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Monday, May 4, 2020

Stressed Out Millennials

You’ve heard the song “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots, right? Catchy tune. Memorable lyrics, like…

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink
But now I'm insecure and I care what people think

And then that chorus…

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out

And what seems to drive the fears and insecurity of these youngins’? It’s captured, in part, by this lyric: “My name's Blurryface and I care what you think.”

Tyler Joseph, the lead singer, is 32 years old. Welcome to Millennial-World. He has tons of companions. One of them, most likely not an acquaintance, is Laurie Penny. She’s 33. Laurie’s an English journalist and columnist who has written for a broad range of publications. Including Wired Magazine. That’s where I came across her talent.

I was captivated by her struggling life story, trying to sort out the meaning and value of productivity in the COVID era. I also felt sorry for her and any of her millennial ride-alongs who share her pain. She offers far too many pull quotes to summarize. If my blog stirs your interest, I recommend you read "Productivity is not Working" in its entirety. The link is below.

A few of her observations must be noted. She writes in her opening, “How shall we stay productive when the world is going to hell?…How should we self-optimize when we’re suddenly having to meet our deadlines with our roommates, kids, and inner critics screaming in the background?” Do I hear an “Amen?”
Poor Ms. Penny feels the trap of productivity. For the last ten years of her life, when asked about her well-being, she offers a run-down of her work performance for the day. She’s not alone. “When I check in with friends and family far away, I usually get an update on how productive they have or have not managed to be since we last spoke,” says Laurie.

She continues, “Frantic productivity is a fear response…for 21st-century humans in general and millennial humans in particular, as we’ve collectively awoken from the American dream with a strange headache and a stack of bills to pay.”

I don’t know how wide of a swath her friendship circle cuts. But Laurie has seen and heard enough to believe her generation sees “relentless work” as the way to deal with crisis. Sad.

Then she offers a startling personal view on “religion.”

Referencing the Great Plagues of the 14th century, which wiped out half of Europe, Ms. Penny believes the Black Death also undermined the power of religion. She writes, “As broken communities surveyed the mounds of corpses, wondering what sins could possibly be proportional to this sort of punishment, they started to lose faith in God—and the Medieval Church began to lose power as an organizing force in everyday life.” (People always blame God for pain. Never the Evil One.)

Will this virus, which has been the major contributor to the current economic disaster in America, fuel a new loss of faith? Maybe, as she suggests, not in the church, but in modern capitalism? Laurie Penny wonders, “If frantic productivity is a fear response, the opposite urge—to tear it all up and declare deadline bankruptcy—feels like blasphemy.” Further she opines, “This is exactly the sort of crisis that gives people ideas about overturning the social order.” Excuse me???

The prophet Jeremiah warned the once self-sufficient people of Israel this way, “You are proud of your fertile valleys, but they will soon be ruined. You trusted in your wealth, you rebellious daughter, and thought no one could ever harm you.” Jeremiah 49:4 (NLT)

Wrong-O. COVID-19 has brought us a hard lesson. Wealth cannot save us. Productivity cannot save us. Government power cannot save us. Only God can intervene to save us.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out

Ain’t it the truth.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

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