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LEYZEROVYCH: Validation of feelings proves dangerous


Column: American Insights

In my pursuit of completing one of the more lengthy and insufferable readings for a class, I decided to nest myself for a few hours in one of the leather chairs located on the first floor of the James Dickson Carr Library. 

We all know those chairs. Their shabbiness implying they saw the graduation of James Dickson Carr himself. As I threw myself into one of the chairs, I noticed a yellow sticky note on the inside of the armrest. 

As I peeled it off the leather, I read the contents. In aesthetic handwriting, there was written a message: “Your feelings are valid.” In the lower right corner of the note, there was a doodle of a humanoid, blob-like head with small closed eyes and a mouth stretched in a smile, implying a sort of in-peace aura.

I carefully reattached the adhesive part of the sticky note to the leather lining of the armchair. Now, whoever left a yellow sticky note with an encouraging note and a cute face on the first floor of the James Dickson Carr library, I thank you. 

I know you mean well. A mean-spirited, or vengeful person would not voluntarily compose such note.

That note, though, is complex far beyond simple good-natured college camaraderie and I believe holds great political and cultural meaning for my generation.

This note is simply an example of the much larger movement of self-love that I have watched engulf this country in the past several years. A movement that has been fueled intensely by American-Leftist identity politics and the intersectionality of victimhood. 

But what could be so terrible about self-love? What could be more pure than appreciating yourself just the way you are? After all, the illustration on that note demonstrating top-most serenity certainly seems to imply the overwhelmingly positive connotation of self-love.

But of course, no matter how well-meaning, the statement “your feelings are valid” is not inherently true. The simplicity of the phrase implies universality: All your feeling are valid, all the time. At least to me, that is a ridiculous notion. Our feelings are highly idiosyncratic and are often much more extreme impressions of non-extreme realities. 

Feelings are not thoughts, a critical distinction made by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) — a frequently used personality classification scheme — proving that their irrational nature is not subject to the deductive reasoning of our minds.

The feeling one experiences while gorging on a tub of Häagen-Dazs ice cream at 2 a.m. or shooting heroin into their veins is certainly not valid, because in both cases the feeling ignores the detrimental effects on the subject’s health. 

The feeling to scream “God! I just want to end it all!” on a crowded plane is also not valid, particularly due to the public disturbance the outburst will cause. I bring up these extremes to disprove the notion of the universal validity of feelings, but I do not ignore the ominous root cause of that note.

I strongly believe that the notion of self-love is a developing counterculture to the 21st century American myth of the “Trench Coat Mafia,” a colloquialism of the friend group of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the convicted shooters involved in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. 

I do not use the word myth implying the definition of a false idea, but rather as a traditional story told across a culture. In this case the story of emotionally wounded youths brooding their way through the modernity of American life, their dissent for their insufferable reality accumulating, eventually leading to a violent outburst of self-righteousness where those who had contributed to the psychological strife of those youths are permanently corrected.

Although I believe the stories of Harris, Klebold and similar others have been skewed by the Democratic party as leverage for gun control, I am not writing a column on the 2nd Amendment.

What I am writing about is the new ethos of Generation Z forming from the belief that teenage angst, insecurity and self-destructive thoughts can be placated with the declaration of their validity.

This is an extremely dangerous standard. It flies in the face of rationality and denies the tendencies I just described as treatable by psychotherapy because, of course, the treatment of these tendencies would only disprove their precious validity.

What worries me is that the validation of the more aggressively negative feelings of depression or negative self-image will eventually bleed into the seemingly harmless territory and will destroy American work ethic, charity and innovation, which all require a recognition that the feelings of laziness, greed and purposelessness are invalid!

Yan Leyzerovych is a Rutgers Business School first-year majoring in finance. His column, “American Insights,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.

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