Is Everyone Else Depressed?


#1

I’ve made no secret of being heavily affected by this last election cycle and the rise of fascism and nazism. I would like to say that I’ve gotten better since then but it seems instead I’ve stayed more or less the same (with more coping strategies) and everyone around me has gotten worse. Now everyone I talk to seems to be depressed, getting depressed, or escaping via work or entertainment.

That had me wondering if this is specific to my bubble of friends, or a more general malaise settling into everyone with beating hearts and two neurons capable of empathy. When I google this I just get pages upon pages of articles handwringing over phones and internet, when I feel there is something more profoundly wrong today.

It kinda feels like everything is coming to a head, where no one can take it anymore, but no one’s acknowledging that fact. Does anyone else feel that way / see that in their friends?


#2

No; but the struggle against what I call “the Dread” has become an everyday battle, when it used to be only every couple of months or so.

There’s a constant tension in my neck, and an almost breathlessness that comes over me frequently while I keep my fingers tightly crossed and pray that the relative quiet surrounding Mueller’s investigation actually means something positive… I hope against hope that we have not yet gone past to point of no return and can still pull back from the brink of madness…

That’s a helluva psychological load to deal with, day in and day out; I know all too well how it can seem overwhelming at times…


#3

I don’t know if I can call it “depressed” with me. “Baffled dismay” describes it better. I’m wired in a way that I tend to intellectualise analyse things, and most of the people in my circles do the same, so that helps. No-one is really happy with how things are going on the global political scene, but they’re trying to channel those feelings toward coping and survival mechansisms (some good, some not so good) rather than allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by fear and despair.

Despite being liberals and progressives for the most part, they are all fairly privileged. I can certainly understand those with less privilege feeling a lot more helpless, even if they are too busy scrambling to see the big picture.


#4

The trouble I’ve been having is that while I work from home and have the luxury of checking the news, the BBS, and Twitter during the day, I live with two friends who work in offices which allow little to no web access. So while I can assimilate and process and deal with the latest BS – oh, today they’ve decided to take this common-sense right away, destroy this natural wonder, and eliminate this thing that affects my quality of life? fuuuuck — once the housemates get home and open up CNN, it’s another hour of people screaming and shouting about it and wishing death on the man and his administration.

I guess what I’m saying is that while I know that we’re in a time of resistance, I’m not quite sure how long I can actively deal with the sheer level of being-fucked-over and what seems like sheer cruelty. I’m nearly constantly angry and upset but saying so makes me sound like one of those ultra right wingers crying at the horror of a black man being President for the last eight years.


#5

Each time I feel like I’ve reached some peace with the current level of sheer fuckery, I turn on the national news as a reality check.

I have yet to not shout at the television for nearly a year.

I take longer and longer breaks from televised news.


#6

Why do it at all? I read the NYTimes and various net stuff, but haven’t voluntarily watched TV news in decades. There’s very little upside, even if it’s accurate it’s badly done and incomplete. It’s like reading the local paper, most of the reportage is stenography of what politicians and other people said with no attempt to fact check or contextualize, and usually the facts are a mess.


#7

Yes, but I have a child that isn’t going to read news any time soon, and I’m trying to open his eyes to the fact that the world is composed of more than Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Editing to add that the 1/2 hour format of national news is just the right length for his current attention span. We’ll switch to News Hour when he’s a bit older.


#8

The other question is; is the world so much better connected compared to the last few generations, so that we are more able to be aware of the state of the world and the mess it may be in?

Perhaps that doesn’t really help deal with it per se, but it might help contextualize that the world isn’t getting worse, it has been this bad for a long time.

So, if we ARE more connected then surely we can share some positive ideas and fix a few things.
Paraphrasing: the more light in the room, the harder it is for someone to do something dark.


#9

Huh, that would be the last way I’d do it, my kids never watched the news. We talked about the country, the world and history around the dinner table. My son kicked ass in AP US & AP World History.


#10

Glad you brought this up. One other thing that helps me is that I haven’t relied on TV news to be informed on current events for at least 15 years. I worked in that industry, saw how the sausage was made, and knew it was mostly spiced sawdust spiked with anxiety-inducing hallucinogens.

