No Regrets (Postmodernism-part 3)
This is the third article on postmodernism. The first article dealt with the postmodern view that self-contradiction is not problematic but normal. You can read that article here. The second dealt with the effect of constant change on the development of a young person’s identity. You can read that article here. In this article we will consider the postmodern view of purpose and feelings.
The teenage years are when most people began to ask, “What is my purpose? Why was I created? Is there a reason for my existence?” A typical postmodern young person says, “I don’t know my purpose but that’s OK. I’m not too worried about it. Besides, why search for a purpose when all the smart people disagree on what that purpose is? Save your energy.”
Purpose and Experience
The postmodernist mindset holds that purpose isn’t important; experience is. Purpose is fleeting. Experience is real. Modern young people have grown up benumbed by non-stop, external stimulation from television, video games, texting, internet surfing, fantasy football, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, taking selfies, drugs, or alcohol, hence experience trumps purpose.
Experiences give one a sense of being alive, even if that life is without purpose. The phrase, “you only live once,” (YOLO), can be used to justify any experience. (“Just do it!”) Experience is always good. Another, similar mantra of postmodernism, “How will you know unless you try it,” also seems to make sense until you test it. Do you really need to try divorce, suicide, and cruelty?
So what if an experience is really bad? What if the results are painful? Here postmodernism provides a second ironclad moral principle: “Have no regrets.” Take life as it comes. “It is all part of who I am, why would I change it?”
Feelings of regret can just be ignored, but thoughts of regret are a problem. Such thoughts presuppose a clear and stable sense of right and wrong. Regretful thoughts implies making a judgment, but you aren’t supposed to judge, not others, not yourself. It just creates bad feelings.
“YOLO”, “just do it”, “how will you know unless you try it”, and “have no regrets” are postmodern slogans strongly influencing youth away from a purpose driven life.
Mike Shaughnessy is the Executive Director of Grandly and the Editor of the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter.
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