Is Society Conditioning Us To Give Up?  The Cost of Human Devaluing

Is Society Conditioning Us To Give Up? The Cost of Human Devaluing

How many *trigger warnings* for ‘suicide’ are too many? 

We are 7 months into 2024, and there are an alarming number of headlines of suicide everyday. Every second headline is a trigger warning about death by suicide.

How many headlines are too many? How many deaths are alarmingly concerning?

Suicide is a major national public health issue in India. In 2022, a staggering  1.71 lakh suicides were recorded, which is a 4.2% increase over 2021 and a significant jump of 27% compared to 2018.

Hopelessness is seen in diverse populations - farmers, employees, students, actors, etc. The number of documentaries highlighting the pressure of academic competition, financial desperation, and other factors  has increased and gives us a glance of how human value is perceived. Are we really just going to blame circumstances? Or do we need to start taking action?

For me, processing the news can trigger a mental shut down. My  mind goes numb, thoughts of “what’s the point in anything?” creeps in, and eventually, I find myself avoiding the news altogether. 

The recurrent question that haunts my mind is - What is creating this hopeless space of human devaluing? 

Society has undeniably changed over the last two decades. Life is more fast paced, we are hyper connected in our world of instant feedback loops. Our phones introduce us to two  seemingly competitive realities: our real and virtual worlds. While I won’t suggest one is superior, more technology has not eased the rat race rather it has intensified it.

We  focus more on progress and achievement  and less on recognition; hard work is measured by outcomes and finances. In this environment human value highly  focuses on reputation, how much you earn, how much you spend, etc. How a person gets this and the toll it takes on the quality of life is not considered, whether we are happy, content, supported and feeling well tends to not be of relevance. There is no consideration of an  individual's well-being and their wants or desires. It is not about the person you are any more, it is constantly about what you are doing, what is your output and what you bring to the table and how well you succeed in a highly competitive world. 

If you don't fit into this created space then you do not belong, you are not valuable. The repercussions for it seems like shame. This ‘shame’ attacks your core  leaving us feeling valueless. 

In a space like this where we are constantly reminded about what we lack,  it’s easy to get lost,feel lost, lose ourselves or lose sight of ourselves or beyond the material value we bring into this world. 

What can we do to create a space that is mindful of our value and cultivates hope? 

Empathy & Compassion

Progress and outcomes can move us away from traits like kindness, gratitude, compassion, empathy, making us less human. If you deeply introspect on what kind of environment would help you feel more accepted, cared for, nurtured, supported, excited, etc, what kind of space would that be?Are you  actively working towards creating it for yourself and others? 

Normalizing Negative Emotions

Emotions are often segregated into two categories- “good” and “bad”. We tend to judge our emotions rather than  understanding how they actually make us feel. Unfortunately, negative emotions get a bad reputation leading us to avoid recognizing their appropriateness in certain situations. When we try to suppress them and constantly  hear from everyone not to feel them; these very normal emotions start to elicit shame and we become critical of ourselves for experiencing them. The helplessness that comes from trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid and “get over” these emotions starts creating a cycle of hopelessness. We need to normalize that these “negative” emotions are just as important as any other emotion, and there is space for these emotions in our lives as well as for others who feel them. 

Valuing Humanness Over Achievement & Capitalism 

What you have and how much of it defines how valuable you are in the world. This completely negates the aspect of who you are. Seeing beyond the capitalist world and focusing more on the human side would undoubtedly open us up to an environment that is conducive to nurturing our existence. Can we redefine and reframe our own definitions of success and value, while also tapping into our human side? 

We need to create space where we are more than mere outcomes. 

Where we as people are valuable simply by existing. 

Do you think you can see beyond how much you can do or be? 

Can we preserve human value more by seeing individuals rather than their outcomes? 

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