the world doesnt shrink to your size just because you lack the depth to understand it
I am on an airplane right now, headed to NYC and it’s been a weird few weeks. I was hit by a car, saw a bear, and a few other things (as is the human experience) which for someone like me (pulls meaning out of the ways the stones are aligned on sidewalks) created emotional wreckage. It had me messed up. I usually am quite happy but I was in a state of uncertainty and worry - nothing felt right.
It took an element of letting go (I love control) to began to realign to hope and things-are-okayism. But it highlighted a lot for me - and had me reflecting on those that seem to live life cheering for the downfall of others.
I’m really fascinated by doomerism - how loud and confidently people will talk about what presumably is the end of their world. I am not sure why there tends to be an undercurrent of “if things collapse, I will be okay because I have gold bars” because if things do end up falling apart, they tend to exist within a state of rubble rather than a state of utility, but alas.
This sentiment actually inspired the Vibecession thesis of last year, where there is a certain segment of people that seem to bemoan that things are relatively okay and insist that things are indeed, actually, terribly, horribly bad.
And I get it! The thrill of rooting for the downfall, waiting for puts to print, the expectation that “this time, I will be right” or whatever is inherently exciting. But it isn’t useful.
I think the thing that frustrates me most about doomerism is the lack of action. I think it’s okay to say “banks ARE failing, inflation IS high, we have existed in a state of excess for years” because all of things are true, but to just bemoan that without developing a tangible plan to improve things (even on a micro level) is a passive course of action that yields no process, and therefore, no results.
If there are thoughts to fix the system (in an equitable, thoughtful way not replacing everything with some even more oligarchical structure) that is great! It’s good to think about how to *improve* the world - like investment in local communities, focusing on education, doing small things to help people out. The problem comes when there is a refusal to do that - and that’s the core thing with doomerism, you’re just gloom.
I think there are a few causes of the doomerism:
Entertainment - The reality tv-ification and sportification of everything creates a layer of removal that is harmful for how people interact with real world structures. There is an immense layer of a derivative of privilege to be willing and able to root for downfall - and to take joy in doing that.
Brain stuff - Because of course, brains get oriented to what we give them - and if negativity is exciting to someone and you’re positive around them, you’re threatening this sense of happiness (hence the very impassioned yelling at anyone who says “hey things are okay”)
Community - There is the adage that ‘misery loves company’ and there is a crow-like tendency to the doomerism flocks. Posting ‘doom porn’, sharing charts that show something about the money supply, and just generally giving off the vibes of a group of people who get along because they all hate the same things (which tbf is a great way to be friends with people)
Alignment to Leader - Druck came out and unsurprisingly started talking about a hard landing and many people began parroting that. Druck of course also said that it’s a challenging time to make economic forecasts, but that’s not as fun to yell about. It’s fun to feel smart.
This isn’t nihilism - If the doomer truly believed that life had no meaning, they would not hold fervor around the world collapsing. They care. The loss is the meaning.
Wallowing in a state of despair is fine, but if you keep on wallowing, you’re eventually going to become soggy with your own inaptitude.
Doomerism with Solutions
Last week I wrote about the importance of hope, and I think that’s key.
To be clear, I am pretty aware of the state of affairs!
The world is in tough shape. A crude list doesn’t even begin to cover it- pharma is undercutting people, student loans, mass shootings, wealth inequality, the aftershocks of ZIRP, credit card spending is up, the debt ceiling is as dumb as possible, commercial real estate is terrifying, BUT ALSO inflation is cooling (and expectations are falling), the labor market is still okay (especially to where it could be), manufacturing is okay, hard data in the NFIB is good, and cities are evolving to be more people-oriented.
There is always a balance. It would be foolish to say that things are perfect, and will remain as they always are. There will be a lot of calibration over the next few years.
We are entering into the very, very vast unknown with AI and with a myriad of other variables. And I think it’s increasingly easy to trend towards negativity, especially if it feels like life is punching you in the face repeatedly.
I think that when we think of a beautiful world, we often equate beauty with perfection. But beauty isn’t perfect. And to be clear, the world is far from perfect. But there are elements of beauty threaded within our world right now that deserve recognition, even if it’s Google Trends for people searching for ‘inflation’ ticking down.
Not to get too woo-woo, but we are the energy we create. Thoughts carry power, the way we interact with the world *is* the world we exist in. Ian McGilchrist -
The whole illuminates the parts as much as the parts can illuminate the whole… The world we experience — which is the only one we can know — is affected by the kind of attention we pay to it… Attention is not just another “cognitive function”: it is… the disposition adopted by one’s consciousness towards the world. Absent, present, detached, engaged, alienated, empathic, broad or narrow, sustained or piecemeal, it therefore has the power to alter whatever it meets.
or even from autosurveillant’s thread on the itchiness of belief and the limits of our current cognitive models -
if a semantic system is used consistently and reliably demonstrates predictive power, that in of itself is evidence for it possessing some amount of Truth
which also holds the idea that our world models often need maintenance -
it's about not rejecting things that empirically provide value in your life just because you can't integrate them into your intellectual understanding of the world. if you can't help trying to rationalize everything, declaring bankruptcy on reason might be a good strategy to access that value!
which is seen really well here with the absolute kicker of a line
the brush strokes on that painting are imperceptible which is an incredibly difficult feat for that medium. the world doesnt shrink to your size just because you lack the depth to understand it
I know it’s hard - for me, I struggle with all of it!! Overthinking, anxiety, loneliness (being human mostly) and some other rocks in my shoe. And it’s hard to maintain positivity with the toxicity of social media - a world built on takes, on monetized opinion, on who can yell the loudest.
But optimism pays more - both in money and life. We owe it to ourselves and others to be mindful of reality - when things are good, when things are bad, and to plan how to maintain and improve all of that. It’s something I have to work on too. But there are a lot of little things that can make our world beautiful.
Three poems - one to remind us of the power we do hold
one to remind us that there is no endless in the current formation -
and finally perhaps, the real reason for the doomers
Thanks for reading.
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I do recognize that there is always a need for a little complain sesh but
Me, this morning
“If the doomer truly believed that life had no meaning, they would not hold fervor around the world collapsing. They care. The loss is the meaning.” Nailed it! 🎯🤔👏
Dream Within a Dream
BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?