Friday, October 10, 2008

Why the hell are you so sad?

With one in every 10 women on anti-depressants, and 30 million Americans swallowing the pills with their Cheerios the question that begs to be asked is why are Americans so depressed? We live in the richest nation in the world. We have to do very little to get what we want in terms of food, entertainment and relationships. Most of us can live to be 100 if we don’t smoke. We can all read. We won’t be wiped out by a plague from above.

If life is so great in the 21st century, why is everyone so sad? Most of my answers will be women-centered because that is my gender bias. But guys, keep reading. You’re popping pills too.

1. The 24-hour news cycle
Everyone likes a good horror film. We like the suspense, the adrenaline of fear. However that fear is unhealthy when it is brought in to your homes, and sometimes in your cars, on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Fox News especially, and CNN and MSNBC constantly instills fear in to the hearts of its viewers every day, several hours a day. Watch at a given moment and you will think that (insert scary cable network digitized theme music) that a Scott Peterson like fundamentalist Muslim is going to attack your pregnant friend with cancer after she eats a hamburger with Mad Cow disease.
Even the FoxNews web site makes me anxious. Here are some of the headlines:
Dangerous Obsession: Researchers brand phenomenon of tanning addiction as ‘tanorexia’
Cabbies in Crisis: Soaring gasoline prices are hurting big city taxi drivers
Now tanning is bad for you and the rise in gas prices is terrible, but tanorexia, crisis?
I’m scared are you?
2. Commuting to Work
My commute last year was 55 minutes in the morning and 115 minutes in the evening. I risked my life every day, no joke - I live in Chicago, to get to work. Take the train. I can’t. I would if I could. God bless NPR. But during the pledge drive the road rage ensues and my blood pressure rises.
"Solo commuting really grinds people down," said Darrel Drobnich, Director of Government and Transportation Affairs for the National Sleep Foundation. "People are working longer hours, experiencing greater stress in the workplace and at home, and sleeping less. When they hit the road they’re encountering more and more traffic. All of these factors plus too much time alone behind the wheel can spell trouble."
Most solo drivers say they can deal with their commutes. But Drobnich and other authorities from the transportation and psychology fields say people who drive alone usually don’t realize the effect their commutes have on them, a fact which makes them more susceptible to a wide range of hazards. (
3. porn
Porn is great. It’s terrific. But like, it’s also a problem. A big problem. As young boys view porn at a younger and younger age their view of women is skewed based upon the non average woman and the fake sexual experience. Their ability to be intimate with a real person is stunted. What? Her stomach isn’t perfectly flat? What? Her legs aren’t 9 feet long? What she’s not screaming in Ecstasy every time I touch her? Men are disappointed and women are frustrated because they can never live up to the other sex’s expectation.
This can make us a very lonely society.
4. nothing’s fun anymore
alcohol= liver failure, smoking = lung cancer, sex = std, walking alone = rape, meat = heart attack and mad cow, McDonald’s=obesity and diabetes.
5. Pressure
There is so much pressure to be perfect. Skin too pale? Tan. Teeth not like pearls? Whiten them. Have a wrinkle? Have surgery to remove it. Bald? Grow back your hair. Have thighs? Suck the fat out. Boobs to small? Make them bigger. Boobs to big? Make them smaller. Going to college? Better go to a good one. ACTs too low? Take a class for $5000.
We have so much pressure to be perfect that we don’t have time to stop and just, sorry to be cheesy, love each other. To send their kids to that perfect college, both parents work and work and work and don’t get to see their children grow up. But without the love of parents, how can any child really succeed in life? That’s sad.
6. And even more pressure for women
Need to be thin. Need to get married. Need to be smart. Need to be charming. Need to cook. Need to have kids. Need to raise kids well. Need to have a great job. Need to make money. Need clothes. Need makeup. Need surgery. Need 401K. Need health insurance.
Ok, I’ve made my point. So…
Life up your bottles of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Welbutrin, and Effexor and let’s cheer to the post-modern world which is making us all crazy.
Let me know what you think is making everyone so sad.


Rachel Karp said...

If you remember, I wrote a story that was in the Prints sophomore year (I think - might have been junior year) about living better through chemistry.

I actually have been weaning myself off zoloft (with the help of a physician), which I have been taking since I was 14. Exercise helps alot, but it's a difficult process, and my loved ones definitely get the brunt of it.

Jamie said...

A life that is productive, moving in a meaningful direction, connected to others (people, plants, animals, landscape) in our communities help us to feel that we have what to give and what to receive in life. Poverty, social isolation, and lack of meaningful work and connections aren't helping anyone. By the way, there is a fantastic organization called The Center for the New American Dream ( that bears the motto, "More Fun, Less Stuff". This is a great time of year to check it out, since we're heading toward Buy Yourself Love and Happiness at the Mall Season.

Eric Marcus said...

Ditching cable and most TV helps!