Media diet can play a big part in staving off depression. What works for me in terms of general news is a mix of public radio news (NPR, BBC, CBC), the Grauniad and the NYT, The Economist, and quality long-form pieces (mainly The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the occasional good piece from Internet outlets like Buzzfeed). Quality podcasts when I’m on the move. All that combined with my academic background in history helps me get some perspective and develop productive responses to the constant flow of depressing news.

I also consume a lot of speciality and niche media for my work, but while some of it touches on politics there’s a heavy intellectual/academic buffer in place that’s somewhat soothing.

I would seriously suggest exposing him to age-appropriate history books and documentaries (travel is also enlightening, but not always affordable). It will give him access to the wider world in a less anxiety-forming manner than the daily news and will provide a good foundation for when he starts gaining an interest and stake in current events.

Reducing screen time in general is also important, as you’re probably already aware. If tech moguls and multi-millionaires are keeping their kids from getting high on their own supply, it’s a good idea to follow suit.

@Urbanacus’s suggestion regarding dinner table conversation is great, too, if you family’s schedule allows it. I don’t have kids of my own, but at least once a week I get together for a family dinner with a relative or friend with kids (mostly adolescents or teenagers) and enjoy some great conversations about history, politics, culture, the arts, etc.


#11

My quite liberal parents almost exclusively watch Fox News, a fact I was horrified by until I watched it with them; they prefer it not because of any conservative angle, but because it’s on an hour earlier than the other networks and, at least where they live, gives a quick non-partisan non-hyperbolic look at national and international events before covering local stuff & the weather, and they turn it off when sports coverage starts.


#12

Exactly why I would never show it to children. “If it bleeds it leads” isn’t the best worldview.


#13

I totally agree that limiting one’s exposure to if-it-bleeds-it-leads ‘journalism’ is a big part of staving off depression and malaise; ditto the overall screen time.


#14

I had a fair amount of success in the industry and took to it easily (producing live television is a lot of fun, and so is getting paid to write about current events every day). But one of the old-timers in the newsroom would occasionally come up to me and say “yes, you’re doing really well here, but remember that this is an evil business.” The first time he said it I brushed it off as hyperbole, but he was dead serious and I soon came to agree with him.


#15

This last election cycle didn’t appreciably change my level of depression because I had already been aware of what was happening for a very long time. Reagan ripping off the solar panels from the White House, kicking over foreign countries to improve his Gallup results, reversing government stances on education and incarceration and basically dragging the entire country into a 1950s-idolizing wet dream were shocking and eye-opening moments for me; perhaps similar to what you are undergoing now.

You’re not wrong. Our culture is becoming less capable of facing the biggest issues that threaten our species - economic inequality and pollution - while simultaneously becoming increasingly obsessed with hand-wringing over third-order effects (like increasing social inequality and health care costs) that can’t be resolved without facing the first-order causes. Our media feed our worst impulses and the populace knows that the government is untrustworthy and so responds to any call for regulatory action with distrust and hoarding.

Here’s what I can tell you, that might help - the otherwise intelligent people who’ve been counting on other people fixing their problems for them are finally starting to realize that they have to do it themselves instead of just complaining and reaching for another bong hit.

The effort to save the human race from itself will be won in the school board meetings in ten thousand small towns, not in the halls of congress. Run for local office, and raise your kids to care about their neighbors - and not just their ideologically pure neighbors who believe the same things you do, all their neighbors - and we can still pull this out.


#16

I know just the place to start


#17

You might find this piece by John Scalzi about the current atmosphere’s impact on his productivity interesting:


#18

I spent the last two years going through a very bad separation and divorce. Prior to that it was a handful of very rough years trying to work through the relationship issues and fix things.

Doesn’t even compare to how this past 9 months have been.

Those previous things I had a hand in. I was partly responsible. I could effect change and fixing it. But what I have witnessed this past year and these past 9 months specifically…I feel helpless.

Hence my continual posting of Alan. It’s all I have. That and some small conversations here and there with good people via social media or BBS (some of you on this thread) to remain me that the world is not all crappy people. There are some good ones left. Best I have to hold on and not drink more than I already do.

And ofc Alan helps. A lot.


#20

I think the current sociopolitical situation is creating a low level anxiety that basically impairs your ability to deal with other stresses effectively- like an auto immune disorder impairs your ability to fight illness.


#21

By design…