collegiate careers, having long ago secured the sanctity of a regimented work schedule. Meanwhile, I had become skilled at hugging blankets in my old bed at my parent’s house.
There is a palpable pressure unrelated to financial concerns that demands upon graduation that our lives be immediately productive — as much as this pressure is reinforced by societal and worldly reminders, it just as much springs from an internal source. Some blame it on a capitalist framework, others on the monetary system. It’s neither of these. Our incessant and urgent drive to move forward with our lives and make something of ourselves has nothing to do with productivity or achieving a sense of self-worth in relation to others. It has everything to do with distraction.
There’s a reason why the most severe punishment we can impose upon a human is solitary confinement — there is nothing worse than leaving a person to confront themselves. We are walking bastions of pain. Boredom, stillness, and stagnation are modes of being that force us to peer within, a move so excruciating that we automatically look for an outlet, any outlet, that let’s us focus on something other than ourselves. After all, the Information Age was never truly about information.
I don’t know what it is in us — is it our primordial sin? our inaccessibly individuated lives? — that leads to a hard-wiring of pain. The gradual liberation of society has led to the production of ever stronger stimulants, ever crazier forms of escape. The Millennial generation has quite possibly perfected the Ultimate Aversion, accessing immediate alleviations to boredom in the palms of our hands.
Critics warn that such sustained distraction is inherently dangerous, that it cleaves society from the natural world. As if it wasn’t the case that we lost touch with Nature sometime around the Industrial Revolution. The Millennial generation isn’t responsible for cultivating the post-modern era — we just made it exceedingly apparent.
Our drive to move on, move out, and move forward, regardless of worldly concerns, is merely a manifestation of our pursuit of the Ultimate Aversion. For blanket huggers like me, crawling instead of moving, we’re hit with a maelstrom of emotion when given too much time to contemplate. To avoid the excruciating glance within, some turn to marijuana, others to money — I’ve chosen to bleed online.
In time, we all come to our own satisfied forms of avoidance. The upside is that there is no end to our options.
Cheers to the Millenium.