The ultimate journey.
Life is only necessary to achieve death
Anna Strzałkowska, The University of Manchester
Social alienation, the technology that both connects and divides us, and the constant pursuit of success with the hope of achieving happiness. People often struggle with unrealistic comparisons to their peers. It is easy to forget that every person comes from a different background with different privileges and with various moral and ethical values, all of which have an impact on their abilities and achievements. Still, the social media realm makes it harder not to look and judge the success of those who we follow. Seeing countless social media success stories and LinkedIn posts can make you downgrade your own success. Partly due to this, more people than ever are being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The inability to find one’s meaning and purpose causes the society we live in to be a planet of clones copying others, hoping to duplicate their success. All of which heading to one, inevitable end.
Death and religion
Why would it all matter, though? In the end, we are all going to die, something we are all more or less aware of during the global pandemic. Still, the desire to find a sense of one’s existence has always occupied people’s minds.
Some find help in religion, introduced to them by their parents from an early age or discovered themselves later in life. Europe is still primarily dominated by Christianity, with Poland being one of the most religious countries in the continent. Christianity’s dogma explains how through death, an individuals’ soul can enter Heaven, considering it gains the honour to be let in. Those who do not know the good on Earth will be rewarded in Heaven, we who attend the church service so often hear. At the same time, religion-related consumption is booming with thousands of pilgrims travelling around the world and consuming countless religious souvenirs. Capitalism then also allows those to experience their religion-themed lives through consumption. With knowing that death is at the end of one’s existence and believing that one’s soul goes somewhere afterwards, consumerism still fits in nicely.
Hedonism and consumption
The concept of death from a religious point of view is also well known and understood to others who deem religion as an irrational superstition. What is death then for people who do not believe in Heaven? What is their lives’ meaning? For those, it is the journey of life that matters most. But simply enjoying life to its fullest can again be challenging in today’s world. Living by the capitalistic values, the more you have, the happier you are. However, this has proven itself to be wrong, with some rich and seemingly happiest celebrities taking their own lives. Multiple studies have shown that having a sense of purpose through a meaningful job that one loves, spending time with family and friends or just feeling a part of any community are much more important than materialistic goods when it comes to life satisfaction.
But is it possible to fully escape the realities of capitalism? Consumption is destroying not only the planet but also human relationships in today’s Western societies. Marketing and advertising attribute human characteristics to objects and promise people happiness for a given price. With leading psychologists and neurologists working on the complexities of the human brain to use it in adverts, it does not come as a surprise that people do believe that objects can make them seem to be smarter or more attractive. How can one enjoy life’s journey in such a world? Working from one deadline to another only to be able to afford the new iPhone and show it off to others or put it on your social media?
This all might seem insignificant considering the struggles of people living in the so-called ‘Global South,’ the climate emergency or the political conflicts in many places around the world. Having said this, it is crucial to be aware of what capitalism and its promises are and how it is destroying many people’s lives. No matter what your purpose is, if you know it or if you have no idea yet what the meaning behind all this is, do not forget to take care of yourself. Living in a bubble of the Western, industrialised world makes us forget about the struggles of others, as in the end, we are all really self-centred creatures. Spend time with your friends and family, take care of your body and educate yourself on issues that matter to you and others.
Only one thing is certain - after life comes death. But everyone already knows that, and it does not change a thing, regardless of what may happen after.