From here, they look a lot more like wasps and hornets.
Years ago, marketers used the term “cocooning” to describe how technology and increased societal pressure would push people into safe cocoons of home & hearth, where they could surround themselves with comfort food and family against the pressure and chaos of the outside world. People traded participation in society for security, self-absorption and some semblance of inner peace.
Well that’s happened for a few, those at the top 1% of the economy’s ladder. For another, significant portion of the population, it’s been a retreat to their blue screen of death – daily doses of data which may or may not be true, all reinforcing a fear of the outside world. People have retreated to their extended tribal families. Early on, this retreat was symbolized by a Walkman, where we loaded our pre-selected music to isolate ourselves from the outside world with presumably pleasant sounds. Today it’s characterized by echoing social media and talk radio hosts bent on building their bank accounts by engendering fear.
People run from the future toward memories of a past that never existed. While Brexit & Trump may be prime examples, they’re not alone. Too many people in this world are embracing a nostalgia for better times rooted in fear of an unknown future filled with neighbors who aren’t like themselves. Nationalism is regressing to tribalism, regardless of political boundaries or legal infrastructures. [Has nationalism ever been more than a thin veneer, created by and for power and politics?]
Both Brexit and the US primaries pitted those who’ve lost their stake in society against those trying to gain one. We saw victories of old over young; fear over future. Those who’ve lost what little they’ve had are striking back. Their anger is channeled by the very people who’ve taken their futures and denied them any self-respect. It’s a dynamic that’s been around for a long time – where people vote against their own self-interest when well-placed emotional appeals play to ignorance. Because I lived there, I saw it up close and personal with Jesse Helms in NC. But it’s still around today with Trump and the Koch-funded lobbying machines. I’m sure you can find examples in a political environment near you.
Every day’s news brings us examples of frustration-driven violence. It’s what happens when people leave their cocoon to return to an unrecognizable, uncomfortable world. After a diet of venom and bile, all that’s left is loss of the familiar, fear of the future, and disappointment on discovering the past is a different place that aint never coming back. As with any animal evicted from its nest, people will bite, sting and harm whatever and whoever’s in their path. It’s instinctive.
Pandora’s Box is open. It’ll be a while before all of its nasty inhabitants fly out, tire out and calm down. It would be nice if they calmed down first, so we could see all that energy used for building rather than destroying. But I really don’t see it happening in the near future.
I hope I’m wrong.