Does the new normal mean that we are becoming anomie zombies? Are anomic attitudes and assessments making you zombic — so oblivious to moral constraints that you are mesmerized by confusion, restlessness, and unhappiness?
Anomie basically means “normless” and “purposeless.” It comes from the Greek word anomia which means “without law.”
Encyclopedia Britannica defines anomie as “in societies or individuals, a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.” They also say:
“The term was introduced by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his study of suicide. He believed that one type of suicide (anomic) resulted from the breakdown of the social standards necessary for regulating behavior. When a social system is in a state of anomie, common values and common meanings are no longer understood or accepted, and new values and meanings have not developed. According to Durkheim, such a society produces, in many of its members, psychological states characterized by a sense of futility, lack of purpose, and emotional emptiness and despair. Striving is considered useless, because there is no accepted definition of what is desirable.”
Émile Durkheim taught that when clear moral values and standards for individuals disappear into anomie (normlessness), life becomes empty and meaningless for people. Without “clear rules, norms, or standards of value” people become anxious, alienated, confused, and sometimes suicidal.
Here are a few quotes from Durkheim:
“Sadness is a product of our own thought.”
“It is inadmissible that systems of ideas like religions, which have held so considerable a place in history, and to which, in all times, men have come to receive the energy which they must have to live, should be made up of a tissue of illusions.”
“Although our moral conscience is a part of our consciousness, we do not feel ourselves on an equality with it. In this voice which makes itself heard only to give us orders and establish prohibitions, we cannot recognize our own voices; the very tone in which it speaks to us warns us that it expresses something within us that is not of ourselves.”
“A loose morality is appropriate only to decadent peoples and is found only among them.”