It would be an understatement to say that “hate is the new sex”. This characterization of the present times was made by the famous American philosopher, John Michael Greer, who likened the prevalence of so much hate in contemporary societies as a manifestation of our primal desire for gratification and pleasure seeking behavior. While there is nothing wrong in seeking pleasure or gratification through meaningful pursuits, it is unconscionable that hate driven individuals are engaging in what are otherwise known as anti social and criminal activities. Indeed, we are “normalizing” hate to the point where it becomes basic to our selves to indulge in acts that cause harm to others and in this way, we are legitimizing the bigotry and targeting ethnic, racial, gender, and other minorities. How else can one explain what passes off as “normal” in our present times, when it is patently evident that there is nothing normal about our world anymore.
This is why we need more Emotionally Intelligent individuals to manage their and others emotions in a positive manner, Moreover, in times when instant gratification is the norm, wherein seeking a never ending dopamine hits to “stimulate” our brains and in the process, becoming “junkies” looking for continuous “highs”, Emotional Intelligence,with its emphasis on deferring gratification and self control offers us solutions to become less dependent on the “transitory highs” that our Smartphones provide us. Indeed, the term Doomscrolling describes how all of us scroll endlessly on our many gadgets, feasting on hate and satiating our primal needs for harming others as a means to the end of self gratification. With Emotional Intelligence offering us the much needed framework for building and nurturing empathy, perhaps we could with more of this aspect, considering that the present times are driving us towards criminal acts, and that too, accepted by the mainstream.
Moreover, Emotional Intelligence continues to be relevant at the workplace as well, The pandemic has made WFH or Work From Home and Hybrid Working arrangements the New Normal, wherein professionals have to forego face to face interactions and instead, depend on technology as the medium of interaction. The loss of such physical contact that is so necessary for those starting their careers, since onboarding, familiarization, and socialization all need human to human bonding, means that there is a sense of “alienation” among the Gen Z and the Millennial age cohorts, leading to trends such as The Great Resignation. This is also flagged in the Microsoft Work Trends Report, leaving worried business leaders scrambling to understand as to why so many 18 to 25 year old’s are quitting their jobs. Perhaps older and more mature Gen X and Boomers can offer some valuable tips on managing emotions in these challenging times to the younger generations and more organizations can turn to Emotional Intelligence as a panacea to the high rates of burnout and stress that is forcing even celebrity sportspersons such as Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles to quit midway through the recently concluded Olympics.
Emotional Intelligence is also the cure for our excessive dependence on technology, due to the pandemic forcing us to embrace the Digital Age. With most of our daily activities mediated by technology, it is time to think about using our Smartphones for productive purposes and drawing the line wherever it harms our individual and collective senses. For instance, most of the heinous criminal acts, driven by hate in recent times, have been made possible by the easy access to technologies that morph and distort images, spread fake news, and otherwise make it easy for immature as well as grown up individuals to “take refuge” in the herds and packs of troll armies to harass and worse, target women, racial, and ethnic minorities. I have coined the term, Digital Lynch Mobs, to describe how the herd mentality and mob behavior, that makes people go berserk and lose any sense of responsibility, is now being replicated on social media, wherein the relative “anonymity” as well as the adrenaline rush of being part of a group targeting others, is akin to the lynch mobs that pounce on their victims in the physical realm.
So, here we are, living in unsettling times where the surreal and the banal coexist and the viral times make the instant and the “here and now” the defining aspects of our existence. Emotional Intelligence, with its emphasis on personal responsibility and collective accountability as well as its tenets of empathizing with others can be the “balm” that can heal the “hate filled world” that we are living in. Before our primal needs for violence replace our sexual drives and before the adrenaline rushes that harming others brings turns to a monster that destroys societies, we should instead, turn to practical and practicable solutions that concepts such as Emotional Intelligence provides. Perhaps it is time for a “collective therapy of sorts” where we all undergo a “boot camp” and become more caring and sharing, rather than hating and destroying others. It is high time we resisted our Freudian impulses to hate and be violent and instead, nurture our higher selves. To paraphrase the Native American saying, it is up to us to feed the positive animal within us and to starve the beast that resides in us so that collective good is the result and not societal destruction.