If there is one word that characterizes modern life, to me, it is sterility. The world is abundantly sterile, and it is only becoming more so as we strive towards stability and progress.
Our photos are publicly curated on Instagram, offered up for review in split-second likes and quips by other internet paparazzi. Stock market data and search results flow in real-time, to be analyzed at light speed by state of the art systems for market indicators and consumer sentiment. We page through reviews for everything we buy or do, for fear that we might stumble into an experience naturally. Our lives are fully digitized and Equifax'ed, and we are able to triage disease with intense digital bookkeeping. We wait decades as adults to get married and have kids; after all, we are too busy with our own financial security to bring others into the equation. Everything we own is warrantied, QC'd, guaranteed, and hotfixed, and it is all abundantly more consistent in appearance and functionality than we ourselves often are.
Anxiety, and especially obsessional tendencies, are related to preoccupations with sterility and disgust. This is helpful to learn, if you were not already aware, because we can start piecing together how our own fixations are bound to the notion that we or our circumstances might be perceived as non-sterile, incompatible, or even disgusting. I know that I have grappled with many of these thoughts. My blog often touches on these concepts, in part as a way to contend with and voyeuristically engage with them. It's also helpful to know that many people aren't even anxious about one specific thing, but instead will run through a laundry list, ruminating, and looking for something to worry about. Pay attention to this, because I find that it usually means I need to turn the dial down a bit so that I can remain focused and effective. A lifetime of rumination is mind-numbing, and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. And yet, here we are, together, in this nervous tic.
It seems that we are brought into this perception-game with nothing but a prayer. We are plainly and simply raised to be obsessional, and hyper-focused. In a world of 99.999% SLAs, I wonder often if we can afford not to be.
The US economy just recovered from the greatest recession since World War II, in record time, with a historical 33% quarterly growth in GDP. Meanwhile, COVID still lurks, and we are going into an election that lots of people are either really happy about or really unhappy about.
This machine we have built is sterile and sealed, to the fullest degree; truly and simply larger than life.