The philosopher Byung-Chul Han wrote in an article published a few months ago in the newspaper El País that «social media turns each of us in a producer, an entrepreneur, of oneself» and that «the pressure itself to grow and produce wearies us all.»
He also spoke about the notion that «depression is a symptom of a burned out society» and I was thinking precisely about that concept, turned into a book I read a decade ago (The Burnout Society). From today’s point of view, as he mentioned, «depression is today’s actual pandemic.»
These days when people who are able to go on vacation are trying to disconnect, to look for that moment of leisure that can transport them to a different mental state, I wonder what we can do to help ourselves about this other pandemic of which the South Korean philosopher speaks. Because what is clear is that those feelings (of exhaustion, of apathy) are present for many of us, and sometimes, even though we try to rest and disconnect with all our might, we are unable to free ourselves from them.
Byung-Chul Han’s reflection makes us think about how curious it is that that which we call progress leads us to be so tired–both physically and mentally–and about the idea that even if for some this pandemic year meant a pause or parenthesis, for others this was a year of transformation, of vital reformulation.
Because there is a part of society with no other option but transformation, and it is precisely because of this that we should have hope. Reformulating one’s life is complicated, but going on as if nothing had happened compels us to repeat that which we know is not good for us.