I find it interesting when college students rant – and in the case of The University of Missouri – go on hunger strikes because they claim to need “safe spaces”. Bereft of any sense of irony, they are actually crying out for safe spaces inside a safe space.
Newsflash kiddies – university life is not real life, it once was a safe place for intellectual and social experimentation and a place where a veritable cornucopia of ideas were available for the asking. This “safe space” was staffed with people called “professors” who were there to facilitate discussions of widely varying ideas and to aid the student to find their way to a personal philosophy that would prepare them for the world outside the relatively safe academic world.
A university experience and a college education was intended to harden the student through independence and knowledge in preparation for the real world – but as the resignation of Tim Wolfe (Missouri’s president) proves, universities fit this definition no longer.
I’ve been thinking about the increase in the “special snowflake syndrome” over the past few months and how stark the differences are between the “protests” today and what happened back in the 60’s. In the 60’s the fight was about freedom of expression – fighting for the right to expresses themselves in the face of a restrictive and oppressive establishment structure, aka “The Man”. Today is just the opposite – they want to implement a rigid establishment structure to prevent having to listen to any information that challenges their bias – they don’t want to eliminate “The Man”, they want to become him.
It occurs to me that there is a segment of the collective student body that is not happy unless they are unhappy. It is some sort of weird nexus of sadomasochism and progressive asceticism. They claim to dislike pain but try seeking happiness in making others unhappy by establishing an expectation of strict adherence to a progressive ideology based on postmodernism. I know that is a complex concept to contemplate due to the massive contradictions in that one sentence.
Think of it in these terms:
- They revel in pain yet are perpetually aggrieved and offended by, and afraid of, everything.
- They claim to want to end problems but do so by inflicting pain on others.
- They demand strict compliance to the rules of engagement of their progressive religion, a functional impossibility when those rules are based on an ideology that claims all existence is merely perception and there are no rules.
If you think about it, that is enough to permanently damage the calm of any young skull full of mush.
At Psychology Today, I ran across an article titled “Are You Addicted to Unhappiness?” This article (found here), listed characteristics of the chronically unhappy (I just picked a few, the full article is worth a read):
- Find reasons to be miserable when life gets “too good.”
- Prefer to play the victim role and blame others rather than take personal responsibility for their choices.
- Compete with friends and colleagues to see who has it the hardest.
- Have difficulty setting and achieving goals, or conversely achieve goals only to find that they can’t enjoy their success.
- Struggle to bounce back when things don’t go their way.
- Feel enslaved to their emotions and powerless to change.
- Feel dissatisfied even when life is going well.
- Have dramatic, unfulfilling relationships.
The perpetually aggrieved are essentially consumers of unhappiness – it is as essential to them as food, clothing and shelter are to the rest of us. I was taught that the world was filled with beauty and it is natural to seek good feeling and pleasure – not necessarily to be hedonistic, but to be happy. Even the Declaration of Independence lists the “Pursuit of Happiness” right up there with life and liberty and yet these snowflakes pursue unhappiness. They have created this Hobbesian universe where pain, oppression and discord rule the day – but isn’t this what progressivism teaches? That there is only envy, rich people are only rich because they are stealing from the poor, earth’s climate is doomed due to capitalists willing allow factories to belch smoke into the air and deadly chemicals into the rivers for nothing other than naked profit and everybody hates everybody else?
There does seem to be a proclivity for certain people to seek out pleasure through negative experiences.
Let me take a page from the progressive playbook and learn you some science.
In a very interesting 2007 study of the popularity of horror films and horrific videogames conducted by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida), they noted that:
“We believe that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for people’s willingness to consume “negative” experiences (both of which assume that people can not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order. The assumption of people’s inability to experience positive and negative affect at the same time is incorrect.”
In other words, Andrade and Cohen argue that horror movie viewers are happy to be unhappy, that people experience both negative and positive emotions simultaneously and people may actually enjoy being scared, not just relief when the threat is removed. As the authors put it, “the most pleasant moments of a particular event may also be the most fearful.”
Like the horror movie loving subjects of the aforementioned study, these student special snowflakes grow up to be adults who are consumers of unhappiness. They don’t feel pleasure, at least in the normal sense because they can only be satisfied by more unhappiness. When people are satisfied to be happy in their unhappiness, the future is meaningless and people are willing to be ruled by any person or government that promises to at least spread the unhappiness equally.
This, my friends, is the legacy of progressivism.