Pondering on the conundrum that is modern life

Lately I’ve been in a pretty funny mood. And not funny as in haha, funny queer. Queer as in odd…

Do you ever get the feeling your life is already over? Like you’re personally losing your own battle within a whole society that’s caged by a rapidly-changing and crippling culture? I do sometimes.

Sometimes I get to thinking about that notion put forth by Erich Fromm where we’re proving caught up in following unrealistic fantasies that are not truly feasible options, certainly not at this point, but we do this because we, individually and collectively, don’t want to have to make the hard choices that require big sacrifices. We’d rather sell our souls and hold our breath and pray some external force might someday intervene. Comforts have made more and more people soft-bellies over the last several generations, myself most definitely included there. With soft bellies comes cowardliness. But that’s not to say non-aggressiveness necessarily.

Teddy Roosevelt has been accredited with remarking on this problem over a century ago with the following statement:

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life.


Theodore Roosevelt wrote these words in 1903:

There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man’s heart and soul, the man’s worth and actions, determine his standing.


Sadly, we dropped the ball on that one, and right out the gate. Heart and soul, worth and actions, should be what people are esteemed for, but look around. Elite families of ill-repute wield inordinate power in the political and economic/corporate spheres. Who’s deemed deserving of celebrity status these days is a frickin’ joke more often than not.

And how many of us were even raised to keep such principles in mind? I know I wasn’t and find myself far behind the curve the more aware I become of what’s actually valuable and what’s a waste of time and effort. In my estimate, most of what generations of us have been taught to believe is bunk and leads to nowhere worth being. And yet we’re saturated with that shit after having come up steeped in it for years on end, to where it becomes a serious question of what we’re capable of doing at this point, both when it comes to transforming ourselves and wider society and its current trajectory.

It’s a serious question as to what possibly can be done now, at this hour, when we’re up not only against concerns of sacrifice but also have been invaded with legal red tape that effectively ties our hands and restricts our choices. Does this not call for a revolution to undo what’s been done? And yet, such an event would be attended by a relatively small minority who would be stomped out by police and military forces and turned over by their fellow citizens in the name of patriotism. So political revolt seems impossible, especially when so many would rather protect this status quo since it’s all they know than place faith in an angry, anarchistic mob polluted with individuals with no clear direction for the future beyond that single action. In a society where the citizens have grown extremely dependent on services, goods, and aid provided by the government and major corporations, to fight our government is to leave ourselves open to direct corporate rule — true, full-blown corporatism, sans the political puppetry. That doesn’t look like a solution so much as a bigger and worse problem, and so-called “libertarians” who support such an agenda should properly label themselves as corporatists instead.

But fighting through the legal channels is proving an expensive, time-consuming nightmare where even if you do win out, nothing stops those who oppose you from continuing their fight until on down the line they’ve managed to sway the balance the other way. It’s a game, a teeter-totter. What can be accomplished through that, especially when the masses lack the funds to go toe-to-toe with anything backed by major corporations in a legal battle? In this way, the proper legal channels are proving to be more of an obstruction than a route to justice.

So what then? Boil it back down to one’s own life and still we feel swept with the tide. Pressured into accepting technologies we’d rather ignore. Pressed to spend more and more money on anything and everything. Drummed into a stupor by the news and its threats of war and fear of crime and never-ending list of potential traps to look out for, from con-men shenanigans to consumer review nightmares. Which gets us clamoring for more government oversight/police protection, which then has led to domestic police forces being beefed up nearly to military standards in some cities. Try to protect yourselves and find out how much red tape can restrict you there too, depending on where you live and what methods you employ.

Then we see gender relations all mucked up and women being encouraged to utilize the avenues presented by the State to extort, creating an atmosphere of mistrust between the sexes, as well as among the kids they bring up in the middle of their drama. And that sort of experience can leave scars on all involved. Not that it takes the power of the State to create problems in American families — plenty do fine in creating chaos and suffering all on their own without the State’s help or interference, even where it may have been warranted and even needed. Life seems to go that way sometimes…

I don’t know. I’m not sure what the “good” worth striving for is at this hour.

