The difference between depression and sadness/despair.
All the genuinely smart, talented, funny people I know seem to be miserable these days. You feel it on Twitter more than Facebook, because Facebook is where you go to do your performance art where you pretend to be a hip, urbane person with the most awesomest friends and the best relationships and the very best lunches ever. Facebook is surface; Twitter is subtext, and judging by what I’ve seen, the subtext is aching sadness.
I’m not immune to this. I don’t remember ever feeling this miserable and depressed in my life, this sense of futility that makes you wish you’d simply go numb and not care anymore.
And I’m not blaming them. The world came apart at the end of the 90s when the World Trade Center did. My buddy Brent and I were talking about this one night last year — about how the end of the 90s looked like a revolution. Everybody was talking about Naomi Klein and anti-consumerism and people in Seattle were rioting over the WTO. Hell, a major motion picture company put out Fight Club, which is about as unsubtle an attack on consumer corporate capitalism as you can get. We were poised on the brink of something. You could feel it.
And then the World Trade Center went down. And all of a sudden calling yourself an “anticapitalist terrorist” was no longer a cool posture to psych yourself up for the protest. It became something you might go to jail for — or worse, to one of the Black Camps on some shithole island somewhere. Corporate capitalism became conflated somehow with patriotism. And the idea that the things you own end up defining you became quaint, as ridiculous spoken aloud as “tune in, turn on, drop out”. In fact, it became a positive: if you bought the right laptop, the right smartphone, the right backpack, exciting strangers would want to have sex with you!
I don’t believe anymore that the answer lies in more or better tech or even awareness. I think the only thing that can save us is us. I think we need to find ways to tribe up again, to find each other and put our arms around each other and make that charm against the dark. I don’t mean in any hateful or exclusionary way, of course. But I think like minds need to pull together and pool our resources and rage against the dying of the light. And I do think rage is a component that’s necessary here: a final fundamental fed-up-ness with the bullshit and an unwillingness to give any more ground to the things that are doing us in. To stop being reasonable. To stop being well-behaved. Not to hate those who are hurting us with their greed and psychopathic self-interest, but to simply stop letting them do it. The best way to defeat an enemy is not to destroy them, but to make them irrelevant.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t know some truth that I can reveal to everyone. All I can do is hurt, and try to stop hurting, and try to help other people stop hurting. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. But isn’t that something worth devoting yourself to, more than building another retarded app that just puts more nonsense and bullshit into the world? Just finding people to love, and healing each other? I think it is.
Until I know more, I’ll just keep holding on. I won’t put the gun in my mouth. Because all of this sadness is worth it if there’s still hope. And I want to still have hope so badly. I still want to believe, in myself, and in you.
First, read the full article. It’s depressing, incredibly profane and utterly in your face. And, unless you seriously can’t handle how people really speak in North America, read it anyway — because it’s almost completely true.
If this guy walked into your average doctor’s office, I can guarantee you the doctor would have the latest SSRI or at least a prescription for some form of antidepressant on the counter so fast it would look like a card trick. The cynical part of me thinks that’s because it’s how we maintain the status quo but, in truth, it’s more likely that most people are just so devoid of imagination they can’t imagine anything different than the life they are already living. (Anyone who can have problems…)
But, he’s not depressed.
What he is is in touch with reality – like so few others.
I get a lot of depressed people in my office — the majority don’t think they are depressed. Yet, every so often, I get someone like this in — they usually think they ARE depressed, but they don’t need meds. What they need is a soapbox, a computer, an IDE, a web site, a word processor, a protest sign, a union, a pulpit, a…
Yet, these are the ones who get medicated the quickest — instead of us giving them the floor or inviting them to start doing something about it.
Thankfully, this guy has already taken that mantle upon himself and he’s trained in one of the few fields that actually have a chance of creating change. Let’s just hope he follows through with it.