No Sense Friday: The Modern Human Struggle

No one's holding you back - but you're fighting on your own

I don’t know where you live, but I know this: You have internet access.

That immediately puts you in the top half of humanity’s wealth distribution. Because the other half? They’re not even online yet.

You may not live in the most prosperous of places, but this also means your struggle is likely some version of the modern human struggle.

One of my favorite philosophers, Naval, describes it as follows:

“I think that the human brain is not designed to absorb all the world's breaking news 24/7.

Emergencies, injected straight into your skull with clickbait headline news. If you pay attention to that stuff, even if you're well-meaning, even if you're sound of mind and body, it will eventually drive you insane. I think that's what's happening right now, because these are addictive.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, these are weaponized. You have social statisticians and scientists and researchers, people in lab coats, literally the best minds of our generation, figuring out how to addict you to the news.

And if you fall for it, if you get addicted, your brain will get destroyed.

I think this is the modern struggle.”

The news and social media are at the heart of this struggle, but it goes beyond that. Naval explains some of the other forces that constantly work to rattle our brains:

  • Social media - they've massaged all the mechanisms to addict you like a Skinner pigeon or a rat, who's just gonna click, click, click, click, click - can't put the phone down.

  • The food - they've taken sugar and they've weaponized it. They've put it into all these different forms and varieties that you can't resist eating.

  • Drugs - they've taken pharmaceuticals and plants and they've synthesized them. They've grown them in such a way that you get addicted, you can't put them down.

  • Porn - if you're a young male, you wander around the internet, it'll zap away your libido, and you're not going out in real life society anymore because you've got this incredibly stimulating stuff coming at you.

  • Video games - another way to addict people.

This is very different from what we could call the ancient human struggle:

“The ancient struggle used to be the tribal struggle. You had your tribe of friends and family, you had your religion, you had your country, you had your loyalty, your nationality - at least you had meaning and support, but now you would struggle against other tribes.”

Today, Naval says, we don’t have these meaning and support systems anymore. Most of us choose not to rely on them, because it means freedom. But it also means we’re on our own in our darkest hours.

“Modern life, we’re so free, everything's become atomized. We stand alone.

You live in your apartment alone. You live in your house alone. Your parents don't live nearby. Your friends don't live nearby. You don't have any tribal meaning. You don't believe in religion anymore. You don't believe in country anymore.

It's fine, you’ve got a lot of freedom, it’s fantastic, but now when they come to attack you - you're alone. You have entire, large factories of people that are working to addict you to these things and you stand alone.

So the modern struggle as an individual is learning how to resist these things in the first place. Drawing your own boundaries. And there’s no one there to help you.”

Sometimes, we still pretend we’re fighting the ancient human struggle.

“I’m just trying to survive!”

No, you’re not. Your survival is, by and large, all but ensured. You’re not scrambling. You’re fighting against yourself so you can live up to your full potential. And that’s much harder - because you’re alone.

We are the transition generation. We remember life before smartphones, maybe even before the internet. Thus, we have a tough time figuring out how to handle a world in which they are ubiquitous. But that’s our job. Our mission in service of future generations. So that they may not struggle as much.

For us, the path to realizing our potential leads through mindfulness. Through self-awareness, balance, and reflection. We need time away from technology to figure out what to make of it all and how to use it as an extension, an enhancement of our creativity and intelligence, rather than a mere distraction and indulgence.

I don’t know where you live, but I know this:

You and I are fighting the modern human struggle.

I wish you the strength and resilience to see it through.


About No Sense Friday: Most people live for Friday. Relaxing on the weekend is fine, but we can’t just waste it away every time. That’s why Friday is the most important day to call out things that make no sense. Because in a way, the concept of ‘Friday’ itself makes no sense.

A good life is lived every day, not just once a week.

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