Existential Nihilism: Now Cool

Graphic by Robert Samec

A recent poll conducted by the Yale Daily News definitively concludes the following two findings:

  1. Most Yalies now believe life is inherently meaningless.
  2. God is a lie.

As we enter month eight of the pandemic with Joe—Obama’s elderly brother who likes trains—and a literal fly as the only two things protecting American democracy from authoritarian despotism, more and more young Americans are realizing their cosmic purposelessness.

I Zoomed with Steve, a greasy and existentially-depressed junior in Timothy Dwight currently WWOOFing on a gap semester, and asked him how it feels now that Heidegger and Nietzsche are mainstream. “Look, I’ve been saying all along that life is meaningless… people used to say ‘Oh Steve you’re such a bummer… Oh Steve, take your antidepressants… OH STEVE, stop worrying about your Guinea pig’s Sartre halloween costume.’ And now suddenly people are opening their eyes to what I’ve always seen, so I guess it feels good… but also bad, because you know… who cares?” Steve said to me, visibly wincing with self-hatred as he hand-rolled a cigarette. 

Curious, I followed up with Susan, Steve’s psychiatrist, who reported that, “When Steve used to tell me that religion offers a vain attempt to create order in an indifferent void, I pleaded with him to use his mindfulness tools to ground himself, but after RBG died I gotta say, I kind of see where he’s coming from. When I found out about Justice Ginsberg’s passing I couldn’t even wipe my tears because I was afraid I’d get COVID, so it’s pretty clear to me that existence is absurd.” Our Zoom call ended abruptly when Susan’s husband, an unemployed bedroom pop artist, who describes himself as an “experimental soundologist,” entered the room with a screaming infant and asked Susan to change the baby’s diaper because he was “in a creative flow state” on his new album titled “Porta-Potty Pop.” It was clear in Susan’s eyes as she hung up the call that all her hope had long ago been extinguished.

Helene, a sophomore in Trumbull, offered a prediction for how this philosophical change may affect religious life at Yale when campus reopens: “Look, I was raised Catholic. God was important in my home growing up. We prayed before our family meals, but now after the first debate we read passages from Camus to try and forge our own meaning in this dystopian hellscape.” In response to the growing existential despair and morally corrosive atheism, the Good Life Center will now offer bologna sandwiches and make-your-own miniature zen gardens to students every second Thursday. When going to pick them up, don’t forget your mask!





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