Like many women, my wife Amie likes to watch Instagram reels. These are little clips, mostly from the lives of women, where the algorithm figures out what you like and feeds you more of it. The technology allows you to engage in a kind of virtual community with people all around the globe who are just like you. Eventually through algorithmic convergence, "everyone" you see videos from has the same problems as you, the same experiences, the same interests, and the same joys. This appears to be especially appealing to and emotionally uplifting for women. This has fed into the "trad life" online culture for conservative women that has been criticised by insane harpies like the Disinformation Project's Kate Hannah who see this as the gateway to white supremacy. She's not completely wrong, in a good way, but that's another story for another time.
Three months ago Amie showed me a reel that said the only thing men want to hear from a woman is, "If you had been in charge, Rome would not have fallen to the Visigoths."
"Is this true?" she asked me. Of course it was. Little did we know this was the start of something bigger.
This month the premise behind that short video went viral. Women everywhere were asking their husbands how often they thought about the Roman Empire. Every day. Or a few times a week. At the very least once or twice a month.
Why? These women were in a panic. Perhaps this was due to some conspiracy? Their men must have been aware of the meme or been involved in some secret pact. The few men that don't think about Rome confessed to thinking about some other empire or historical conflict with similar frequency.
Of course, the explanation is simple: the small facets of civilisation that we take for granted all go back to the Roman Empire—down to the roads, plumbing, and concrete.
You see current events, like the USAF losing a $135m F35 fighter jet by accident, and what is the first thing you think of? The slow collapse of civilisation.
In some ways Rome never fell: the Roman eagle still flies at the head of a global-spanning empire. In other ways, Rome is always falling.
Can anyone look at the state of decline, the social chaos, the absolute insanity of the modern world and not think of Rome? I've been reading Augustine's City of God this year and often stopped to muse how things he wrote 1,600 years ago could be reprinted verbatim today with complete relevance to our current social ills.
What's the female equivalent? Thinking about Pride and Prejudice? The Victorian Era? Babies? Answers have been posited, but there is no viral interest in what this common experience might be for the opposite sex. I think this goes back to the innate differences between men and women. Women like to talk about their problems; men like to solve problems. The feeling of being in control of events and their destiny is necessary for men in the way that it isn't for women. In that need comes the appeal to ponder the events on which history turns.
Thinking about history is a good and healthy thing. We live in continuity with the past and there is nothing new under the sun.
You can't think of the worst insanity we experience today, like the belief that men can become women, without also thinking "not even the Romans at their lowest point were this mad."