Sunday, June 5, 2016
The Rise Of Happiness Bigotry
It only takes a passing glance at social media to realize just how badly the fake happiness virus has infected people here in the United States, and I suspect much of the Western world at large. If I were to judge the level of contendedness of most Americans by their online personas, I could safely say that most Americans are living in the adult equivalent of Disneyland. For instance, almost every single woman on OKCupid (a dating site I continue to waste my time on for some ungodly reason, probably because it's still free and I remember when it had a much more "fringe" clientele that has since been close to eradicated by the conformists dolts who now pollute it) claims to be nothing short of farting rainbows, and they demand no less of a sunshiney disposition from whomever they're hoping to attract on there. At the same time, almost every man's profile on there purports how "easy going" they are. Many of these people claim to be this way ALL THE TIME in their profiles, which has me furrowing my brow, scratching my head and often exclaiming "give me a fucking break..."
Facebook is even worse. It's so bad in fact, that much of the reason why I disabled my account was because I simply couldn't handle being lectured about my negativity and my propensity for complaining any more, often from people I knew only peripherally or barely knew at all. Any time I'd post about how I thought a movie sucked, or how my boss was pissing me off, some jerkoff couldn't resist chiming in about how I "needed to be more positive" or that I actually enjoyed being unhappy, and was making myself feel that way on purpose.
Positivity pep talks also came from people I knew well enough in real life to be even crankier and more miserable than myself, yet they felt like they needed to craft some kind of fake online persona where their lives were completely amazing. All the obnoxious memes they posted with pictures of kittens "hanging on", and various other slogans devoted to resilience and the importance of "never giving up" were completely disingenuous and I knew it. So did they. Yet somehow, they felt compelled to "call me out" on my negativity and literally ORDER me to be happy, as if it was a switch that I simply decided I was going to keep in the off position because I liked to annoy people or something.
Trust me, if happiness were a switch I could choose to turn on and off, I would have flipped that mofo on and left it "on" from the minute I was conscious enough to do so, but my life hasn't worked out that way. Moreover, when it comes to my relationship with my immediate family, I have legitimately been dealt a shitty hand. Shitty enough in fact, that I'm often amazed that I haven't ended up in a far worse place than I am now, given some of the dark emotional locales I've been forced to visit many times over the years. What some would call "low expectations" I call "extremely optimistic ones".
Simply put, I'm not wired for happiness, or should I say, the superficial "happiness" which has become a religion in this country. Of course, I enjoy and savor every moment of legitimate happiness I feel in my life, but I am also well aware that those moments are usually fleeting. That is ok with me though, because if there's one thing that can be downright dangerous to lie about, it's lying about how happy you are. If you are truly hurting inside and you do NOTHING to try and deal with that pain, the end result could be much more harmful and hurtful than it if you had acknowledged the problem early on and tried to do something to cope with it.
I'm starting to think that Americans are suffering from a real, deep seated, collective denial and even a bit of Stockholm Syndrome related to the fact that The American Dream, as it's been sold to us, is pretty much kaput. Americans are officially in the "denial" stage of this reality, and rather than confront the fact that, in many ways, we need to learn how to adjust to the economic and energy realities of the future, which will be much leaner than what we have today, they opt to essentially bury their heads in the sand and pretend they're full of joy and everything's fine. Much like how fracking is a desperate attempt to continue down the course of infinite growth and happy motoring, which seems to be reaching its zenith as we speak, the "happiness industry" is a desperate attempt to try and convince us all that "everything's going to be ok" when clearly it isn't.
The hysteria surrounding the upcoming presidential election is all the proof I need to validate this theory.
Over the years I've been given massive amounts of happiness haranguing from condescending, arm chair psychiatrists who thought they knew me better than I knew myself. Their "advice" usually consisted of reprimanding me for "spending too much time thinking about things I have no control over" and "wasting too much time worrying about what other people are doing" (again, if it were a switch, I'd be flippin' it kids...) Many times, these people made me feel REALLY guilty for being unhappy, even if they were only vaguely aware of what was making me unhappy in the first place, and sometimes, completely unaware of my state of mind, and largely uninterested in it. They just demanded that I behave the way they ordered me to behave. Welcome to my personal hell of "you be much happier and more successful at ______ if you only played by the rules/ did better in school/ ignored your basic instincts/ shut up and did what we told you to do".
Given a LOT of personal reflection, I'm starting to actually think that I might have done some of these Happiness Bigots a great service by reminding them that not everybody buys into this disgusting lie that has swindled the American public into thinking they can paleo, rock climb, yoga, feng shui or speed date their way to a brighter future (aka "spend their time and money on fruitless endeavors that will be largely unrewarding in the end"). Happiness Bigotry may very well be one of the shrewdest marketing campaigns ever engineered, as it tugs at our very heart strings, and coerces, guilt trips and ultimately BULLIES us into behaving the way the rank and file demand that we behave. After all, this phenomenon was created here in America, where virtually everything in the media is essentially a cleverly marketed consumer swindle. Perhaps I am, in essence, still a very virulent, rebellious, anti corporate rebel for denying the ultimate pyramid scheme of fake contentment.
Because, let's think about it, if Americans are so obsessed with happiness, then why are we so shitty at ACTUALLY ACHIEVING IT? Talkers talk and doers do. Today's happiness merchants are much like the mirror image of the Gnostics of the Dark Ages. While the Gnostics sought to find enlightenment in a rather Apocalyptic environment by rejecting most of the spiritual mores of orthodox Christianity, today's Happiness Bigots seek to find enlightenment by rejecting their own, very basic emotions. Their quest is similarly Quixotic, and ultimately futile.
No one is happy ALL the time, and we wouldn't be programmed with the wide swathe of emotions that we have if they weren't all, in one way or another useful for something. The nervous guy in your group may alert you to dangers you didn't immediately recognize. The angry girl in your group may have given you all the gumption to hit the picket line and ultimately get better wages. The sad, withdrawn kid may be trapped in his own personal hell, but he creates some beautiful artwork, that you ultimately enjoy and then praise him for. While your positive response doesn't cure him of his malaise, it gives him some warmth and some hope, enough to continue on to his next creation. THAT is real happiness.
1) For the purpose of getting more views on this article, I almost titled it "The Rise Of Happiness Fascism", but the use of the term "bigotry" in my title is NOT to be confused with the word "fascism", which is defined as "a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism". "Fascist" and "fascism" often get thrown around by leftist nudnicks who don't feel like utilizing a thesaurus to make the correct, relevant point. And to be fair, I have seen plenty of right wing idiots use the "F" word to incorrectly defame zealous leftists as well. What both sides mean to say when they use the term fascist, is essentially how I'm using the term "bigot", which is defined as "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion" and in the case of the current wave of people who "choose happiness" the term "bigot" is entirely appropriate.
2) "Happiness fascism" is mentioned in this article here, and although I dislike the incorrect use of the word, the author does make some good points. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/10/un-international-day-of-happiness-makes-me-miserable
3) Two books that deal with this subject quite eloquently are "Fuck Feelings" by Michael Bennett and Sarah Bennett and "The Upside Of Your Dark Side" by Todd Kashsand and Robert Biswas- Diener