Excellent introspective piece on what it’s like dealing with mental health under the guise of an all-serving ideological state, ie college.
I remember scrolling through Facebook once, while hanging out with a friend who was a student at Yale Law, when suddenly my face fell and she asked “What’s wrong?” Well, another friend of mine had lost his job, and I was worried about him.
My Yale friend was very impressed and made a big deal about how compassionate I was.
And that struck me as weird. Surely anyone would be sad about a friend who lost his job. A good friend would try to help him get back on his feet, or do some other concrete act of service.
But there are actually a lot of Ivy League types for whom common sympathy is unusual, to whom it doesn’t occur to pause for a moment and be sad for someone else. We’re taught not to. We’re taught that other people’s troubles are not our problem, unless we can get public credit for some kind of conspicuous charitable work. The right thing to do is to keep reaching for the brass ring and to resist the temptations of sympathy.
Sad friend? There are professionals to handle that.
A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.
There is something extremely weird in affluent society that treats the personal problems of your closest ones as something that needs professional attention, and not the traditional responsibility of the community that cares for them. In some contexts its certainly better (professionals have drugs and use them methodically if not wisely), but it’s definitely weird.