“Existential dread is a state in which in individual questions existence, meaning, purpose and almost everything about life in a cynical way.” This is a random post I read scrolling through Facebook.

I was confused on why would this happen. Why would people get crisis on existing? Soon the confusion turned into curiosity and I want to know about this. I googled it but the results are a bit confusing.

So I messaged my friend, of course, you guessed it, John. So here is how the conversation goes.

Me: Hey John! My man! How are you?

John: Hey, I’m good, how about you?

Me: I’m good, so I saw this term called “existential dread”. What does it mean?

If you remember, John has a habit of texting back late when asked something important. After a couple of hours, I got a text back from him.

John: Why do you want to know that? 

Me: I just read it on Facebook and want to know more about the same.

John: Okay, before we dig deep, you need to know a term called “existentialism” and “existential crisis.”

Existentialism:

In simple words, it is is a philosophy that stresses the importance of human experience, and says that everyone is responsible for the results of their actions.

Existential Crisis:

In simple words, an existential crisis leads to a time of deep questioning within oneself. This normally associates with how someone sees themselves and their meaning within the world.

John: Existential dread and existential crises are technically the same. If we push, we can say that the dread is the next stage of the crisis.

Me: I get that, but why does anyone question their existence and feel bad about it? 

John: If we talk scientifically, it may trigger when there is a trauma, death of loved ones, major loss, substance abuse etc., But on a philosophical level it is on a different note.

Me: Okay, can you elaborate on that?

John: Sure, from the philosophical standpoint, the burden of existence is the cause of the crisis.

Me: What? It doesn’t make sense. I mean how is existence a burden? We all exist and that is a fact. I don’t get it.

John: It is very simple, the existence of an individual is not a choice. All life and existence are random. So you really don’t have a choice of existing.

Me: I get that, but life is what it is. Adding to what you said, you cannot really choose to exist or not. So why feel sad about it?

John: That is exactly the issue. Life is what it is which is an unavoidable thing.,. Some people choose not to exist yet they do. As there is a famous saying “Life is not a bed of roses.”

Me: Okay, I get the premise of the existential dread. How bad can it be? You might feel bad for some time and move on right?

John: It is one of the worst things to hit you. It is almost a mental suicide. If a person is hit by it, they lose interest in almost anything and just become a deactivated robot.

Me: I don’t believe it. How extreme will it be?

John: Any individual suffering from the dread will be in a very bizarre position. As I said, they have zero interest in doing almost everything, the consequences are overthinking, less expressive, not able to focus etc.,

According to some studies, these can lead to some mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety etc., It not only affects you mentally but also physically as you are not able to focus.

Me: Oh man! That is very bad than it sounds. What would a day look like for the person who is hit by existential dread?

John: I can talk from a personal point of view. For instance, If I have a knife in my hand, I want to just want to cut my hand and see how the blood would ooze out. Even by thinking about this, I wouldn’t flinch.

If I’m on the roof of a building, I would imagine if I would jump, how would my head burst when it’s hit the ground, how would the blood splatter all over and things like this.

These are not suicidal tendencies but complications of overthinking on the burden of existence. I would just sit in a dark room staring and thinking or would be in the shower for hours doing nothing. 

It is like a man who is emotionally dead, with an expressionless face just walking around. Everything around me eventually stops making sense doesn’t make any sense no matter what. It feels very weird.

Me: Man this sound awful! Is there no other way to divert from this existential dread?

John: There is one amazing quote I read somewhere it says “The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn’t a search for meaning. It’s to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually, you’ll be dead.”

If we just keep ourselves busy with any unimportant shit, we can eventually come out or avoid the existential dread.

” I did it! I finally did it! Everyone thought this is some fairy tale story! But I did it! I cannot believe I did this!

I’m going to call my friend and tell him this. He might not believe me, but this is crazy! I just can’t believe it!

Hey Harris! Mark here, I finally did it! I’m successful in creating the machine! My dream has come true! I’m very excited about this!”

“Congratulations Mark! Your struggle has finally paid off! I’m very happy for you! What are the next steps that you have to do to move forward?”

“Testing man, getting more people to volunteer for this. Conducting trials and collecting the data and if everything checks out, expecting a nobel lol.”

“That is awesome my man! I cannot say how happy I’m for you! World betterment is the next stop! I’m here for you if you need anything.”

“I know Harris! I know it! Thanks for always being there bud! I will meet and talk to you soon. Take care my man.”

