Saturday, April 23, 2011

Uncle Bob's Sure Cure for Depression

Depressed?  Kill your television, for a start.

A staggering number of people living in America - the wealthiest country in the world - are depressed.  And while some of them might need serious medical attention and care, others are just mildly depressed all the time - unhappy with their lives and the way they are going.  And this is a shame, as we are so lucky in this country and should be fairly happy, considering how things are in the rest of the world.

And what causes this unhappiness?  Mostly, I think, it is caused by the poor normative cues provided by Television.

Television - I call it the Depression Box, as it makes people depressed.  And this is on purpose, too.  Advertisers want consumers to be depressed all the time, because depressed people make excellent consumers.

If you find that you hate your life, that you are depressed all the time, and that it seems like you are never getting ahead in life - or that it has no meaning -  well, I've got some suggestions for you. Because life is really great, once you disabuse yourself of the notion that "everyone else" knows what is going on and knows what's best for you - and that doing what the herd does will make you happy.

Depressed?  Try these simple steps.
1.  Kill your television - or televisions.  Chances are you have several.  I know I had like, three.  Cut the Cable and the cable bill and put that money in your 401(k) instead.  You will save money right off the bat.  But more importantly, you will stop watching all that drivel and thinking that (a) it is important and (b) it is "real life" - Because it is neither.  And the ads are programming your brain to be a passive, depressed consumer.  People who watch television are depressed, period.   And no, just getting rid of cable TeeVee and watching network shows isn't the answer.  Heck, we have a television - hooked up to a computer - but we certainly don't have an antenna attached to it.  We don't need or want all that depressing drivel and channel-surfing that just makes you feel bad and washed out.  If you want entertainment, rent (or better yet, download) a video from Netflix, or check them out for free from your library.  But TeeVee shows, news shows, and all those commercials?  They just cause depression. (UPDATE: Sadly, Netflix has turned into just another network!).

2.  Unplug From Electronics.  Give up texting, constant cell-phone chatting, Instant Messaging, Internet Addiction, Facebook (the Television of the Internet!) and all those obsessive-compulsive electronic gadgets.  They cost a lot of money and they don't make you happy, just detached and alienated from life.

3.  Stop Obsessing about Politics and Events.  You can't change the world by worrying about it.  If you want to change the world, vote - or donate money to a campaign.  But blathering on about Obama or the Republicans is just making you depressed, period.  Save your worries for more important things.

4.  Get Your Finances in Order.  One thing that depresses people a lot is being in perpetual debt, which is often a condition caused by spending more than they are making.  If you are worrying about your credit card balance all the time, you will be unhappy.

5.  Get off the Materialism Bandwagon.  If you are in debt because of junk you bought, then stop buying junk.  Shopping isn't "fun" nor does it make you really happy.  Living with less and living within your means is really fun, as you have control over your life.

6. Stop Caring What Other People Think Most people are idiots - look around you.  And yes, you will be mocked and ostracized for being "different".  But if "fitting in" means washing down anti-depressants with white wine, well pardon me if I opt out of that crap.

7.  Take the Global View.  If you have a problem in your life, make a mental exercise of trying to explain it to an orphan in the third world (Rent "About Schmidt" to see what I mean).   If you are complaining about being fat, think of how that complaint sounds to a person who hasn't had enough to eat today.  Or how your credit card debt problems sound to a displaced person in Somalia.  When you think about things this way, you realize that your "problems" are really, really trivial and moreover can be quite easily solved, compared to others.
These are just some of the things I try to do, and have done.  And they have made me very, very happy, too.  I have found that being debt-free and not beholden to others is far better than all the new cars in the world.  That not being "plugged in" to 24 hours news channels or electronic gizmos allows me to think about life and really experience it.

And it makes me realize that most folks out there really aren't experiencing real life, but an ersatz version sold to them through a coaxial cable or a satellite dish.

Life outside of the daily pressures of our "Society" - as defined by and often enforced by, the television - is really a helluva ball.  And once you are freed from that form of slavery (debt slavery) you can start to really live your life on your own terms - or at least the remaining portion of your life.

It's just a suggestion.  But if you are depressed all the time and nothing seems to cheer you up, then try changing your life.  And a good first start is to turn off the television and get off the couch.  And to make sure you never go back, by selling off the boob tube and cutting the evil cable cabal.