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Monday, February 26, 2007

Why society sucks?

Stave It Off Science Officer Alex Tokar posits this theory (I supply the attempted poetic paraphrase and final commentary) :

Anxiety and depression serve evolutionary purposes.
Studies on modern day primates confirm this fact.
Tribes function better when anxious members warn of danger...
and when depression keeps us on the couch
where we conserve our energy and wait
for conditions to get better.

We're better off with a healthy dose of worry and blue.
But the patriarchy, or Freud, or Pfizer, or somebody
gave everyone diagnoses and medications instead.
We don't have visionaries, so much as schizophrenics.
Now our coalmines have no canaries.
And surely the gas levels are poisonous.

Would more collective worry and depression help guide us
away from preemptive wars and welfare cuts?
Maybe they would, maybe we've traded our conscience for convenience.
But I'm not sure anyone ever listened to voices of dissent
except for those who were predisposed.
And I couldn't condemn someone to suffer for our greater good.



At 3/01/2007 01:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They do serve evolutionary purposes. But what do human beings have to do with evolution in this day and age? Why would our species evolve any further? What is pushing us forward, other than the anxiety and depression that tell us we're not good enough? What evolutionary goal are we still seeking that is brought closer by feeling anxious or depressed? Aren't we done rising to the top of the food chain? Aren't we the consumption champions of the world? Are we going to end up with four arms because a natural disaster requires us to double our limbs in order to survive? Will there be a species war because antelopes learn how to operate motor vehicles and make a move to re-claim their turf?

What predators are we still overcoming? We hunt elephants and blue whales for fun. We dissect great white sharks and stuff kodiak bears for museums. Viruses seem to be the only predators left that can threaten us. Will we eventually need longer necks or gills for breathing underwater? What geographical regions are we still attempting to settle that we cannot at this moment completely urbanize, not counting volcanoes and icebergs? We are expanding into thin air, building upward because our lateral expansion is growing congested. These new hights may require some kind of evolved air sacs in our lungs, but we won't be moving into high-rises to escape the killer frogs on the ground, we'll be moving because we want to, because we can, because we're bored.

A little of any emotion can be useful. They're quite human and nothing to be ashamed of. It's when the depression magnifies into suicidal quicksand that it changes from useful to dangerous. That extreme is what diagnoses and prescriptions are trying to overcome. As for collective worry, I ran into an example today in a used car lot: cars are neither built nor sold based on how cool they look or what colors are available. They are sold based on crash-test ratings, and designed to appease the collective worry.

We are pushing for immortality. We seek to overcome natural selection and eliminate disease, testing our biology with new medications all the time. Notice the recent removal of trans-fats from many supermarket products and restaurant chains altogether - it no longer matters that it can enhance a food's flavor or make it easier to chew/swallow.

Long-term, debilitating depression sucks. It's not a waiting period, it's a shut-down of the internal spark. It shouldn't ever occur or have to occur. I would gladly trade my visionary attributes and artistic whatever to avoid psychotic anxiety and suicidal depression forever. This does not mean I choose the matrix. It means, in conclusion, that I do not believe widespread, unabated anxiety and depression are going to eradicate the common cold or elevate our genetics to a more dynamic or somehow advanced level.


p.s. no offense, Alex. thanks for breaking up this boring Thursday. maybe if we evolved into firebreathing creatures we wouldn't get mired down in all this freaking ice and snow...

At 3/04/2007 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

I'm with Soapy on this one.
Depression sucks, and it's only good use is in the Darwinian sense, that those with poor brain chemistry "off" themselves early before they can pass on the gene(this coming from a Depressive person, so you shove any pieties about "insensitivity."). We may romantically (and naively)celebrate depressive authors for their gifts, but we're never there when they're drinking themselves into a stupor--hey, let's celebrate alcoholism next--no, we're just griping about how long it's taking for the next book to come out.
No, depression is never anything to be cherished, but eradicated, and since it has everything to do with brain-chemistry, chemistry is a good answer, whether its pharmaceuticals, or a clean-living diet, or L.Ron Hubbard's vitaimin-cocktail.
Really, this opinion is only indicative that the person hasn't been to the bottom of the barrel.
I hope he never does.

At 3/05/2007 01:30:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Wow, thanks for the heartfelt responses. Clearly, 2 out of 2 people who have experienced clinical depression aren't in the mood to have their "gifts" recognized or cherished as beneficial to society. Can't blame you... which was the point of the final stanza.

Not that it would solve the problems of our society's various outliers, but I do wish that society held a bit more respect and appreciation for its diverse make up. People who find themselves on the fringes (in any measure) often suffer additionally because they are disvalued by the mainstream. And I think Alex is saying that's too bad.

At 3/06/2007 03:11:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

I was just thinking on this when it was announced that former Sen. Eagleton died. I remember the whole debacle when he was briefly McGovern's Veep candidate. Then it was disclosed that he had been diagnosed with depression (How did they find out? Was it Plumbers activities instigated by the uber-depressive Nixon?), and though McGovern infamously backed him "1000%" still dumped him from the ticket that would ultimately suffer one of the most lop-sided defeats in the history of this country. Even at the tender age of 19 I thought it was unfortunate and unfair.
But it's the way society--good, bad and indifferent--is. Folks (and who can really blame them?)just don't want to be burdened with other folks' problems--isn't that why we have social workers?;)
I always remember bitterly the old bromide "Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone." It was ever thus, and it just won't change.

Unless some sports-team owner announces he's depressed (and a lot of them SHOULD be!):D


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