Social Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

Cynicism on the rise?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5510points) July 19th, 2012

Is it just me or is the world getting more and more cynical these days?

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20 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

It’s been at an elevated level in the US for a number of years, and is reflected in the vitriol of our politics. A pervasive media that thrives on conflict exacerbates the problem.

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thorninmud's avatar

To me, it’s a natural result of the evolving sophistication of our culture of mass manipulation. We know that there are powerful tools and armies of experts aimed at shaping our opinions and behavior 24/7. The less naive among us also recognize how vulnerable the mind is to well-crafted manipulation.

In a cultural landscape like this, cynicism has a certain logic to it: assume that things are not as they appear. But systematic cynicism is like an immune system on overdrive; it begins attacking the benign along with the malignant and becomes its own disease.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t think the cynicism levels have increased, but the topics they have attached to are much more visible.
Obama’s birth certificate, 9/11’s inside job, the 99%. Everything is suspect.

elbanditoroso's avatar

There is so much more to be cynical about – that’s why.

All these groups – politicians, corporations, churches, etc., say that they have our best interests in mind, when it is patently obvious that the only interests that they care about are ones that benefit them. Usually, but not always monetarily.

So it’s no wonder that ordinary people have no faith or trust in these institutions or the people who are in them

What’s the old saying? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

fremen_warrior's avatar

@zenvelo was there ever a time the media could be trusted anyway?

@thorninmud and @elbanditoroso I agree with the “everybody wants to take advantage of you” point of view. Is there a way to turn this trend around? I would like to see a civilization built on compassion and mindfulness, instead we are getting more fear, loathing and distrust. Sometimes it feels like the world is heading in one concrete direction, towards more greed, and mindless hedonism…

On a micro scale this affects “normal” people too. Like I said, I feel like everyone around me is a paranoid egocentric “team player”. Maybe I am projecting all of this, and actually it’s only me that’s overly suspicious of other people’s motives… I just don’t know anymore.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@fremen_warrior – you ask “is there a way to turn this around”.

Sadly, my answer is no – at least not with the collective “me first” psyche that we have these days in the USA. The way to turn it around is for corporations (and politicians, and clergy) to care about the unified whole of the population, and not some small portion that lets them score political or financial points. IT will come out of (sadly, unreachable) point of view that telling the truth actually has benefits to society.

I think you are right, in this day and age, to be suspicious of everyone’s motives.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that cynicism has been on the rise for at least a decade. It is a sad state to be in, where you feel that no one can be trusted & too many people know that they are being lied to on a regular basis. It is a self-defeating cycle that prevents people from working together for the common good of all. It makes people defensive & prone to looking out for themselves only.

mowens's avatar

I dont think it is… i’ve always been this way.

However with the rise of the internet, everyone has much tougher skin in my opinion.

Unless of course we are talking about sunburn….

Blackberry's avatar

What do you expect as people become more aware?

wundayatta's avatar

Naw. I think cynicism is kind of a function of age and education and the economy. Complex relationship there. But if you think things are going wrong, you’re going to be more likely to be cynical, and if you are idealistic, as people are when young, you are most likely to be cynical.

Except, that as you get older and see more, you also tend to grow more cynical and at the same time, some people grow more optimistic about the possibility for improvement. So go figure. But I think the factors that affect cynicism are all over the place.

Shippy's avatar

Yes I do. I am sure it is a cross pollination of all sorts of issues that are going on in society today. Stress, overload, over population to name a few. It is sad and I long for the old days, or the days as I believed they were then as percieved by me, then.

majorrich's avatar

What do you mean by that? Huh..Huh..

athenasgriffin's avatar

I think cynicism is the natural byproduct of fear.

Truly brave people go through the world with trust, knowing they will be harmed and accepting it.

But fear is on the rise. Maybe we have more to fear, but I don’t personally believe that.

Keep_on_running's avatar

I agree that we live in a time where there is so much more to be cynical about. The 24-hour media cycle, as they say, means people are aware of the shit that is trying to be sold; things and thoughts.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think we spend so much time figuring out who to blame that it’s perceived as cynicism. Anything that goes wrong can be tracked to dozens of complex sources, some of which will fit our fears as @athenasgriffin said.

When we find a likely culprit we blame it and complain, loudly and publicly, somehow proving our worldview and also letting everyone know it is not our fault.

Get a couple hundred people who seem to agree with you and suddenly you’ll feel not only right but justified and victimized. This was less likely to happen in the past.

I think we’ll find a way through, hopefully with increased understanding for others (who have their own problems) and personal responsibility even in the face of those complex causes.

zenvelo's avatar

@fremen_warrior I think in the past there was quite a bit of the press that could be trusted – the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS News. I don’t think anyone ever accused Walter Cronkite of being unfair. But all three were willing to afflict the comfortable. CBS supported the war in Vietnam until Cronkite went there and realized how awful it was and what the truth was.

But now a days Matt Drudge can set the tone for the day with absolute lies. People like Sarah Palin don’t care about anything except airtime and being in front of the public. TMZ wants to get whatever dirt they can as quickly as possible, and don’t care about ruining people’s lives.

rooeytoo's avatar

A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist.

I never really gave it any thought, I will pay more attention and see what I think. I do notice there are more rectums around though.

lifeflame's avatar

I think our way of living on this planet as we know it is unsustainable, and its about to hit a critical point. The fact that I can see it coming and it feels to big to turn around (what can I do as an individual?)makes me quite cynical. So—awareness is part of it, but also, I think objectively the situation is getting worse…

fremen_warrior's avatar

Basically then we are getting more and more bitter because we are getting a clearer picture of the world we live in. We are flooded with information, and this makes it easier to see how messed up our systems and societies are. Cynicism as a function of (the bitter) truth – wish it didn’t have to be that way. There has to be a way to avoid turning cynical, even if the world disappoints you time and time again… I hate that people are becoming so desensitized, paranoid too, on the other hand it’s hard not to, given what we are surrounded by daily. Is there a way out of this mess?

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