Why is society so toxic? The top 13 reasons

“In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create.”

– Raoul Vaneigem

Why is society so toxic?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the years.

The answers are pretty harsh, but they’re undeniable.

This is why.

1) Society encourages reckless group behavior

When one person acts violently, horribly or insanely, they usually end up being identified as someone who’s “not OK” and “needs help.”

But when an entire society “needs help,” it tends to be the opposite.

The toxic, violent, insane behaviors become normalized.

Those who don’t engage in them become identified as the ones who are strange or off track.

It’s quite a sick equation.

The crazed behavior of the mob becomes the norm, and the few voices of those who don’t agree become seen as dangerous and nuts.

Like German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said:

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

When going with the flow means a one-way trip to the sewer, you’re better off turning the other direction.

2) The breakdown of family has gutted society

Many people may think it’s just a tired cliche, but the breakdown of family has truly gutted society.

Whatever your views on family formation, the nuclear family and more, the statistics about family breakdown are disturbing.

They show a pattern of children from broken families growing up to have a much higher rate of violent crime, drug abuse, suicide and mental health issues.

The amount of people affected by turbulent family situations such as divorce and being born to single parents is very high, so we’re not just talking about a few hundred folks here.

As the Institute for Family Studies notes:

“About 35% of American adolescents live without one of their parents, and around 40% of American children are born outside of marriage.”

3) Loss of faith and spiritual values has left us in a meaning vacuum

We hear plenty of criticism out there of organized religion and mainstream faith.

But what you don’t often hear is a viable replacement for it.

Some people cling to science as being enough to base society on, but it’s clearly not. In addition to numerous ethical hurdles, science just doesn’t give you the meaningful motivation for living life.

Spirituality has a lot of potential, for sure.

But one of the big challenges I see with spirituality and New Age things is that they’re overly generic.

They become like a giant mixed fruit bowl where people pick out what they like and discard the rest.

Law of Attraction, anyone?

The point is that organized religion used to provide a lot of structure that’s now missing.

This is making society a more toxic place in my opinion.

4) We’re consuming more useless and toxic content than ever before

jumpstory download20211218 033533 Why is society so toxic? The top 13 reasons

Garbage in, garbage out.

That’s a solid rule for diet and for many other aspects of life.

It applies very well to modern society’s habit of consuming absolute dreck and then wondering why they’re on edge, hopeless, anxious…

We watch films, TV series and other content that is full of meaningless violence, sex, mindf*ck storylines and all around twisted, psychopathic content.

Then we wonder why society is becoming so toxic?

It’s becoming toxic because we’re shoveling radioactive mind poison into our eyeballs all day.

Eric Sangerma writes well about this, noting:

“We’ve developed a thirst for shallow information and entertainment. I’m not saying we should all start reading classics by candlelight (as peaceful as that sounds).

“But there’s much to be gained about enjoying books and movies with more substance.”

5) Political polarization has driven people even further apart

There’s a lot of talk about political polarization and how it’s getting worse.

I think it’s true.

From Poland to Brazil I’ve been in numerous countries where people are strongly divided by their political opinions.

But it’s not just that…

Residents and friends tell me that it’s gotten noticeably worse in the past decade or so.

Politics that used to be a rare topic of discussion is now breaking up families and making old friends curse each other on the street.

I believe that the reason is simple:

Many core cultural values are no longer shared, and politics is becoming a stand-in for our core cultural identities.

It’s no longer about different opinions, it’s become about good vs. evil.

And that makes society a very toxic place.

6) Many people are living in make-believe bubbles of denial

On a related note, the digital age and growing individualisation has led many people to live in little bubbles of denial.

They choose one subject, profession or lifestyle that speaks to them and then block everything else out.

They punch in their destination address on the GPS and ignore the homeless all over the streets on the way.

They go golfing on Saturday and don’t think about the enormous environmental devastation that landscaping one golf course causes.

It’s not that people are stupid, per se, it’s that they’ve put on the blinders.

We like to think we live in such an open-minded day and age, but we’re really just living in carefully-tailored separate realities.

And when another reality or point of view intrudes we tend to get quite upset.

As Times of India notes:

“Not knowing something is okay.

“But knowing only one thing, and completely rejecting everything else is not going to take you a long way.”

7) Social media addiction is turning people into attention-starved crybullies

There are all sorts of great things about social media.

Heck, you might have clicked this link via social media.

But the issue overall is that social media is increasing people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) and is making us all want to be celebrities.

If not enough people watch my story on Instagram I start to feel devalued.

Or if something bad happens to me I want to get on Facebook and whine about it to see what kind of sympathy I can milk from some of my friends (maybe even an attractive girl or two).

Then there’s all the opinions: we all have plenty of them.

Places like Twitter let us air these opinions out and trash those who don’t share them.

Then if they respond we cry foul! This crybully behavior is only getting worse as social media spreads…

8) Heartless corporations are raping the planet and society

I’ll cut straight to the chase here.

Heartless corporations who don’t care about you or your loved ones are tearing up the environment and tearing up your family.

They outsource labor to developing nations, pump toxic chemicals all through nature and then sell you back cheap products which you pay for off government benefits.

