Hyperbole and a Half: Adventures in Depression

Hyperbole and a Half: Adventures in Depression

I always like Hyperbole and a Half, but their take on depression is so on point and human that I feel the need to share it with any of y’all that are reading this site. 


Acting like a good worker

To be callously indifferent to the suffering of others is a mark of being a psychopath. There’s something in the air of society that gives me the creeping feeling that society itself has gone mad. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been loved enough in my life that I see people as disingenuous, a world masquerading as kind when it pushes real suffering under the table. Or perhaps its society’s unwillingness to come to terms with reality when it comes to looking for a job. If the shoe fits, you know.

I’m looking for a job now and I’m worried about not “saying the wrong thing”, like I’m going to mention that I was fired from my past job or anything like that, it’s far more expansive than that. Just in email correspondence that I’m going to break form or break a rule that I’m not aware of.

I’m in correspondence with this one employer right now, I’m not even sure if the job is even paying, but if it was, it looks good and I want to be paid for doing that. And I’m by my computer and answering emails as soon as she sends them to me, and I’m worried that being responsive looks desperate or something. Like is a key part of employment acting like you don’t really need the job? And other things too, like in the correspondence I don’t say Dear soandso every time, or any other of the infinite hypothetical rules I could be breaking. Because these days, it’s not about doing a job, it’s about performing a role or some shit.

Barbra Ehrenreich has a good video on ridiculous optimism in the corporate world (and I don’t want to be anywhere near that), and it’s bizarre. People are getting fired and then sent to support groups to tell them that being fired…is an opportunity. Can you believe that? Does that make sense to you? And if there was anything bad about this whole process, it’s entirely in their heads. Here, I’ll post the video, see for yourself.

You tell me if I’m mistaken or something, but here’s my thesis: jobs today are not about filling skills, they’re about perpetuating optimism and the belief in capitalism itself. And I’ll start you off with two pieces of evidence to chew on.

  • Karen Ho wrote an ethnography of Wall Street investment banks before the crash; she went to New York and worked there for years to understand their minds inside and out. In the orientation to Wall Street, in lectures when they would come to UPenn campus and other Ivies, the lecturer said that you don’t actually need an economics degree to work for for Wall Street; anyone can do it. And not only that, but Karen Ho went to Princeton but didn’t study economics. She was favored, actually favored, over people from UPenn who actually knew more than her solely because her employer thinks Princeton is “a more pure Ivy”  than UPenn. You tell me what’s the deal with that.
  • It’s necessary for the economy to be optimistic, even in the face of failure. I think there’s a real reason why they call it a depression when people can’t make money. When things are looking good but people start to think that the party might run out soon, so they leave, it causes a panic. Hell, it’s even become the key role of the White House to
    “calm the markets”, because nervous investors withdraw their money and society ceases to function.

That’s all for today. Thanks to my newfound subscriber friends! Hope you enjoy yourselves here.

edit: I mean, look, obviously my fear of rejection or doing something wrong is something that’s unique to me. But you know what’s not unique to me? The difficulty of finding a job, or that half of US imports from China are from United States companies. The personal scars of trauma come from a society that in one way or another endorsed the behavior. Rape culture. I see what’s wrong with me replicated in society, and motherfucker, I am going to do something about it.