Misery Sweepstakes*

I’ve been reading some of the responses to the article quoted in the preceding post and I can conclude that it really offends people when somebody suggests they are not completely miserable. It’s like a mortal offense to point out anything good about their lives.

In my culture, it’s the opposite. People will go to great lengths describing how great they are doing even when their lives are for shit.

I dislike both approaches because they are insincere and emotionally taxing.  I’m a drama queen and I love to engage in a regular bout of complaining about the imperfections of the universe. I don’t, however, have the mental fortitude to participate in the misery sweepstakes that some of my colleagues enjoy so much. At the same time, if I’m lying bleeding on the sidewalk, I prefer to be able to scream for help rather than convince everybody that I’m simply practicing a new method of irrigation that will make me a millionaire like my compatriots would do.

* If I’m not mistaken, I learned this beautiful term at the Stupid Motivational Tricks blog.

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5 comments on “Misery Sweepstakes*

  1. “In my culture, it’s the opposite. People will go to great lengths describing how great they are doing even when their lives are for shit”

    Which culture are you referring to?

      • Wow, that’s so different from the neighboring cultures I’m familiar with (mainly Poland and Hungary).

        T/here, a genial “How’s it goin?” is more liable to be met with “Eh, I have this pain in my lower back…”, “Bad, and it’s just gonna get worse.” “It’s not worth talking about” or some other chipper response. The Russians I’ve known in Poland tend to have assimilated to the local no-good-news-must-be-spread approach as well. Interesting that they’re more cheerful at home…

        Appearances matter of course but if anything the emphasis is more on not showing if you are happy/contented (so as not to arouse jealousy and/or resentment). The idea that people are never as sincere as when showing aggression does seem pretty familiar though.

  2. I can conclude that it really offends people when somebody suggests they are not completely miserable. It’s like a mortal offense to point out anything good about their lives.

    At least from an academic’s perspective, it’s not so much a matter of being offended. It’s more the knowledge that if people believe that you have a good work environment, their next move will be to become furious and demand that someone do something to make it worse.

    It’s an especially sore point for academics in the U.S. because this country is filled with people who “know” that professors don’t do any work.

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