I recently learned the word “zeitgeist”, perhaps I’m late to the party but nonetheless, this word holds a great fascination for me. Its meaning in the dictionary is “the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.” According to a google search, it’s usage has only increased with time and is ever increasing. One reasoning is definitely the rapid growth of social media and the virality of content and in this case the “spirit” or “mood” of the people around certain things.
If we have to see the zeitgeist of our times in a negative way, quite in sync with what it is, then we can come to a conclusion that cynicism is at its pinnacle, even though this has been the case since the 1950’s, but at this moment cynicism is turning from a “mood” to the “spirit” of people which is notably turning into an unshakeable belief on various matters. Emma Stone commented during the premiere of her new musical “La La Land” that, “I think young people have fallen into cynicism, and making fun of things, and pointing out the flaws in everything.”, which is quite right considering the escalation of the usage of memes even against sensitive topics.
Stephen Colbert said “Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us.” This can hold true on many occasions but if a point is to be made for the cynics they would counter that “they are not seeing but observing the reality”.
“Some people go to the movies to be reminded that everything’s okay. I don’t make those kinds of movies. That, to me, is a lie. Everything’s not okay.” — David Fincher.
If we look around the world we will find destruction, loneliness, depression and mass paranoia of not knowing anything about anything, so are icons like David Fincher right in their curiosity to observe reality in the name of cynicism? He proves his point by showing a statistic that 50 per cent marriages in America fail which seems to be the crux of Gone Girl.Essentially he is seeing the glass half empty but not because he wants it to be half empty but more so to make people become aware of the half empty glass and fill it after bursting of their bubbles.
A case against cynicism can be made that because the destruction and the power struggle has a bigger voice it is heard more often and the good gets submerged in the process. If you open youtube and see the frequency of hate comments on some of the videos in regards to trivial topics like someone’s idol has grown a beard or is dating some douche of a girl, you start to wonder when do people stop thinking about the power of cynicism they carry. How much longer should they thrust it on the people who see the glass as half full?
Saying yes does things and saying no forbids them. If I was negative about my decision to write this post due to the fact that I have very limited experience in writing then I would have just consumed content instead of being a part of the creation of it but the very fact that I am being a cynic and writing both for and against cynicism is altogether a paradox in itself.
Information overload plays a big role in the spirit of our times. We live in a time where the content that our forefathers took years to build, we are consuming it in months and this has been made possible due to this very information that is overloading our brains.
Social acceptance also is a crucial part of the zeitgeist. We care about people’s opinions yet we scream we do not. Facebook provides us with the chance of our own personal Rolling Stone cover yet we negate people who publicise themselves. In an age where people want to become famous without talent, it has become far easier for them.
The crux of our zeitgeist according to me is not cynicism, information overload or being socially acceptable. The zeitgeist of our times is “paradox” or “contradiction” or … “confusion”…
We love to hate capitalism but we hate to admit love for the benefits it provides.
We love to hate the limelight but we hate to admit love when people praise our creations or even our appraisal of other people’s creations.
We love to hate the internet for its fallacies but we hate to admit love for the advancement of the spread of knowledge and the speed of it all.
The zeitgeist of our times is the paradox of our mind, our thinking. It is the change we feel in our ideologies after a month or a year, it is the contradictory behaviour we exhibit with our politically correct answers or rather for our age, politically incorrect answers but radiating in our actions the opposite.
We multiply our possessions and decrease the value of those in possession earlier. For our generation, the collective uncertainty is much more prominent than singular clarity.
For some, it is thinking from different viewpoints which can assist in making an informed decision, for some, it is your inability to stick to one viewpoint.
We wait to grow out of this paradox. I hope we grow out of this paradox.
Or maybe we should not. Maybe this defines human nature.
The paradox of our time.
This is an article I wrote in 2016 but I realised I never posted it on the blog. I felt that it’s still relevant so thought to post it here. Hope you liked it!