Pages like “Nihilist Memes” on Facebook have 1.8 million likes. People think that they can get their daily dose of “nihilism” from there. But it is sad and funny to see how teens who subscribe to these pages think that nihilism means leaving the world for the better and abandoning everything that belongs to you.

Those memes aren’t nihilistic. They are depressive. And by that I don’t mean to condescend depression, I just want you to understand that the definition being fed to you through these memes is completely false.

1. “There is only suffering.”

Wrong nihilism meme
Should I just cringe?

I can’t believe how mistaken people are/can be. Interestingly, nihilism was meant to reduce the everyday suffering by believing that human being should believe in no authority over themselves. It was therefore a respite to the oppressed people to resort to nihilism because it directly challenged any power – be it the state or other human beings.

Nihilism can be amoral and lead to violence, but nowhere is it associated with “suffering”. That is just… bizarre.

Also read: Internet Memes Are A 21st Century Art Form And We’re Here To Tell You Why

2. “Nothing exists.”

Nihilism memes, Be Like Emily
Uh-oh, Emily doesn’t understand nihilism either.

Terribly, terribly wrong. Nihilism relied on scientific enquiry and was heavily influenced by science.

According to nihilism, the only thing that exists is that which can be proven scientifically. It did not believe in things like morality, justice, power because they could not be proven by any scientific experiment.

Sure you can say that your feelings are determined by the enzyme secretion in your body, but you cannot come to the conclusion that nothing exists. Because to a nihilist, nature and its bounty does exist, and that is a source of satisfaction.

3. Nihilism is supposed to be a happy state

Nihilism - the reality
True that.

Nihilists were probably one of the most content people and contributed a lot in overthrowing monarchy in Russia or changing the unequal social structures.

The state of not believing in any authority and just relying on empirical truth was what satisfied them. This trope of nihilist existing in black-and-white photographs, lost in the troubles of his/her day only makes me cringe a bit more than I am supposed to.

There is no destruction of the Self, as often the internet memes depict it. According to the great nihilist, Nietzsche, a nihilist is basically a person who destroys everything that was established. He takes the example of india – if in india, everything is so dependent on community life, and there is one individual who rejects that lifestyle and concentrates on himself, that is a nihilist. 

This is yet another example of why you should not feed everything that the internet is giving to you because there are so many things that the internet has no clue about itself. Do your own investigations. There might be lies being fed in the name of humour.

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  1. There’s so much wrong with this article. To name a few:
    1. Evidence isn’t cited in support of ‘teens’ learning nihilism through memes.
    2. No evidence to support the claim the nihilists tend to be content.
    3. The author confuses anarchy, nihilism and existentialism. Despite Nihilism being the founding philosophy of many other schools of thought, they have different nuances which the author does not grasp. Hence, nihilism in this article is presented as an agglomerate of ideas from distinct schools of thought.
    4. The author resorts to condescension instead of explanation of her observations and well formed rebuttals of the topic she presents.
    5. The final paragraph of this article cautions the reader against trusting online sources, however, this article itself does not site original and/or peer reviewed work to substantiate it’s observations, interpretation and claims.

    A side note: Google scholar is an excellent place to start educating oneself on topics of interests. Most articles, in reasonable academic journals, are peer reviewed by other academics.


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