There’s plenty more I can say on this topic, and I will as time rolls on, but this is enough rambling for tonight.

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4 Responses to Pondering on the conundrum that is modern life

  1. Janet says:

    You sure have a lot of guts to say what you think & feel. I left a comment on one of your many videos that I’ve been finding super interesting, & I thought it sounded dumb so I deleted it. I so feel your pain though. I’ve been through the college loan scam too, but you know what?! I needed my college experience SO BAD, no one taught me anything about life, problem solving skills, etc. yet many of my college courses didn’t either. However I had a great professor who took me under his wing and got me all caught up with computers, of which all I could do before was check email & write a paper on. Also, being around people who are trying to learn, (not most of ’em) but more often then not there was one or two in a class, or a professor who changed my mind, expanded my world view, etc. There was this feeling of going somewhere & why would learning be a bad thing? Well, leave it to this country to turn a good thing into a life destroying experience. I needed my education, or I would be dead in the water, the thing thing is thanks to my education, I am dead in the water! Either way I’m dead. It seems there are so many people around, who don’t have the ability for insight, the system just hasn’t gotten to them or because of sheer ignorance, they can’t & won’t see what is happening. They need me to pretend & just put on a happy face, YET every time I’ve tried to do that, “that red tape,” you speak of ties me down. I’d like to pretend it will all be o.k., but it doesn’t work & it hasn’t been o.k. most of my life! Every time I think I find a way forward, it gets blocked & stopped. It feels hopeless! Its like I’m always just getting set up for the knock down. I’m working physically, mentally harder then I ever have in my life, in the most unhealthiest state of being I’ve ever been, & I’m just working to have room & board. Also utilizing food banks for food within the past few years. It sucks. But I could never accept food stamps, & Fuck JP Morgan too who profit off of that whole game!
    What good is there to strive for, when survival is so hard to come by.

    Maybe all you can do is take comfort in the people in your life who are around you & care about you & understand things. If you even have those people! It sounds like you do, so you are lucky for that. Right now I don’t have anyone to talk to about this shit. Its very frustrating. I don’t want to lay all my shit on a stranger, so I’m keeping this short, however you are one of the most perceptive women I’ve seen online, pretty much ever! So God bless you for putting important thoughts out there. Women are usually always worst enemies just like Chris Rock said. When ever I had a boyfriend, it was my friends I had to worry about more than him! UGH. I don’t have to worry about that anymore, Laugh/Cry. Nothing turns everyone off like sheer poverty! I used to be able to pull off financially o.k. appearances SO WELL, when I could barely afford food (still there but) all the beautiful people would always tell me I needed a new car or a new apartment, etc., even if they knew my salary, while they were making close to six figures or above, they would just pretend not to know, I was barely affording what I had! SO I went back to college because every job I wanted to apply for needed a Bachelor’s just to make $30,000 a year! Oh & then “they,” changed all the rules again, but you already know that.

    Its a relief I’m not the only female out there with critical thinking skills.
    You are not alone woman, I just wish there were more of us. & You are right, how can we compete with such financial giants? Its impossible unless the entire country rose up at the same time! Not likely.

    Take Care, Janet

    • Byenia says:

      “I needed my college experience SO BAD, no one taught me anything about life, problem solving skills, etc. yet many of my college courses didn’t either.”

      Word. I know exactly how that goes. And I’m continuing to search for answers that have thus far eluded me.

      Quality professors and informative friends are a godsend, most definitely.

      The student loan scam has done a number on so many of us and threatens to undermine the value of higher education entirely in the eyes of American citizens, especially younger folks wishing to avoid this financial trap.

      It’s so true that people are expecting us to slap on a smile and pretend all is fine, and that’s just not cutting it anymore. I refuse to play that game. It’s just a means of making people feel comfortable while this ship goes down, and though I’m not convinced there’s probably a whole lot we can even do at this point to rectify all the absurdities ingrained in our System on countless levels, we don’t have to pretend to be blind and roll over and play dead and let this bullshit steamroll us while we feign ignorance. We at least have that choice.

      As for “red tape,” yup, we’re being obstructed practically every direction we turn nowadays. Either legally or in terms of social ramifications or whatever else. It’s a real conundrum.

