Everything is Going to Hell

How embracing nihilism and the end of it all has made my life more meaningful


After a pandemic, an insurrection, multiple natural disasters and every other evil that the past few years have thrown at us, it’s hard to not feel changed. We live in a world that feels like it’s constantly post-tragedy. Capitalism has run its course, and we are living in a society that doesn’t cater to the modern psyche. Existence in that vacuum can be taxing, and it often results in the burnout and mental health issues that have become common in our workplaces, homes and society at large. However, I have recently found comfort in restructuring my perspective on the world that lit itself on fire. Through seemingly rampant nihilism, my outlook has changed significantly. 

Nihilism is defined as “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.” While this may seem counterintuitive to living a life that is more satisfying and enriching, I believe that there is some wisdom in this philosophy. We must realize the insignificance of our existence and recognize that regardless of our income, social status or production, there is nothing that will remain at the end of the world. This perspective is a unique insight that I believe nihilism — ironically — provides.

In my personal life, for example, I have tried to stop putting monetary stresses at the forefront of my mind. Whether that be managing a budget or simply deciding whether to dine out or not, at the end of the day, none of it really matters. So why not take a friend out to dinner? Or buy that thing from your Amazon wishlist? Joy and satisfaction are currencies in their own right and are arguably more impactful on a person than money. If nothing matters, then every moment of flourishing becomes infinitely more meaningful, and joy seems more abundant than ever.

It seems that there is a new normal in our socializations: one of constant burnout and the underlying exhaustion that creeps up on every single one of us, unbidden and unwanted. In a post-tragedy world, I have embraced apathy as a means of coping and, paradoxically, adding meaning to my life. 

In a world plagued by burnout and deadlines, I refuse to exist to produce anymore. Though it is hard, and I don’t always succeed, I’ve attempted to stop drawing confidence and self-worth from my capabilities and from the never-ending labor that everyone stares down at some point. What will this time do for us down the line? Time is finite, so we must spend it wisely. If all we do is give and give, we forget how to take. This in turn results in a person unable to feel fulfilled as they constantly empty their cup of things that create joy. Abundance, happiness and fulfillment only come when we are whole, and how can we be whole if we give ourselves away to labor? 

The late stage capitalistic landscape that is the working world is no longer compatible with the average psyche and has resulted in a society of enduring suffering rather than flourishing. After realizing this change myself, I simply shut down. It’s hard to not feel overwhelmed with the things demanded of us, so why burn yourself out trying to deliver on an irrational request?

Living to produce and work seems antithetical to the human condition, especially when so dramatically juxtaposed with the flaws in our systems.

We make teachers work in schools where they must die for their students. We expect nurses and doctors to forgo their lives almost entirely to meet the demands of a doomed society. We build cities and use them until we get tired of them, then build a brand new one next to the ruins.

After surviving such dramatic dangers and persevering as only human beings can, it is unethical to embrace the hustle culture of our society. If tragedy has taught us anything (time and time again), it is what really matters. Living to produce and work seems antithetical to the human condition, especially when so dramatically juxtaposed with the flaws in our systems. 

Late stage capitalism has resulted in a world that favors profit over health. However, it is lofty and unrealistic to simply argue that no one should work. The unfortunate truth is that we live in a world governed by these ideals, and not everyone has the privilege to even explore living for the moment. We have created a world that some of us get to experience to the fullest while some provide that experience for others, and that is simply unjust. 

I, for one, am tired of this way of life. I refuse to be a cog in a machine, especially if that machine produces next to nothing and thrives off of inefficiency. 

Our world is filled with wonders of nature, marvels of technology that humans have just begun to explore, and a vast array of cultures and lives waiting to interact and learn from one another. Yet, somehow we have decided that the best lives are those lived in a void. We have decided that the value of a human existence is in the value of its net product. I refuse to exist for this flawed purpose, especially after surviving and growing from events that will mark the pages of future textbooks. It isn’t fair to anyone to exist in this system, and we are perpetually driven away from our desires and things that spark joy, and instead herded back to the grinding stone to produce just to survive. 

We work for currency not even backed by gold. We give away massive amounts of our lives to labor, willingly, in return for a number in a bank account or the material possessions we covet while on break. Is this truly the zenith of human existence? It is 2022 and yet it feels like we are stagnated and rotting. Progress has become monetized and stratified, generating privilege instead of freedom from the very systems that created it. Why? We are stronger and better than this. We are capable of more joy, progress and prosperity than our employers would have us believe. 

I am tired of being glorified cattle, herded from one place to another, endlessly producing pieces of paper and numbers.

I am tired of being glorified cattle, herded from one place to another, endlessly producing pieces of paper and numbers. In such times as these, I suggest embracing a little nihilism to grant perspective. Choose to live a life of actively seeking joy, and stop prioritizing material gain and success, because why toil for a system that is engineered to provide the bare minimum to workers every single time? 

The world has almost ended time and again, and we haven’t caved yet. Why not use our time to experience the gift of life, instead of spending it for unfair compensation in an unfair world? It is illogical and counteractive to the human condition to exist in this way, and it only results in the plague of burnout and exhaustion that is slowly engulfing and depriving us of a world we are slowly destroying.

After all the pain and massive change we have undergone, it is simply illogical to return to the broken systems that govern our society and expect for them to work the same.