You used to have a job, now you have a few bucks and a Dollar Tree dollar store a two-minute walk from your shared walk-in apartment next to a crack house.

It’s not exactly a recipe for social harmony, to say the least.

And as the 1% continues to grow in power and hijack democracies with impunity, more and more people are mentally checking out. They don’t want to invest anymore in a society which doesn’t invest in them.

“The increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the 1% is considered an inevitable prize for those who dared to possess it, through whatever means necessary,” notes Dr. Jean Kim.

“To share anything for the rest is considered an intrusion on manifest destiny; that the fittest survive.

“American capitalism, after periods of reform and balance brought on by snake oil barons in the Golden Age and the systemic collapse of the Great Depression, has reverted to toxic individualism.”

9) Gender roles have been twisted and weaponized

pexels anete lusina 5721325 Why is society so toxic? The top 13 reasons

This will be controversial, but I might as well just lay it out there.

Our modern society has twisted and weaponized gender roles and it’s causing life to become really stressful and loveless.

Women are told they must be more “assertive” and manly to be considered a success and prioritize their careers above family.

Men are told they must be “softer” and more sensitive to be considered non-toxic.

The result is that women are becoming more and more miserable, and men are becoming more and more toxic.

The worst potential sides of femininity and masculinity are being amplified as people imbibe propaganda from our media, politicians and educational system.

It’s a mess.

As Becki Kozel writes:

“If the precariousness of the male identity is more potentially destructive than masculine behaviors, one would expect the most toxic behavior to occur in the most precarious groups.

“And that’s exactly what is happening.”

10) Hyper individualism is destroying society

As I said at the beginning, reckless group behavior is one reason society has become so toxic.

It may seem paradoxical, then, to say that hyper individualism is also part of the problem.

But it is.

Part of the reason that people are so mindless these days is that they can only see their own interests and point of view.

This makes them, ironically, much easier to control as a group.

Because selfishness is something that social engineers can use like a fine-tuned mechanism.

And if they already know that you only care about yourself they can find a million other people who only care about themselves and get them to act as an unconsciously unified, destructive or enslaved group.

11) Workplace environments are bringing out the worst in people

Another big problem with modern society is how our work is dehumanizing us.

Working on computers or in more white collar jobs can be good, but it can also lead to fractured social environments.

More generally, longer hours and cut benefits are also leading to people being overworked as they try to keep pace with inflation and the rising cost of living.

This often brings out the worst in everyone.

As Chloé Meley observes:

“Toxic masculinity in the workplace manifests in the form of the Persecutor, while toxic femininity channels the archetypes of the Rescuer and the Victim.”

12) Our obsession with shallow forms of sex is leaving us intimacy-starved

Sex is good. It’s the origin of life, and it can be a wonderful expression of love and intimacy.

But only sex all the time is like eating whip cream all the time instead of food, or building houses out of ice cream cones.

It seems great, but it doesn’t really last. And once it’s gone you feel hollow again.

Our society’s fixation on pornographic cheap sex has left many of us feeling intimacy-starved.

We feel so empty inside but don’t know how to fill it.

So we search for more food, drugs, drinks, pills or sex partners to feel something again…

And everytime it’s a little bit more numb and our connection with our vitality and our real creative selves seems further away…

13) Relationships are increasingly transactional and shallow

I wish I could say that all the hype about relationships going downhill is just hype.

But it’s real.

We’ve become a one-click society where love affairs are born and die in a matter of days.

There’s little buildup or tension between one swipe to the next.

Relationships are increasingly transactional and hollow, as we accept people’s outer labels as the truth and move from one unsatisfying encounter to the next.

As for those of folks in long-term relationships?

Far too many are full of tension, toxicity, misunderstandings and even emotional or physical abuse.

It’s becoming a real horror show.


If society is toxic, where can you go to detox?

That’s a good question, and I’m very aware that not all of us can afford some kind of exclusive meditation retreat or special therapy.

That’s why it’s important to sit quietly for a moment and reflect.

With all the mess going on around us and all the broken relationships and misunderstands, what can you still rely on?

What relationship is there which can still bring you happiness and fulfillment?

The truth is, most of us overlook an incredibly important element in our lives:

The relationship we have with ourselves.

I learnt about this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. In his genuine, free video on cultivating healthy relationships, he gives you the tools to plant yourself at the center of your world.

He covers some of the major mistakes most of us make in our relationships, such as codependency habits and unhealthy expectations. Mistakes most of us make without even realizing it.

So why am I recommending Rudá’s life-changing advice?

Well, he uses techniques derived from ancient shamanic teachings, but he puts his own modern-day twist on them. He may be a shaman, but his experiences in love weren’t much different to yours and mine.

Until he found a way to overcome these common issues. And that’s what he wants to share with you.

So if you’re ready to make that change today and cultivate healthy, loving relationships, relationships you know you deserve, check out his simple, genuine advice.

Click here to watch the free video.

The next move is up to you

The next move is up to you.

Society has lots wrong with it, but the choice is ultimately simple:

Do you want to become part of the problem or part of the solution?

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.