“Yo Mark, I will see you soon. Let’s drink a beer together next time we meet! Once again congrats and all the best, talk later bud!”

Call ends

“It is always awesome to talk to my brother man! I think even I don’t believe in me that much than him. Should find volunteers and get going.

“I will give an advertisement tomorrow in media for volunteers and hope I get a few people or at least one. Should give an attractive advertisement.

“Here is the advertisement: Wanna know if people really trust you? And everything you say? If you are curious get in touch with me!

“Looks nice! I’m gonna post it and see what happens. Well its been a long day, I will sleep for some time and hope to see everything works.

Next Day

“That was a good sleep! Let’s see if I got any volunteers. I hope at least I got one. Let us see………… here we goo…..

“Well, this sucks! I got zero replies from the people. People rush you all the useless and imaginary things but for science and development.

“What can I do other than wait. I will continue with the day and hope someone replies to me. Man understanding people is tough!

In the evening

“Let’s see if I got any replies about the advertisement. I hope there is someone out there who trusts in science. Here we go……

“Wow! I got a reply! Yes to the sciences. Let’s see who is this wonderful human being. Ah! looks like a man, anyone’s fine. Let us see what he says.

“What the…..! His message says wanna invest in bitcoin and want to turn $500 investment into $5000? Message to find out more.

“These scammers! I wonder how many people fall into this. I sometimes feel bad for people who fall into these scams. Well, I will check tomorrow.

Next Day

“Let’s see….. yay I got a genuine reply! This guys name is Morris. He wants to participate in this and he is from this city, Niicee…

“I will message him and get in touch with him and I hope I don’t blow this up and I really hope he accepts to volunteer for my study.

” I just sent him a message and I hope he accepts and meets me. Everything starts with a single step and I hope this step is a success.

“Wow, he accepted my request for the study and gave me his contact number. This is an awesome start for this wonderful story so far.

“Hey, Morris! This is Mark, the one who asked you about the study. Thanks for accepting. Are you free tomorrow to meet?”

“Hey, Mark! No problem, I’m always in to promote science. Yes, I’m free tomorrow to meet you. Shall we meet for lunch?

“Sure Morris, I will text you the location to meet. We shall meet for lunch and I will explain the procedure. See you soon. Take care!

Call ends

“Well, the story just got very interesting. I’m beyond pumped! I can’t wait to meet this gentleman and start my experiment.

Next Day

“Hey Morris, thanks for meeting with me. So will keep it simple. I suppose you have read the description of the advertisement right?”

“Hi Mark, Yes I have read it. It is very interesting. I just want to see science has come to a stage to see if people believed what I say.”

“I’m beyond happy that a young man like you is interested in science and I’m pretty sure if I tell you the procedure you will more thrilled.”

“I’m excited and all ears Mark! Hit me with it.

“At first I have two pills. Both with different functionalities. One of the pills is I need you to take before telling the news to the person.

“This enables you to tell the truth. I want the news you tell to be honest and not to fake or play with peoples feelings.

“The second pill is for them. After they take the pill it takes 24 hours to activate. After that, you can tell them the news and it captures actual reaction.

“So you need to take the pill after the next day after they take it and just before you tell the news. I hope you are following my story.”

“Yes, Mark I followed that train of thought and I completely get it. Just one question, where are the results captured for this?”

” I have a Virtual Reality kind of headset that gives the data right to you so that there will be privacy. I just formulate it and give the details.”

“Interesting Mark very interesting. I’m in on this. I will give the pills today and call them by taking my pill right in front of you tomorrow. “

“Wonderful! Here are three pills to give to others and I have your pill. I can give you your pill when we meet tomorrow at my office. Take care man!”

Next Day

“Hey Morris, so you are here. Did you give your friends that pill? And most importantly did it pass 24 hours after they have taken it?”

“Hey Mark, Yes I did and yes it is past 24 hours. I have one question though. If they already knew about pill how would we get genuine reaction?”

“To answer this simple for you, it is science, Morris. Their lips might be lying, but with their moments and inner body functions we can be accurate up to 90%”

“Cool! One more question too, why this 24-hour clock though? Can’t we take the pill at the same time and get honest reactions?”

“Very good question Morris, the pill you give them captures the data on how they speak the truth and lies in these 24 hours. After that their reaction to your problem will be honest”

“Interesting! I can’t tell you how excited I’m Mark! I’m ready, lets do this!”

