“Stockholm syndrome, individuals’ desperate attempts to become like their captors. On a lesser scale it was why good German citizens followed Hitler, Ryan said. Or why any person might compromise his or her convictions without realizing he or she was doing so to be accepted. To be wanted.
The world was suffering from Stockholm syndrome.” (BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker)
The need to be loved has been at the core of the human heart since the beginning of time. In Genesis God Himself recognizes man’s need for attention from someone like himself, saying “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). Man has yearned to be acknowledged and accepted by someone like him from his first days on Earth, and God introduced the family to fulfill this need. God gave man a family on Earth to mirror the Trinitarian family in Heaven for the purpose of giving him a way to be united to those like him, providing man with the love, support, and encouragement he longs for. And though people are called to a variety of different families, the one which is the most essential to society and to a person’s formation is the bond between father, mother, and child. When the family unit is strong, those who grow up within it benefit from its virtue and are able to develop without constantly having to search for the love that their family is not providing them. But when the family decays, gives into the pressures of society, or is not centered on Christ and His love, the children start to look for fulfillment in other, lesser, places.
Modern-day businesses have become experts at appealing to this desire. They produce clothes with brand names clearly displayed, giving those who wear them a false sense of belonging to something. They provide ways for one to amass “friends” and “followers” so that each person can feel like they are loved by many. They design websites that allow one to put all his achievements, talents, actions, and thoughts on public display, to invite the attention that he craves so desperately. Clubs at school, gangs on the street, sports teams, and group organizations all cater to one’s need to be a part of something, to be assured that there are others like them who accept them, like them, and care for them in some way.
As the divorce rates go up and magazines advertise how to have a happy divorce instead of a blissful marriage, increasing amounts of teenagers and young adults flock to these artificial means of acceptance. It is hard to spot a high school or college student on the sidewalk who is not doing something digital; whether texting, posting, tweeting, or pinning, they are constantly on their devices. They must look like they have something to do, people who want to hear from them, and walking down the street alone without visibly proving they have people to communicate with would be the ultimate downfall, because appearing lonely for a second would cause others to think they were outcasts, were not accepted, did not belong. The youth of today are desperate to be loved, and when their families leave them empty, they look for completeness elsewhere. This is why teenagers are becoming pregnant earlier and earlier, this is why girls post videos on YouTube asking guys to rate their bodies, this is why everyone is desperate to do something worthy of a Facebook status, this is why teens will spend hours on end texting about absolutely nothing, and this is why modern young adults are statistically more depressed. They are all crying out for love and attention, and the digital world’s fake approval only leaves them empty. No matter how skinny they get, how many brand-name clothes they wear, how many parties they attend, or Facebook friends they have, they cannot change themselves enough to be liked by everyone, and soon they become so enslaved to trying to please the culture that they forget who they really are.
The family is a necessary part of society, and when it fails, growth stops. This nation needs to refocus on the family, start building from the beginning again, and make the foundations strong so that the love each child yearns for can once again be found in security, truth, and beauty, and not in a societal trend. It is time for adults, for parents, to step up and be the rocks they are supposed to be, and for the young adults of today to rediscover that their hearts will never truly be content until they find their identities in Christ, the One who is always there for them, from whom all truth flows. Then, and only then, will the culture be purified of suffocating insecurity and set free to reach its full potential and change the world for the better, through love, once more.
“The world is suffering from Stockholm syndrome…”
Originally published in The Rambler (Vol. 11 No. 5), a publication of Christendom College, under the title “Someone please love me”.