“The Human Condition” is one of those phrases used so often during my literature courses in college that it lost all meaning. In fact, when I’d hear it I’d sort of do a mental eye roll and prepare myself for the inevitable flowery bullshit that was about to follow the phrase. It was something that people would use to sound more intelligent or make their points sound more important.
In case you have not be subjected to the phrase ad nauseam (see, that’s another flourish used to sound more important), “The Human Condition” is supposed to refer to the shared challenges we face living in the modern age with all its contradictions and complexities. What it often really refers to is how upper middle class white people in American suburbia deal with their ennui (again–score!). I don’t say that to be flip–rarely would you hear of examples prefaced with “The Human Condition” that deal with abject poverty, the plight of the working class, or what it means to be in some marginalized group. It’s something other American upper middle class white people say to universalize their own challenges, which may be legitimate but would be subject to derision among people facing more immediate crises.
So, with that healthy disclaimer showing I realize the folly of what I’m about to share, I give you an interesting thought that popped into my head last night:
The human condition is this: We feel the pain and loneliness of no one knowing who we really are, but we fear the rejection of sharing that authentic version of ourselves. This contradiction and the resulting actions and thoughts constitute a deep dissatisfaction with a life that is by nearly all accounts comfortable, safe, and desirable.
I’d like to say this is a little more applicable to the general American populace than most of these kinds of statements, but I realize my perspective is limited by my own situation that fits wholly into my characterization of the type of person described above.