“You bet! Let us unfold the other part of the Story! Take the pill and call one of the people you gave the pill.”

“Sure, Hey Claire, so I had a very bad incident Yesterday. As you know I took the pill just now and I will only be speaking the truth. Yesterday there was a big fight with my parents and I’m feeling very bad.

“I have these fights regularly but this is kind of a big one and I’m feeling very bad about it. Just wanted to share with you.”

“Aww! I’m sorry to hear that Morris. I wish I was there to help you with this. Just don’t take too much in and keep focusing on things that matter. You will surely have very good days ahead.”

“Thanks for listening Claire! You are the best as always. Talk to you soon!”

“Any time Mark! Have a good day and remember to not to take too much in.”

“So Morris, she seems like a very good friend. I’m sending the results to your VR. Take a look and testify for yourself.”

“She is very awesome Mark. I’ve known her for a very short period, but she like one of my best friends. A mentor and a mountain like support.”

“Glad to hear that! Shall we call the second one Morris?”

“Sure Mark, here we go! Hey Tommy, what’s up my man! So listen I had this big fight with my parents regarding job and stuff and its very bad man!”

“Hey, Morris, my man! Bro, I have told you many times, quit those bloodsuckers and do something you love. I’m sure even your parents will appreciate this,

“Sure at first they might taunt you and stuff, but you willsuffer for the rest of your life if you don’t. Do you want me to talk to your parents on this?”

“No Tommy, it’s fine! If things go out of my hand I will surely ask you to talk to them. Thanks for listening bud! Hope to see you soon!”

“Even he seems like a good guy Morris!”

“Yes Mark, I know him for 10 years, We have been friends since my school. He is one of my best friends.”

“Good to hear that! I have sent the results of these as well.” Ready for the third?”

“Absolutely Mark! Here we go Hey Roger! What’s up brother? So listen I had this big fight with my parents and it was very bad brother!”

“Hey, Morris, I’m sorry to hear that brother. I just can’t imagine myself in your situation. You have a lot on your plate, I’m surprised to see that you are managing them without losing mental balance.

“These are testings times my man! Just stay strong and I’m pretty sure you will overcome these too.”

“Thanks for listening bud! Talk to you soon!”

“Morris looks like you got some awesome friends. I have sent the data of the third too.”

“Honestly Mark, I just came to see how science works on this. I need not see the results. I’m pretty sure they trust me and I trust them too. Thanks for the expereince.”

“You are welcome Morris, but I suggest you look at the data. So the experiment can be marked as successful and complete.”

“Sure Mark, I will definitely look. Here we go. Mark I think there is a mistake. It shows Roger didn’t believe it. I don’t believe this.”

“Calm down Morris, I have been formulating this for the past 7 years. I’m pretty sure it’s good.”

“I’m calling Roger Mark. I can’t stand this anymore. Hey Roger, be honest with me the result shows you didn’t trust me. The system might be broken, but the scientist here says it is efficient. Please be honest.”

“Uhmm well, I honestly think you want sympathy or some kind of attention. So I think you might have lied about things and your story.

It doesn’t make sense that a person can have all these sufferings. Now you be honest and tell the truth. Do you want sympathy?”

“What the fuck are you talking about bud? Why would I want sympathy?
Are you listening to yourself? What happened to you?”

“Stop lying and wasting my time man! I have other works to do. Leave me alone!”

Call ends

“Mark! What the hell is this? I know Roger since 6 years, this cannot be true, I mean I could have proved my story. This is not fair!”

“Okay Morris, I will tell you something very important. you gotta listen very carefully. You said you would prove your story. How many times will you do that?

“If you prove that you are emotional to someone to get their trust, you are becoming an emotional slave to yourself.

“How many times will you prove your story and the situation? What is more bizarre than proving to someone that you are crying?

“One of the famous Philosophers Albert Camus once said Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is, you are said in this situation and that is a fact.

“If someone doesn’t believe that, that doesn’t mean that you are not sad. That means they are not trusting you.

“How would someone believing or not believing you change your emotional state, Morris? It is not reality or logical right?”

“On the other hand, you have told your part of the emotion and the story. You are relieved that a person is listening to you. The other person believing or not believing is not your business, right?”

“You are absolutely right Mark! Thanks for listening, I will take leave and once again thanks for the experiment.”

