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The Appeal for Nihilism Among Teenagers

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Written by Dila Kurbanoglu


Although Nihilism (derived from the Latin word nihil," nothing") has various definitions, it can simply be defined as a separation from all religious and moral principles while insisting on the meaninglessness of existence (5); some individuals have been considering the word to be a byproduct of intelligence while others have been equating it with attempting to cast a veil over one’s inclination toward evilness (1). The term often associated with the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche —who proposed that life has no significance— has resurfaced and aroused the interest of young people. Though it has been attempted to be classified by scholars and has been broken up into subtypes, this essay will only cover the reasons why the new generation is drawn to nihilism as a whole rather than discussing it separately.


Like everything else about history and history itself, periods of increased nihilism repeat themselves like a pendulum swinging back and forth (2). Nihilism emerged in the darkness before dawn, where we broke down the chains that bounded us, and started to question the moral absolutes that our ancestors forced down our throats (3). The rise of nihilism is similar to its occurrence; as beliefs that formerly held us back are gradually fading away and technology advances much faster, young people have begun to be hyper-aware of their surroundings as a result of the constant stream of information about what is going on in the world, leading in the continuous state of anxiety. This feeling of distress, along with the busier, is more competitive state of the contemporary world to which an individual has to succumb to succeed in life, hence, pushes people to have the desire to avoid and reject the realities of life. Nihilism soothes the thoughts of these individuals by nullifying their existential predicament. It pricks the bubble of the question that has existed since the dawn of consciousness: Why do I exist? Nihilism responds indifferently: There is no reason. It makes them realize that they are “worthless”; a blind bit of the land that they live on, which has a population of 7.900.443.792 individuals. By doing so, the weight that was once on their shoulders lifts and frees them from the burden.


Even though it appears to be an innocuous way of dealing with life, many people argue that it will bring danger to society, wash away serenity, and lead to the creation of these so-called "monsters". Albert Camus (1913–1960) published L'homme révolté (Man in revolt; translated into English as The Rebel) in 1951 and put these sentences to the first pages: "If our age admits, with equanimity, that murder has its justifications, it is because of this indifference to life that is the mark of nihilism.” , ”If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning and if we can affirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has any importance. There is no pro or con: the murderer is neither right nor wrong.”(1). While Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (1818–1883) does not comment on nihilism’s future, he thinks that it is nonsense and he explained his belief in his book Fathers and Sons (1862) like so:” The tiny little place I occupy is so small in relation to the rest of space where I am not and where it's none of my business; the amount of time which I'll succeed in living is so insignificant by comparison with the eternity where I haven't been and never will be ... And yet in this atom, in this mathematical point, the blood circulates, the brain works and even desires something as well … What sheer ugliness! What sheer nonsense! ”. Yet some people do not think either is right as the younger generation merely wants to be a part of something big for the sake of gratification (4).


As previously stated, nihilism's popularity among teenagers is a result of the modern age, in which a person has to suffer to exist. While it may help oneself to alleviate suffering, some think that it can cause more damage than good.


References:

1. Cassedy, S. (2018, May 23). New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nihilism.

2. Cubias, D. (2016, December 8). Why is nihilism on the rise? HuffPost. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-is-nihilism-on-the-rise_b_5849ab9be4b0afda6e983ef8.

3. Gare, A. (2017). Nihilism. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 5 volumes, ed. Bryan S. Turner (Editor), Chang Kyung-Sup (Editor), Cynthia F. Epstein (Editor), Peter Kivisto (Editor), J. Michael Ryan (Editor), William Outhwaite (Editor), Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2017. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.academia.edu/35384198/Nihilism.

4. Macleod, J. (2021, March 3). Opinion: Generation Z is the generation of nihilism. The Daily Aztec. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://thedailyaztec.com/104464/opinion/opinion-generation-z-is-the-generation-of-nihilism/.

5. Pratt, A. (n.d.). Nihilism. Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://iep.utm.edu/nihilism/.



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