Are we all making “nano-niches” for ourselves, in an attempt to fit into this new highly-customised, choice-oriented advanced consumer society? We now join online local communities such as forums, blog directories, myspace, dating sites, chat rooms. We subscribe to newsletters, RSS feeds. We can search for whatever we like with google, almost without limits. As individuals, we’re always searching to redefine ourselves, to find our life purpose.
But what happens if and when you can’t seem to find your own unique, specific niche? I’m talking about major areas of your life, like employment. Your ideal partner? Your own distinct style? Your identity? Can these two states of overchoiceÂ and underchoice lead to mental health problems? What happens to your mood when there are an infinite number of things you could possibly do with your life? Do you begin to block everything out, deny existence of something?
I’m sure that for everyone, there are moments when it all seems like it is too much to bear. It seems to me that in this new information age, a lot of people are withdrawing into their shells, refusing to face the true reality of this world. Perhaps because of their onlineÂ internet experiences. It’s called “future shock”.
We’re always reminded that people who can’t find a worthwhile niche are not much use to society. In this way, perhaps one completely natural & previously redundant “coping mechanism” (stemming for overchoice) is the occurrence of mild depression. We all know that chronically depressed people are obviously more prone to suicide. They consciously choose to eliminate themselves from their own suffering. It is aÂ way of dealing with their own exteme level of internal conflict, self-pity, guilt and their perceived burden on society.Â But what if it is actually aÂ subconscious choice thatÂ has already been programmed into them? Are the peers who have failed to recognise and treat their condition (just like they would any individual with another sickness) partly to blame?
The thought patterns ofÂ chronic depression spread like a cancerous growth. It is commonly said that “the best method of cure is prevention”. One analogy is that we can reduce our risk of contracting any cancerÂ by reducing our exposure to certain well-known carcinogens. That knowledge alone is more valuable than all of the latest and most effective cancer therapy treatments combined. Who actually cares about the bestÂ procedure for destroying cancer cells? What we really want to know is how the cancer cell first forms andÂ why it is able to form in the first place. Knowing which cells or genes are most susceptible to carcinogens will automatically result in the best cancer therapy. Likewise, science needs to study depression not justÂ from the brain chemical perspective (the “how”), but also within the much broader context of the scale major of social life changesÂ (the “why”), to see who is most at risk.Â So an effectiveÂ cure for depression would be to look at the likely causes or factors that initially leadÂ to the state ofÂ depression, predict and hence prevent its occurrence in the first place.
“Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. That’s… it’s just an awful feeling.” -Elija Price from the movie “Unbreakable”.