How the "music meltdown" of the 90s made everyone miserable

Keep your head clean and clear with the inspiring music of 80s

How the "music meltdown" of the 90s made everyone miserable
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

The words in your mind are the laws of your world

A couple of days ago Vox Day put up this excellent post about how words shape our reality:

... this is why relentless positivity of mind, the determined avoidance of negativity, and the refusal to live in fear are vital for the Christian. It's also important to pay attention to the lyrics of the music one listens to; classical music is much better for your mental and spiritual health than imprinting your mind with emo goths droning about how unhappy they are or metal gammas screaming about how they hate the world because everyone hates them.

Skeptical? Test it. The next time it's late at night and you're feeling down, or feeling afraid, or wallowing in self-pity, listen to the following three songs. Crank them up. Sing along. Then measure how you feel versus how you were feeling previously.

Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
Move Any Mountain by The Shamen
Indestructible by Disturbed

He's absolutely right.

The words that you let into your mental space shape what you think and feel.

You can't separate your experience from the words that you have available to describe it.

That rabbit hole runs deep indeed.

It starts with an assumption about the mind's place in the world.

Today's materialist has a simple-minded take on psychology

Over here, there's stuff. Medium sized dry goods plus a system of weights and measures.

Over there, we have you, the observer. Touch feely experience.

That divide between the subject and the object is an influential piece of modernist dogma. Minds and bodies, fact and feeling, they are classified into separate boxes.

This is not a scientific conclusion, I should add. It's entirely the work of philosophers who reasoned their way to it. Science, and more precisely the materialist metaphysics behind atheist naturalism, supposes the division between mind and world -- it does not prove or argue for it.

This is despite generations of philosophers and artists telling us that human beings aren't passive observers of reality. We are also active participants in the world.

What we find is partly made. By making, we also discover.

Aristotle knew this all the way back in the 4th century BC.

Modern science has had to play catch up. Quantum physics already has a problem getting a handle on the influence of the observer on the observed reality.

Then there's all the work on complex self-organizing systems which brings up its own set of observer problems.

Human minds don't just take in information like a camera watching a game from the sidelines. We're out on the field playing ball.

But that's all high-minded abstract stuff. What's this got to do with music?

The quality of your music is the quality of your life

Your Host grew up with 90's grunge on MTV, back when MTV still played music. Lots of anger, angst, and depressive lyrics.

It seemed normal. Why wouldn't it?

The goldfish doesn't notice the water.

When you don't know any different, you take what you're given.

But after a deep dive into soundtracks to 80s movies and TV, it hit me square in the face.

These old songs were full of positive, inspirational, uplifting and encouraging lyrics.

Even the hair-metal glam bands of the day had a (mostly) optimistic message.

By the mid-90s that was all gone

That upbeat music was replaced by angst-rock, violent hip-hop, and at the turn of the century, the auto-tuned bubble-gum pop that is everywhere to this day.

The causes of this are beyond this article. Author Brian Niemeier dates Cultural Ground Zero to 1997, and I'd suggest reading his posts on the subject if you wish further illumination.

The point of this modest post is to point to the effects of this on your mind.

When you shift from a cultural climate of sunny optimism to depressive whiny angst, what would you expect to happen?

Would you expect a jump in anxiety disorders and depression?

A spike in drug addictions?

Unprecedented levels of political polarization as people organize into friends and enemies?

A loss of social cohesion?

We could list symptoms all day long.

It's too quick by far to blame all this on the music. The music reflects the attitudes of the culture as much as anything does. But we'd have to be blind to the fact that the music also influences the culture. This isn't a one-way street.

Even the kinds of stories, and the kinds of heroes, have changed. The never-give-up grit of characters like Rocky are nowhere to be found. Instead we're given the snarky ironic anti-hero with few redeeming qualities.

Either way, for your own sake, you must understand this.

The words in your world you affect you on a level you can't consciously sense.

That "harmless" pop or hip-hop that you keep on in the background affects your mood in ways that you don't notice.

Then you wonder why you're miserable.

Compare all that barbaric downer music to this:

Filter the noise out of your mental world and replace it with beautiful & fine things

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