Low mood and bitterness - BS & eco-anxiety
Note to the readers: this article has been "work-in-progress" for months and months. It's dealing with positive and negative emotions and the motivation to write and work on sustainability, and it's been taking some time to really find the right words to express myself properly. I will try to keep a certain idea of time below.
"Are you following what is going on at the G7?", my friend asked me last week as we were digging in the chocolate cake. The sky was dark, and a thunderstorm was showing off its flashes far far away.
I sighed, and answered negatively.
As we were talking, random people all over the world were spitting their venom against a 16-year old trying to change the world and crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat. The Amazon Forest was burning like it never had, and the Brazilian president was without any guilt blaming NGOs for the fires he was obviously not condemning. To my greatest surprise (and a giant silent facepalm), I also discovered a study highlighting that recycling is a female-driven activity as "men’s willingness to engage in green behaviors can be influenced by threatening or affirming their masculinity, as well as by using masculine rather than conventional green branding" (Brough et al, 2016).
At the beginning of the year, I fell surprisingly un-inspired and powerless as I was preparing the articles for OUTSIDE THE BOX. Like a burn-out syndrom, a blank page in front my eyes despite a list of ideas of people to interview and topics to address here. This was a big surprise to me: I have always liked writing, and giving a voice to great, inspiring people has been an amazing driver of motivation and change to me.
But this time...nothing. No words, close to a lack of interest for a topic that I suddenly considered a lost cause. And this feeling invited itself again during the summer.
With the greatest surprise I discovered the concept of "eco-anxiety", which can be defined as "a relatively new psychological affliction [which] is a chronic fear of environmental doom -- the concern that increasing human development and pollution are leading us into an inevitable scourge of floods, famines, heat waves, species extinctions, and ultimately, the demise of our planet".
I had obviously not even considered this could be the source of my lack of motivation. After all, sustainable development has been driving my studies, my professional aspirations, my hobbies and my lifestyle for years. But it clearly did make sense. Why would I bother and feed my own hopes with external negativity? Why would I lack empowerement suddenly, and question the reasons of my commitments, both private and professional?
Eco-anxiety. This has, it seems, been the reason of these up-and-downs.
And it seems that this feeling has been the krypronite of a new generation who feels powerless against one of the biggest crisis modern humanity will face in the coming decades.
To find out why, and especially how to get rid of it, I looked into what I do (my work, my habits...) and what in this world potentially influences my thinking (relatives, friends, external opinions, news, etc...). Triggers can sometimes be the solutions themselves.
Mine are actually fairly simple to point out. I am a news-lover. This has been a reflex as long as I have been living on my own and working: the first thing I do will be to read the news on various media. Radio is the principal one, TV once in a while, newspapers and magazines (my subscription to The Economist is the one of the most valued present I ever received and had followed me through all the countries we lived in), and social media, particularly Twitter.
While I try as much as possible to filter the quality of what I read and identify the most reliable sources, I also absorb once in a while a rather too-large amount of BS which I believe now have the power to intoxicate my motivation.
A clear example has been the backlash around Greta Thunberg over the past months. A 16 year-old-girl with Asperger who has managed to bring 4 million people in the streets, raise a voice that no politician has managed to raise despite scientific agreements, and who has been hitting patriarchy in its face in public with no fear. Comments of old, white, priviledged males against her have been disgusting, and while I praise her voice and role, the entire thing makes me plain sad.
Another example, which has been a choice of mine from Day 1: I have been following POTUS (President of the United States, not to quote his name) on Twitter since his first day in office. Why? Well, if the person in place of the greatest power in the world opens his mouth (and he does it quite often, VERY LOUD AS WELL), people tend to listen, and possibly the wrong side of the auditorium claps. And when this side of the population denies climate change and is in favour of a large amount of BS, you'd better know and listen to if you want to fight against them.
And once in a while this intoxication process goes beyond sustainability and climate change as issues, to reach the goold-old general statement: "people are dumb, I hate people". Overall unnecessary violence, political non-sense, conspiration spirits, racism, misjdugements, anti-vaxx, anti-abortion, anti-human rights, and so on and so forth....all the things that make you stop believing in the greater good, and therefore of the necessity to do something.
The ulimate WTF that ruins it all.
This is where things officially have gone too far, and where online detox is required. This is when kitten and puppies videos do their magic. This is where focusing on positive people only makes the most sense. This is the best moment to virtually show the middle finger to whoever is too stubborn to see the big picture. And this is at last the best time to be a little selfish and focus on my own emotions.
PS: World Mental Health Day was observed across the world on October 10. Do not hesitate, seek support and do not remain alone, there will always be someone to help you out. As for me, no worries: I am fine.