Post-pandemic, we’ve entered the era of total surrender, ferality, and delusion. As we continue exchanging societal norms with unapologetic liberation, why not throw abandoning our feelings of embarrassment into the mix?
Is it me, or does a new personality shift seem to be rearing its head almost every week since restrictions started easing and we somehow found ourselves in a post-pandemic world?
It isn’t all that surprising given how mentally drained we are in the face of ceaseless bad news. So we shouldn’t really blame ourselves for succumbing to the steady rise in nihilism, anti-hustle culture, ferality, surrender, and delusion that’s taken over the internet recently.
Yet while many of these trends encourage us to reject what we’ve been taught and ‘give up’, none have gone so far as to rewrite the rules entirely.
This is where our next era of liberation comes in, one that’s making us question why we even thought it necessary to behave otherwise in the first place.
What is it, you ask? If you’re familiar with the oft-shared meme of a cow looking out to sea alongside the words ‘I am cringe, but I am free,’ you may know.
It’s about abandoning our feelings of embarrassment, owning our awkwardness, and just letting other people do their thing.
View this post on Instagram
These days, being ‘cringed out’ – whether it’s towards your own actions or someone else’s – is pretty unavoidable.
For me (regardless of how hard I try to supress it), it surfaces most aggressively when I say something without thinking, when I’m left on read, or when I fall over in public.
For you, it could be triggered by anything from unwillingly participating in a conversation with your parents about sex, accidentally liking your ex’s Instagram post, getting tongue tied ordering a coffee, or having to run for a bus.
Clearly, cringe is everywhere. So why on Earth are we so consumed by it?
It’s likely a result of social media and the ever-present possibility of being surveilled, which has done nothing but heighten our levels of self-consciousness throughout the years.
Collectively at fault for buying into this inherently toxic narrative, if we aren’t obsessively curating or censoring what we upload to prevent judgemental comments, we’re hiding behind our screens and quietly criticising those with enough confidence to be unapologetically themselves.
If you can hand on heart say you’re exempt from this, I admire you.
Now, I’m not claiming that being hyper-aware about how you present yourself is wrong.
In fact, like all emotions, shame was once essential to our survival as humans – it helped us belong.
‘Shame means we work cooperatively,’ podcaster Cate Campbell tells Vice. ‘If we didn’t have it, we’d all run around killing each other. Because we expect to be judged by groups of people, we try to avoid being judged and want to be part of the team.’