A few weeks ago, my local newspaper ran a human-interest story about a man playing the accordion near a train station. The story went on for an entire page, talking about his life history, for how long he had been playing near the same station etc. The newspaper story went on and on about his family back home across Europe, yet they failed to take sufficient notice of a glaring fact. Why would you spend precious space in your newspaper on such an inconsequential story such as this? Are street musicians really the most important thing going on right now? If you are going to cover the topic of this particular man, perhaps you should ask yourself as a journalist if the actual story perhaps might be the fact that this man travelled across the continent in order to receive petty cash for playing music. What does this tell us about the labor market in his home country? In what universe does it make sense to travel so far away from your wife and children in order to scrape out a living in a concrete tunnel? What does this tell us about the state of the European Union, especially as it relates to opportunities for work in an age of a huge demographic influx from the Third World.
Contemporary Westerners have become disconnected from the big questions. We attain satisfaction from inconsequential drivel, perhaps best illustrated from the rise of social media, mindless consumerism and Netflix. Entertainment technology has become so advanced as to threaten societal cohesion and a healthy concern for societal developments. I’m as much in the crosshairs of this criticism as anyone else. I’ve partaken of the opportunities for escapism granted by everything from the home computer, video games and television. Yet, I’m not as hopelessly lost as many seem to be. Although I’ve indulged in more series binging, video game playing and so on than hindsight would recommend, I’ve also directed time resources into book reading and getting informed.
We really are asking a lot of teenagers and young adults who were born and grew up after the end of the Cold War. The false sense of security granted by the intermission between the struggle between freedom and communism, and the struggle between the Western world and terrorism was impactful on the cultural climate those children grew up with. They have little reason to worry about deeper things than which of their friends liked a social media post, what series they will watch next as they stuff their pimpled faces with yet another bag of potato chips. In my country more so than elsewhere, the domestic political scene is supremely boring. The differences between the parties aren’t that great, blandness and going along to get along are rewarded. The big questions are obscured by small and petty concerns that nobody will care about a decade hence.
Just because we care about the small details to the detriment of the all-encompassing grand visions necessary to protect our fragile status quo of semi-freedom and prosperity doesn’t mean that this neglect won’t be immensely destructive. The objective state of the world doesn’t care one iota about intent, sentiment or feelings. One plus one equals two, and a massive influx of low-skilled cheap labor through the migrant crisis will have devastating destructive rippling effects throughout the European labor market. In the movie “Titanic” the orchestral band played their lovely music all until the cold and dark Atlantic Ocean swallowed the ship entirely.
The immediate and long-term fallout from alcoholism, drug abuse, delinquent criminal behavior and so on are clear to us. Yet, the new vice menacing our streets is the dopamine enthralled bondage our critical thinking faculties are suppressed by. Smartphones mean that Netflix, social media dopamine hits and other inconsequential time sinks are more easily available than any street drug, cheap beer or any other cheap thrill that used to be the scourge of its day. The vacuum in politics created by the absence of the masses is being filled by those with a penchant for so-called social justice, and who get dopamine hits of their own when they censor, put down their political opposition, and when they invite the destruction and degradation of the very society that allowed them the freedom to speak and live in the first place.