Why Some People Will Never Wake Up

It's amazing to me how many people in our modern world live in massive denial. Try explaining to someone steeped in mainstream news that the United States could face a massive economic collapse. They are likely to laugh at you. I guess this denial is a direct result of having too much prosperity - you just think it will always be like that.

The denial extends beyond just economics, however.

I spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles, and, having survived a major earthquake there, my ears pick up at any earthquake news. So while I understand that making a big fuss over a mere 4.4 is a bit silly, it would be stupid to write off a quake found on a new fault in Los Angeles. And yet, here we have a prime example of a person in denial in this comment exchange from a Los Angeles Times story:

Comment from Romarin:

Hello Alarmists! Gotta love this story. No news in a piddly 4.4 quake so never mind that in 99.9% of all quakes the first one is the largest. Now, it's they are purporting it to be a precursor of the "Big One" yet to come.

Good luck with that. Waiting for a big one. oh, hey, SETI just made contact with an ET from a galaxy far far away. Ha, ha, hehe. Now go get a life.

Response from If You Say So:

The 6.7 Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994, beneath the San Fernando Valley. The death toll was 57, with more than 5,000 injured and over $20 billion in property damage.

Two seismic clusters, located 25 km to the south and 35 km to the north-northwest, preceded the mainshock by 7 days and 16 hours, respectively.

Right. So believing in the scientific theory that a small earthquake could possibly be a precursor to a larger one is on par with believing in ET. Wow.

If you think that's bad, it gets worse. Some well-paid idiots in the Los Angeles City Council want an investigation done to see if this quake was caused by...


Uh, yeah. Let's go waste taxpayer money on fracking studies in a city that lives on top of numerous active faults, many of which have not even been mapped yet! Talk about denial! Or agenda! Or both!

Los Angeles is a great study in denial - beyond the obsession with youth and beauty. I had recently gotten out of college and was living with my boyfriend in Venice Beach when the Northridge Earthquake hit. It was nasty. I had previously experienced my first big quake (the Landers quake of '92) out in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles, and that was a gentle, rolling motion that felt like being on a boat.

The Northridge Earthquake felt like trying to stand on top of a moving jackhammer. It was a violent quake, extremely violent. And it terrified me. (See the picture of the brick storefronts above: I'm not 100% certain of the location, because it is not in the photo credits, but that appears to be Santa Monica, which was devastated by the quake. That would have been about 5 minutes from me.)

I'm not sure what possessed me to stay in Los Angeles after that traumatic experience, but stay I did. I justified it in my mind that these big quakes only happened every 20 years or so, so I had until about 2014 before another big one was due. (I actually planned to get out of Los Angeles before then, and I did.)

Still, every time I felt a minor earthquake I would run to a doorway, afraid it would turn bigger. (Note: Big earthquakes start with little jolts. If you ever do experience a quake, don't assume it will stay small.) Before I went to bed at night, I would wonder if I would be woken up by another nightmare quake, in the same way the Northridge Earthquake woke me up.

Here's what interests me about psychology. Some of the folks I knew who had been in Northridge brushed it off and didn't really think about it too much. And then there were all the people I met who moved to Los Angeles after Northridge. They had never experience a large earthquake. They only experienced little jolts every once in a while. You get used to those little jolts, and eventually they don't seem to be such a big deal.

Those people who have experienced only the little jolts, and never the big ones, have no idea what might be coming. And a good many of these folks, attuned to be cynical due to a media far too focused on mocking alternative viewpoints, are in complete denial of the danger a massive earthquake poses to them.

(Never mind trying to tell them that they are also in danger of Fukushima radiation.)

Here's the flawed thinking:

You see, tragic earthquakes "only" occur in far off places, in third world countries, where building codes are non-existent. That's something that happens to them, not us!

This is further compounded by these lines of thought:

For years, scientists have been going on about the "Big One," and it hasn't happened yet. And California was supposed to drop into the sea! And it hasn't happened yet. Therefore, any warnings that a "Big One" might occur are just silly fantasies being pushed by people who want attention and/or money.

This is the same type of thinking that makes people scoff at the idea of an American financial collapse.

It can't happen here.

People who warn about it are just fear-mongering.

