- Justin at j.concurring in dissent wrote the following post. Because the response of ethicalEsq‘s Editor were too long to fit into Justin’s Comment format, they’ve been provided below. Feel free to add your thoughts.
A friend of mine has recently been posting about some of the problems in his life (generally revolving around work and money). An anonymous visitor posted this comment:
You are depressing. And the more you allow yourself to feel the way you do, the more depressed and depressing you’ll be. Your misery is detracting any good thing that could come into your life right now. Your negative disposition and the resentment that you have for the very life you should be owning, is causing the right people and opportunities to turn away from you. You cannot expect any force in this universe to push you in the right direction if you are completely unappreciative of where you currently are. Living in New York City should afford you countless chances to walk down the streets and subway halls to see homeless men and women, with signs of humiliation begging strangers for the change in their pockets. Those are the people who, in my opinion, should be nothing less than miserable. You, you are at the bottom of the totem pole in a very difficult job sector. But unlike some other recent graduates, you at least have a freelance job. You have contacts, you have experience, you are somewhat in demand.
From my perspective, what is happening here are a few important life lessons. It seems that life is trying to teach you about the trials of being an adult, and simply what struggle is. Turn that into something positive if you can muster up enough energy to be creative and resourceful in a way that will eventually save your sanity. Let your struggle manifest itself into deeper knowledge and even wisdom, and allow it to make you stronger every day that you encounter those tribulations. Just don’t retreat in fear. Don’t turn away out of desperation or with feelings of self-pity. Let it stand you up even taller as you travel through this life, and give you that edge this city demands if you ever want to survive.
I have to generally disagree with this comment. First, being upset about your station in life is not necessarily a symptom of depression. Beyond this, even it were “depression,” minor depression can be healthy. From a psychological perspective, one of the hardest things to do is to initiate change in your life. Dissatisfaction with your lot in life is one of the best ways to initiate change.
Additionally, this poster claims that you should see the homeless people in NYC and take comfort in the fact that you aren’t one of them. Simply not being in the worst possible position doesn’t mean you should be happy with your life, or even accepting. It’s perfectly normal, and natural, to be upset at your position in life.
Sadly, this is even more of a commentary on blogging. Just because someone uses a public forum such as a blog to express opinions on their own life, doesn’t mean that they should be subjected to the anonymous criticism of others. My friend asked for the name, and the person simply said, trust me, you don’t know me. I don’t mind criticism here, and in fact I welcome it. Yet I find it hard to give credence to advice that comes under a shroud of anonymity. Even if the person uses an alias, generally these are people who also keep blogs and so I can understand the perspective they are coming from. Without some foundation from which to understand these views, I cannot see adopting or supporting these views.
I had a far different reaction to the quotation you set out in this post. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read it and hoping that your weblogger friend pays attention to the advice.
You may be right that “It’s perfectly normal, and natural, to be upset at your position in life,” but it is not at all healthy, wise or helpful. Being “upset” doesn’t help one’s situation, and complaining is not the opposite of accepting.
If a weblogger only wants positive feedback and sympathy, I suggest turning off the Comment function and paying someone to echo his or her sentiments. If a weblogger is going to subject his audience to complaints about his life, he should be ready to get advice he might not want to hear. It is not negative criticism to tell someone “you’re looking at this in a self-defeating way” or “here’s a perspective that might be more helpful.”
Maybe you know all this, and were just trying to get your audience to remind themselves.