Common themes

On, The New Yorker, and other ‘smart’ sites, articles that go viral often contain one or more of the following themes:

1. ‘The Enlightenment’ is/was overrated. For example, because it assumes humans are endowed with ‘reason’ and are ‘rational’.

2. Same for democracy. Democracy assumes voters are well-informed of the issues, but instead voters are swayed by fallacious media narratives and vote for their own personal interests.

3. People have less free will than they want to believe, and have been conditioned by culture and society into believing that willpower alone can overcome all obstacles and inequities. This also includes parenting being less effective than commonly believed.

4. However, science offers answers and explanations in spite of #1.

5. Life is full of suffering, but you must carry your cross/burden (a common theme of Jordan Peterson’s lectures).

6. ‘Conventional wisdom’ should be scrutinized.

7. The truth, even if unpleasant or inconvenient, should take precedent over what is expedient or comforting to the ears.

8. The ‘American dream’, like democracy, is overrated and a cause of anxiety and envy.

9. History is a concatenation of narratives/themes. Analogous to a river current, there is always a ‘running narrative’ in the background that manifests itself in pop culture and other facets of life, yet any one individual is powerless to reverse it and almost everyone is subjected by it in some way.

These aren’t exclusively left-wing or right-wing themes, but similar to the IDW, challenge convention, although unlike the IDW, there is less focus on politics and is more subtle. Both ‘the left’ and ‘the right’, for example, have much to criticize about democracy and majoritarianism.