Why does it feel like society is becoming ever more grim and joyless?

Whenever I go out, I can’t help but feel the heavy, almost crushing weight of despondency in the air. I live in the heart of flyover America, and you can see it in the landscape: the vacant main streets, the neighborhoods full of decrepit housing, vacant, burnout factories, derelict farms with barns falling down, and parasitic Walmarts and other national chain stores on the edge of every town. The opioid epidemic is just a reflection of the unspeakably empty and purposeless times we’re living in. In the foreseeable future I think society will only become more grim, more joyless, more isolated, more controlled and hypermanaged, and more censurious. Despite the jubilations of the “utopian-progressives” ie Steven Pinker and his ilk, it seems that people today are as depressed, anxious, and fearful as they’ve ever been.

Because it is.

You know I kind of get what you’re saying I spent a weekend in Peoria, IL about a year ago and it was incredible, it literally felt like the city was crumbling around me. That was my first and so far only opportunity to see the urban decay that I’ve read so much about.

I don’t have a solution but I don’t see how people stay there I was glad to get back to the West. I haven’t seen that kind of thing in my travels in the South or Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina area of the East Coast. The only place I’ve been that felt similar was Lousiana and that more feels like the swamp is taking back land stolen from it.

I spent a month in Muncie one afternoon.

I spent 24 hours in Peoria, about 18 years ago. Honestly, it felt that way to me then.

Yeah, I don’t think “society” or “the times” or “people today” are any particular way. Some places are grim and joyless, sure. It’s also the case that, depending on how old you are, when you’re comparing today with the past, you’re either comparing it with an imaginary, idealized version of the past that you never experienced yourself, or a past that you did experience back when you were younger and more optimistic, so a lot of the grim parts either didn’t register or you’ve forgotten about them.

This is not to say that there are not real and serious problems facing us today, but every era in history has felt uniquely grim and apocalyptic to the people living in it, at least those who are temperamentally disposed to feel that way about the world.

I don’t know what the US is really like. Soon after the collapse of communism, my brother went to America, graduated university, and became a happy family man in Tennessee. He talks as though the US were heaven on earth.

My cable TV teems with American reality shows in which I am often surprised to get the feel the OP mentions. I’m sure the US is doing just fine. It just may be that the American dream is defunct at the moment.

Because the media distorts things and focuses on the negative. The truth is that we’re living in the most secure, safest, peaceful, prosperous time - by far - in human history. Wars are at an all-time low. Most people’s lives are miles, miles better than even just merely half a century ago, thanks to technology. The U.S. economy, overall, is doing pretty well (although it might be a tax-cut sugar rush.) Sure, some people are suffering, but there’ll always be some people suffering no matter what.

You have no idea how similar your words here are with the Communist propaganda I had to ingest as a child. Of course, they also mentioned “scientific planning.”

In threads like this, the progressive-utopians and techno-utopians always show up and expose themselves.

Our family doesn’t watch news or shows that focus on negative aspects. I was referring to shows like the one in which people buy beach houses. The beaches where people buy their houses (in various locations, of course) are often deserted while the houses that they afford don’t look too great. “Catfish” also comes to mind, where there are no people in the parks, city blocks lack activity, and the suburbs look strangely empty. In restaurants and cafes, most tables are empty. I may be highly subjective, but I think for a European this mood is at least slightly unsettling. I have traveled (by car) to many European countries, and at any time of the day places teem with people, customers, tourists, students, passersby, etc. In Catfish, the only places where you can see real activity is the highway and the airport. Shows focusing on restaurants and street food are the only ones where you can see happy people having a good time in their natural environment.

Not to mention the fact that atheists are immune to mythical thinking.

It isn’t just the midwest, by the way. Although the coasts are filled with capitalist hustle and boom, if you ask people, they feel a lot more anxious about everything, even the successful ones.

Between the rise of fascism and all its horrors everywhere, the accelerating damage to the fabric of the planet that even the willfully oblivious are getting an inkling of at long last, the burden of overwhelming debt that young people at least in the US stagger under, probably for the rest of their lives, there’s a lot to be angry and depressed about. And there’s plenty more, those are just some of the largest ones.

But it’s truer though. 2020 is different than 1970.

You know TV isn’t real, right?

Right, they staged the deserted beaches and the empty parks. :rolleyes:

2020 is different from 1970 all over the world. But the question is why things seem to be a bit off in the USA these days?

No, they filmed during off hours, when there wouldn’t be random people cluttering the beaches and parks. Or they blocked off an area for shooting. I don’t know, and I’m not going to watch a lot of shitty TV to find out, but I can’t believe you are naive enough to believe what you see on TV.

OK, if just the past few years:

[li]Media thrives on negativity, hate, despair and grief - it keeps the media pulse humming, drives up the ratings[/li][li]Trump makes everyone’s emotions intense - regardless of whether you love him or hate him[/li][li]Now, every shooting, crime, etc. can be published nationwide within minutes and everyone gets a steady dose of school shootings, atrocity this, ridiculous story that, “Florida Man,”[/li][li]Trump’s presidency has essentially been a 24/7/365 nonstop scandal train[/li][/ul]

They aren’t. This is entirely in your (and the OP’s) head.

Of course there are bleak areas. But I’m old enough to remember driving through dying Northeast towns like Hartford in the 70’s, not to mention the decay that was NYC. Industrial bleakness is as old as industry and certainly isn’t limited to the US. It gave Dickens his career.

There is something off in the US politically, as our democracy is dying (Trump is a symptom of this, not the cause) But as far as general social life goes, it’s the same as it ever was, for better or worse.

Fuck, at least the OP lives here, and isn’t getting his impressions from shitty “reality” TV, which is less realistic than Star Trek.