End of story

In conclusion, I just want to say Human emotions are not concrete and we cannot express a single emotion at the same time.

It is always a combination of emotions. That is how our limbic system of the brain is built.

But some of us might be getting sucked into a single emotion at times. This can be due to the environment we live in, a situation we might not be able to handle etc.,

If we take this deeply in psychological terms, it is not a single expression it is a sadness that moves to grief, pain and disturbs the capabilities to think.

Why would someone wants sympathy when they are sad? If you don’t want to help or listen, no problem say that straight.

But if you are claiming that a person is sad always just because to get sympathy, that is the most disgusting thing ever and its inhumane.

According to many research articles, this is one of the leading causes of high-level depression. Not listening to one’s story and blaming them for being sad is bizarre.

A criticism of my early views that laws are a common compromise of people who can take responsibility for their acts: To explain this better, I’ll explain my early views on morality and human freedom. I believed that they don’t co-exist. A moral judgement is a judgement of an act. An act done by a human in any emotional state is done with a rush to do it. Is it justified then? No! Does it need to be judged? Of course! But why? Why do actions of other people bother us? Why should we even live together?

Humans are condemned to be free. There is no way out. Is there a common essence for all of us? No. Is there a common purpose? No. Can we have objective morals? No. But we have understood that we can survive if we lived in groups. And it worked. Thus, we built civilizations, kingdoms, states and now nations. Now, do we need objective rules that repress us?

We need to understand that there is no supernatural judgement waiting to judge our actions. If we have to survive better, living in groups is the better way. And for that, we do need rules that don’t destroy society. We need society alive and functioning. So regardless of our opinion towards it, there is a forced common goal for all of us. That is to maintain harmony to live together intending no harm. Thus, we need objective rules that will however cause repression, but it should be a common compromise. “Humans are condemned to live together”

These rules should be applied in the best interest of maintaining harmony. Anarchy is amazing? Of course, it is. Imagine being able to live your own life independently, governing yourselves. But humans are beasts in nature; like any other animal. We have tried to refuse our true nature for a long time now. We have to accept that we all are predators, hunters, killers and thieves. Given certain pressure, everyone can break the threshold and can commit any treacherous act just to survive. It is there in all of us. That is our true nature, the true essence — we are animals.

Rather than judging our true nature to be filthy from the fixed-moral perspective, we should accept it. We should embrace the fact that we are all by birth predators and contribute to the common goal of harmony voluntarily. If it’s a rule book of God that condemns us to act accordingly to the rules, it causes repression. If it’s a spiritual guide, it causes repression too. You are suppressing your true nature rather than embracing it.

End of the day, rules, morals and laws only exist to maintain harmony. Why don’t we all contribute to it voluntarily? Rather than being suppressed by an unknown or a third-party-source (government), we can do it on our own. And the only third-party judge, the law should indeed exist, even though it suppresses our true nature, it is the necessary suppression we need to balance the harmony.

It won’t work if we ask people to create morals themselves. We can not blame the irresponsible for not taking the responsibility of creating their values. Again, it is natural. We are the beasts that we need to tame. And the taming; not because of a holy purpose. Or a moral judgement of a good/bad. But just what needs for society to exist. There is no objective good/bad, but just accepted/not accepted. Killing is not bad, it is just not acceptable. It is still natural for humans to kill, but we don’t need it now if we want to exist together.

I had this view that people who took responsibility to create their own values to not harm the other have compromised to create laws to control the irresponsible. I saw it in two perspectives. One being an unselfish contribution to the society. That is, that the law exists because the irresponsible cannot create their own values. The other being, a selfish act to preserve oneself. That is, that the responsible understand that we need harmony and thus to protect themselves from the irresponsible they have created these rules.

On further introspection, that might sound true, but such is not the case. There exists some common and objectively accepted thing in all of us. That is the idea of living together. This idea is the agent that causes morals, laws and values. People who don’t have these ideas of harmony are called ‘anti-social’ or sociopaths. According to what is not-accepted (bad) by all of us (those who wish harmony), a sociopath is bad (not-accepted), because a sociopath destroys the fundamentals of living together.

What is objectively bad is that which does not value or disregards the balance of the society. What is objectively good is that which does add to or does not break the fundamentals of society, at least. Thus, even though objectivity is a human construct, that is much needed. And as ironic as it may sound, it takes a person who is individual and independent to form a better society — so independent that one’s growth does not even depend on the decline of other people.

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