My Permanent State of Anomie

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I admit that I am largely alienated from my country’s overall, general society. I have been so for a long, long time. Indeed, I have a permanent state of anomie, something akin to this description at Anomie – Wikipedia, which is an excerpt from a longer characterization.

Anomie (/ˈænəˌmi/) is a “condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals”.[1] It is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community, e.g., under unruly scenarios resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values.[2][citation needed] It was popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide (1897). Durkheim never uses the term normlessness; rather, he describes anomie as “derangement”, and “an insatiable will”.[3] Durkheim used the term “the malady of the infinite” because desire without limit can never be fulfilled; it only becomes more intense.[4]

For Durkheim, anomie arises more generally from a mismatch between personal or group standards and wider social standards, or from the lack of a social ethic, which produces moral deregulation and an absence of legitimate aspirations. This is a nurtured condition:

Most sociologists associate the term with Durkheim, who used the concept to speak of the ways in which an individual’s actions are matched, or integrated, with a system of social norms and practices… anomie is a mismatch, not simply the absence of norms. Thus, a society with too much rigidity and little individual discretion could also produce a kind of anomie…[5]

My separation from the overall social structure runs deeply in me and has many facets. Here are just a few of them.

Television programs are in part a reflection of society. The shows have to be popular or the advertisers who make commercials for the shows won’t give money to the shows’ producers, nor will they try to sell their products on the shows. (In other words, the shows need lots of viewers to be financially successful.)

So here is an example of some of the shows that we have:

One kind is wherein a supposedly dowdy looking woman is given a clothing, hair and makeup makeover. Then she looks at herself in the mirror while everyone on the show oohs and aahs. (The show is a thinly veiled advertisement for the products that were used to make her look supposedly more pretty in relation to social norms of prettiness and sexiness in the US.) … Oh, yes — should we measure our ultimate value on the way that we LOOK in others’ and our own eyes? Should we spend hours each day preening over ourselves so that we can present an alluring image — especially to members of the opposite sex?

Then we have game shows wherein contestants get actual money competing with each other by correctly answering fatuous trivial questions, such as when was the first fast food restaurant created in the USA?

Then we have the romantic comedies and tragedies, which appeal to many women, and other shows like the fictitious ones with gratuitous violence appealing to baser instincts and often having malignant narcissists graphically torturing victims. Often this latter kind have fast car chases (Supposedly many men in the USA like these movies as they have been culturally taught to identify with their cars.)

Then we have the news programs, which often have painful factual information on them such as:

Sacramento police shot Stephon Clark 7 times in the back – The ……/sacramento…shot…times-back/…/story.htm...

1 day ago – Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man who was fatally shot last week by Sacramento police officers, was struck eight times, mostly in his back, according to an independent autopsy released Friday, raising significant questions about the police account that he was a threat to officers when he was hit.

Trump pushes arms sales to Saudi Arabia as he lauds bin Salman ……/senators-criticise-us-support-saudi-campaign-yemen-crown...

Mar 21, 2018 – President Donald Trump feted Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday and lauded US defence sales as a boost to American jobs. Meanwhile, in the US Senate, lawmakers killed a measure seeking an end to US support for Riyadh’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

Trump’s Saudi Infatuation and the War on Yemen | The American ……/trumps-saudi-infatuation-and-the-war-on-yeme...

Mar 20, 2018 – A president as enamored of Saudi despots as Trump is won’t end U.S. support for the war on Yemen on his own. The only way that the administration will cut off assistance to the Saudi-led coalition is if Congress votes for S.J.Res. 54 to force an end to that support. The Senate is expected to vote on the …

… So much for TV! I rarely watch unless something exceptional is on view.

Next I am not enamored of the way that our economic and financial systems work in the USA. Many people in the US have jobs either delivering or providing products that their companies make. Quite a few of them keep on thinking that if they are really good at whatever they do, they may get a raise — a boost in salary.

Then they can buy more goods, take more expensive vacations and feel more self-important. Then, too, they can ignore their rising carbon and ecological footprints since those footprints, for many people, don’t have much importance when compared to personal wants for more goods and more fancy vacations.

(One of my friends did not get a raise — not once in around fourteen years — not even a cost of living increase. Instead the money that he made for his company went to the company owners, who are very wealthy, take lavish vacations around the world, own mansions and other properties, as well as buy lots of expensive high-end products — aka, toys — like sports’ vehicles.)

Why is the natural world getting destroyed? Here’s one (of many) reasons … that of turning it all as much as possible into products for profits and having a demented out-of-control consumer culture with nearly everyone hell-bent on buying everything that can be had to support selfish self-indulgence, self-gratification and self-importance. (We are taught practically from birth in the US to want to buy more, bigger, better “stuff.”)

So where do all of these maladaptive orientations and behavioral patterns lead?
I agree with the writer of the next composition that the outcome is alarming since they lead to a no good future, limited altruism, social division and estrangement, limited inner peace and curtailed love of the natural world, which is continuously being raped more and more for product extraction.

Parenting On The Brink: Wrestling With Fears Too Big To Name
By Frida Berrigan
And then another thought comes to mind, the sort of thought that haunts the parents of this moment: When I’m 85, it will be 2059, and what will that look like? When my grandkids are my age now, it could be almost a new century. And what will our planet look like then? And I feel that little chill that must be increasingly commonplace among other parents of 2015

Moreover, the former director of the Massachusetts Bar Association once told me that he and all of his personally known colleagues with whom he’d discussed the issue know of only two reasons that a US woman divorces a man of great wealth. One is that she found an even more wealthy man to marry in his stead or she is having a torrid love affair and is not thinking about the consequences since it is not her brain that is making the decision to leave her husband, but is another part of her anatomy — the one tied to sexual gratification.

Be that as it may, many women and men in the US largely focus on always obtaining ever more self-serving benefits, ever more money and ever more decadent luxuries. Are they any happier than anyone else on account? Who knows?

I, myself, feel fortunate because despite not feeling as if I match up to mainstream life in the US, I never did since five years old. Yet I have loved ones who share my values, morals, ethics, outlooks and overall world view. They give me comfort and joy, and so I am fortunate indeed despite living in a bizarre social landscape, including that many people in my government keep warring overseas and creating havoc at home in the USA.

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA. USA.



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