When the full-blown cynicism gets into gear, the knives also come out: Anyone who talks about a financial collapse has a "tin foil hat" on. They are "crazy." Annoying. Off-putting. Worthy of derision.

I once in a while see folks like that on this website. When you stray off of certain approved topics, the cynical folks go into mental shut down mode. Then the concern trolling starts: "I really hope this website doesn't continue this tin-foil hat trend. What a shame that would be. Tsk tsk."

I don't know if it's a particular thing about Americans these days, or just a trait of human nature in general, but what ever happened to open inquiry? Tolerance of differing viewpoints? Curiosity over why people think the way they do?

And what about the people who have woken up? Why do they wake up? Were they asleep in the first place?

What is it about certain people that they have broken through denial and have fully faced an uncertain future, willing to accept that it might not be as easy breezy as the past was?

It can't just be about IQ. I know people with very high IQs who are in complete and total denial of the fragility of our economic system. They believe every word Paul Krugman writes. They are selective about what facts they allow into their brains. They would laugh and mock this website with excessive vigor.

I wonder, actually, if part of the ability to see past the mainstream media programming has to do with how much of an outcast you are or have been. People who feel like they fit in, and consider themselves to be "well-adjusted," don't have a psychological need to think outside the box. They benefit from our culture and feel good about being a part of it.

Consider the outcast, however. By outcast, I don't mean nutjob or loser. I just mean someone who isn't part of the "approved" culture that is pushed by the media. Maybe you simply live in flyover country, or you are a biker, or you (gasp) go to an evangelical church. Or, like me, maybe you were a nerd in high school and never part of the popular crowd.

Since I never got validation from the popular group, I don't seek it now.

You have to be careful, however. There's a tendency, when being an outcast, to flip your allegiance from the greater culture and grasp on to your own outcast group even harder. This is perhaps why fundamentalist Latter Day Saints are so damn crazy and evil.

People need group approval and validation, it seems.

So think about how difficult it would be for the average adult steeped in the mainstream culture to break free of their own accord. They've got their nice suburban house, a good job, and a subscription to Netflix. They are busy watching Game of Thrones. They drive their kids to school and after-school activities. They feel good about themselves in their McMansion. They don't have time to think more deeply.

Only a disruption to their tony lifestyle could jar them into questioning.

Young people are still forming their worldview, so if they are given a reason to jump from one group to another, they might still do that. This young woman went from being an avid Obama supporter to finally realizing he was a fraud:

Why I'm burning my last bridge with Obama

(She can now add to her list Obama's new executive order that allows him to seize assets of any American if you're caught enabling any resistance to the new puppet regime in the Ukraine. Oops. There goes my bank account!)

Yet kids, much more so than adults, are also easily swayed into groups based on what's cool and hip, and not what's smart or realistic. This is why some of them are busy being Juggalos or agonizing over words like "bossy," rather than dealing with the bigger reality of the national debt.

Now, journalists are saying that Millennials are not being put into boxes like their generational predecessors, but I'm a bit skeptical of this. Being "independent" for a lot of them still means voting a certain way and rallying around the latest politically correct cause.

If they were more awake, they would be marching on Washington to demand that politicians stop burdening them with massive debt. When I start seeing stories about Millennials turning to farming as a life path or learning how to be self-sufficient, then I might have a bit more hope for them.

But right now, one of their biggest concerns is banning the song "Blurred Lines" from college campuses, because someone interpreted it as a rape song. (I'm not speaking to the merits of this song, but considering I've heard an actual rap song that calls for the rape of the Virgin Mary, Blurred Lines is tame by today's standards. My inner Conspiracy Theorist wonders if Robin Thicke in his black and white Illuminati Beetlejuice suit had been put up to writing the lyrics precisely to cause an uproar on college campuses! ;-) )

Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell & T.I (Lyric video by K.Jevon.D)

A hyper focus on potential cultural offense, and a lack of awareness of fiscal realities, means that most of these young people probably aren't even aware that folks are warning of a financial collapse.

There's a Big One coming, and they haven't even felt the little jolts yet.

For quite a lot of folks, young and old, they will never believe the Big One is actually going to hit until it hits them. And by then, it will be far too late.

Stephanie blogs sporadically at a number of websites, including Freeople and Free Thinking Christianity.

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