      As for the situation feeling hopeless and your trials in dealing with it, I’m very sorry. It is a tough dilemma, as you know, and it sounds like you’re having a hard time coping within this maze. I worry about that a lot too as health issues crop up to threaten my livelihood, wondering what the future will hold. I wish I had some positive words to provide comfort, but I’m coming to divorce myself more and more from the bullshit so far as I’m able and am at a loss for knowing how to help others much at this juncture. I’m sorry. My own thinking on the matter is that it’s vital that we form alliances where possible and pool resources as we’re able to do so, being as fair as we can with those we’re able to trust and mutually work with. I honestly don’t know what else to do right now beyond that. To me, the future is very bleak, hence why I will not be having children and why I am not interested in living to old age. That may sound defeated, and perhaps it is, but I find some sort of comfort in just satiating my curiosity by examining what’s going on and looking to something bigger (so to speak) than our human-made constructs and crazy-making maze we call modern life.

      I do have a few friends and family members I care very much for, though not all of them are interested in delving into these sorts of topics, which is to be expected. It’s very daunting and draining for most folks, from what I can tell. The closest men in my life work very hard and destroy their bodies in the process just to get by, and a couple of them are pretty damned depressed with life. But I do think we’re still fortunate to at least to have found each other, even if it’s a struggle working it out with one another at times, and even if we can’t ultimately greatly improve one another’s situation. I get to feeling bad for bringing up what I’m observing and thinking about to them since it can bring further down and make them worry and feel all the more trapped. Hence why I’m taking it to the internet in order to vent off these frustrations so that I’m not so heavy for them to deal with. Which probably isn’t terribly helpful to the strangers I run across online, but what else can one do? I don’t know.

      Honey, if you need to vent things out and talk to someone, feel free to come on here and say whatever you’d like. There’s no problem in that. We all need people to interact with and feel supported by — I understand that. And if you’d prefer to email me directly, please do so: byenia@gmail.com Can’t promise I can do much in the way of helping, but I can read and listen and interact and offer any ideas that come to mind. You’re not alone in this. There’s a whole sea of people out here struggling today, though plenty like to play stoic and not let on how worried they really are. But you can speak your piece here, that’s no problem at all.

      Women aren’t usually too good to one another, it’s true. lol And I struggle with that too sometimes, as someone who’s not too popular with other ladies. 😉

      What you describe there about people encouraging you to pursue material wealth and creature comforts is something I ran up against a bunch too. Hence why I’m not a huge fan of the middle class, seeing as how they don’t seem to comprehend the realities confronting people who are not in their positions and are quick to blame folks for lacking ambition and not working hard enough or whatever else to justify the disparities. It’s very aggravating to deal, absolutely.

      Yeah, I’m getting more and more to the point of saying fuck it, let the financial giants inherit the Earth. Fuck ’em. Doesn’t mean we have to be their slaves though. They want to play this game, then perhaps they should play it alone or with the sheep willing to go along with their schemes. We don’t all have to, tough as that is to reckon with. We always do have options, even if they are unsavory to contemplate. And that’s when I wind up turning people off big-time with my viewpoints. ha But seriously, fuck ’em. They only have the power that people invest in them. Without people to exploit, they are nothing, so it’s a question of how we get around them so far as we’re able to.

      Anyway, thanks for the feedback, Janet. And do take care.

  2. Real Michaud says:

    Read the book “Between Two Ages: America’s role in the Technetronic Era” by Zbigniew Brzezinski There is lots in there that explain your frustration with this modern life, or as I’d like to call it we do live in a “post-modern” world at least in the West with its cornucopia of decadence.

    • Byenia says:

      Hi RM,

      I’m a little familiar with Brzezinski so far as his talks go. Haven’t read anything from him yet (which would probably be a lot easier to understand than his accent has proven to be, haha). Got a mountain of books already that I’ve been neglecting, but I’ll add that title to my wishlist. Thanks for the tip. 😉

      I’ve always been hesitant with the term “post-modern.” And maybe I need to rethink why that is. Because we’re definitely in something brand-new, unprecedented, and the wisdom of old can’t really help us much in navigating it.

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