Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Depressing Blog?

As stated, the main purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts. A very small number of people read it, each with varying regularity, and I put in a secondary effort to meet their needs, if known, though there are limits to my flexibility in this regard. If I were writing purely to entertain others or, say, to amuse myself by inventing a persona that isn't me at all, I probably wouldn't bother keeping it up. I don't get much feedback on the overall tone of the blog, but a couple of offline comments have come up recently that I thought I might as well address.

One of my readers would rather see posts that project optimism about the future. That reader usually agrees with me, but gets a little rattled by interpreting my tone as relentlessly downbeat. In fact I don't think I'm particularly negative, and this is merely my personality expressing itself, and that includes a certain obsessiveness with honesty and facing reality as it presents itself. In my view we are barraged with misinformation throughout our lives, and I am the kind of person who likes to know all of the bad news up front so that I can address it. Some people would rather adopt a strategy in which they avert their attention when something unpleasant is about to occur and instead think happy thoughts, but apparently I am more the hardcore realist. My kind of realism is neither negative nor positive and simply seeks the truth or an approximation of the truth, which is usually the best we can hope for. The difference between me and more idealistic people is that they feel relieved when they have a good feeling and I feel relieved when I think I know all of the pertinent information, even when it has negative implications. My preferred strategy is to know what's going on now so that I don't have any unpleasant surprises later. In my experience, Pollyannaish people are not really happier in the long run, because their delusional thinking is likely to catch up with them sooner or later unless they somehow manage to live from cradle to grave in a protective bubble, which certainly is possible, but in my case if there ever was a protective bubble it broke long ago.

Another reader who knows me fairly well said recently that if psychiatrists read my blog they would recommend that I be put on a suicide watch. Here again is the impression that I am extremely downward-looking, as if the world were coming to an end - my world anyway - and I might as well just die. This reader knows that that would be an inaccurate assessment of me, since I don't fit the profile of a depressive person at all, though by the same token I'm never going to win an award for being upbeat or happy-go-lucky. All I'm really doing is trying to see things as they are and contemplate how to navigate life as best as possible without being sidetracked by the roaring background noise that everyone faces.

There is another aspect to my personality that hasn't specifically been mentioned, and I'll discuss that a little too. My orientation to the world is rational, especially when it comes to my writing. This can make me seem cold and emotionless to highly empathetic people. I am usually looking at the reasons behind things, whereas they tend to be more emotional and are attuned to the well-being of others. An example of this occurred early in my career. One of my co-workers who was only in his late 30's died suddenly of a heart attack. I had liked him and was sorry that he had died, but was not particularly shocked, as he was morbidly obese, drank a lot, smoked, got no exercise and had a fat girlfriend on top of it all. For someone like me, when certain behavior has a predictable outcome, I don't empathize as much as some people do. This extends to all areas, such as smoking cigarettes and then getting lung cancer. In this instance, another co-worker became quite put off by my muted reaction to the death, but I don't go in for theatrics just to suit other people's expectations. For the purposes of the blog I want to clarify that I am not a psychopath lacking empathy for others. Although I will react to the opinions you express, this is a place where I can be as rational as I like and never have to apologize when I don't comply with standards that are at variance with mine.

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