We’re a bunch of miserable motherfuckers. How much of our day is spent fuming because of politics, religion, he/she said bullshit, etc.? How much of that shit actually impacts the progress of your day? Will that politician’s tweet mean you can’t log into your work computer this morning? Does your friend’s failing relationship keep you from taking your daughter to karate class? So what if a C-list actress got Botox? Can you still put on your shoes? Good! Go on with your day, pal. Not every thing you disagree with will be the end of your world as you know it.
“Yeah, yeah. We want proof.”
Americans are notorious for hanging onto national tragedies like an old favorite blanket. When something goes bad, they drag it out, wrap up in the pain, and wallow like it’s the day it happened instead of letting people move on. There’s nothing wrong with being happy, even if other people are hurting. Emotional self-flagellation pleases no one. I’m not saying we forget the dead or bulldoze memorials. But maybe, perhaps, stop to do an empathy check more often. Do you want someone breathing down your neck twenty-four-seven, talking about the night your child was murdered? How about pop art featuring your rapist’s face? I could not fathom walking down the street and a shop window has the face from my nightmares duplicated dozens of times. Could you? Then why do we feed a media which sustains itself solely on the misery of others? Why the meme chains with garishly nationalistic overtones memorializing the day millions of people’s lives changed for the worse? I’m honestly asking here. My mind does not function in a way which allows me to justify making a buck when someone, somewhere, is jolted from their sleep because they’re dreaming yet again about the blood-drenched bar echoing with ringing phones—loved ones searching for those who’ll never answer the call.
“That’s nothing compared to m—” I’m going to stop you right there. Misery contests are soul-sucking beasts which need to be sent to hell already. “I’m poorer than you.” “My father is sicker than yours!” Constantly one-upping one another beats the other person down, making their pain seem insignificant, though it may control their entire lives. Belittling another person won’t make your day any better. It only makes their day worse. Obviously they’re already in a bad place if all they can think about is the crap bogging down their life. There’s no need to heap more dino shit onto the five-foot tall pile of dino shit. It’s overkill and just plain awful to do to another living being. Would you deny a dehydrated dog half a cup of water because you’ve only had a quarter cup, yet there’s plenty of water to go around? Shit like this is a human trait I wish would vanish already. Cruelty for no other reason than your miserable ass wants company.
We’ve got to stop using pain to justify shitty behavior. The primary reason racism exists to the extent it does in 2016 is directly due to the false correlation some see—and perpetuate—between certain races/religions and terrorism/crime/drug-dealing/etc.. Go ahead. Stop and think for a gods damned minute. Look at the political circus, how the Republicans run almost entirely on a platform of, “They hurt us, we’ll hurt them back thrice as hard!” More often than not, the pain is entirely financial. So what’s that got to do with Jim in Nevada who rents an apartment with his little dog and goldfish? Ain’t his money at stake. Unless the winning party is keen to set new tax laws in place which would further extort money from a single man working a standard wage job in an unremarkable office building who is barely covering all the bills. Or what about Petunia, living in Florida on a work visa from (perceived enemy) country? How secure is her one chance to earn enough money to become a citizen and escape the family who wants to marry her to a man forty years her senior? She never did anything worse than jaywalk, but if these people win control of the government, they’ll call her a terrorist and send her to a life she will never consent to. Not every person of a race acts the same. Why hold them all accountable to the same degree as the extremists who bombed a public market? It makes no sense.
The Negativity Vortex of Social Media—occurs in high-tension times, such as mass murders, holidays memorializing tragedy, and political discussions. It’s not enough to simply say, “This thing is awful, quit fucking doing it,” and be done until a healthy discussion brews. The vortex demands evidence. Visual evidence is best. Those caught in the vortex willingly plaster images of murdered children, animals, horrifically injured individuals, nude bodies you personally find grotesque, etc., all in the name of supporting a cause when in reality, they’re exploiting the victim in a vain attempt to ease their minds. I’d rather watch puppies playing in a ball pit. I’d rather my friends watch them play with me. Flinging something awful in their face isn’t how you show you care, about your friends or the subject you feel about so strongly. There is always a better option to express yourself. Use Your Words.
Negativity in the name of doing good never works. This is often used when two parties are pitted against each other—be it political, or a disagreement between friends. “Don’t listen to Suzie, she’s slept with half the fraternity next door. Emily has been in a relationship for years, her advice is better. Let her help you with your breakup.” Examples like this don’t seem to have a big impact, but it completely disregards Suzie as a person. Over what? Her perceived hyper-sexuality? Suddenly, Suzie’s vagina walks into the conversation in her stead, leaving her socially taxed without adequate representation. Maybe she’s been through this scenario before and just wants to help before the problem escalates. They don’t know because they chose to address her vagina instead of the woman herself.
“So we’re hateful, miserable shits. How do we fix it?” *ahem* “Talk less. Smile more.” Burr is kind of a shit in Hamilton, but he does have a point. To an extent. In context, this is a tact to manipulate others into trusting him without doing any actual work to climb the social ladder. Out of context, it becomes so much more. When it feels like shit won’t stop raining from the sky, stop. Just stop saying anything about it for a moment. Go find your happy place. Take five to laugh. It isn’t impossible. We all know what makes us happy. It’s not some great universal secret. I like eating peach cobbler and watching Casper on the first day of Autumn. Why? It makes me happy to have a little ritual to look forward to during my busiest season in the year. I need no other reason. Neither do you.
Nor do your friends and family. It’s perfectly okay to point out the misery cycle if someone you love is caught in a vicious one. Feel awkward talking about emotions? Then reach out and find their happy for them. Send a ridiculous gif. Ship their favorite snack to their house. Give them a fucking hug the next time you see them. Love has never required words. Sure, they help when action alone isn’t enough to convey everything, but I’ve grown to love someone more sitting on the couch watching a movie in silence than after a day-long date spent telling each other everything about ourselves. I may be simple when it comes to matters of the heart; I don’t know. It just seems like so many forget that it can be shared. Even in the most unexpected ways. Like friends spending what would be one of their last days together picking out a dog for one of them. And that dog turns out to be a total spazz, but so, so smart, always reminding the one who stayed of the one who’s gone. All their times together come back. It’s wonderful. They’re never apart, though they may never speak again.
I’m pleading with you. For your sanity’s sake, go find your happy. Quit perpetuating the misery cycle. Take a break from berating those you think are in the wrong and just let them be for a day. Smile more. Your face won’t shatter, I promise.