There’s a special streaming on Netflix that has been getting a lot of praise and recommendations to watch it. I finally watched it over the weekend, and I didn’t like it at all.
I spent some time last night and today writing a post explaining exactly why I didn’t like it, and the more I thought about it, the more I hated it. Still, I detailed my criticisms in a way that I think was fair, somewhat insightful, and always tried to meet the material at its own level. And I took care to explain why my dislike of it was relevant outside of just a TV show.
Then I just deleted the whole thing and wrote this post instead. Because honestly, why waste so much time chewing on something I don’t like? If other people like it, then it did its job, no matter what I think.
While I’m waiting for my medal to arrive, I did want to include a briefer take on the more relevant issue: what to do when someone you love (or yourself) is struggling with anxiety and depression.
There’s a really toxic idea that’s been going around for several years, repeated and embellished with each repetition to the point that whatever original good intention has been lost. It says that if someone is having a depressive episode, we should treat them as if we would a cartoon sleepwalker: never interfere! It says that our role is just to listen, never to offer help, or compare their experiences to our own.
I think it’s bullshit, and I hate it. Of course there are ways to take it too far, to make it too much about yourself, to come across as too judgmental, or to inadvertently minimize or trivialize what they’re going through. But the alternative isn’t just to do nothing. Someone who wants you just to listen to their misery without comment doesn’t want a friend or a partner, they just want a witness. No matter what narcissistic simpletons on social media might suggest. Besides, we’ve got enough to deal with, having to remember the fifteen billion rules suggested by self-proclaimed “introverts” detailing how they expect to be treated.
We need more genuine connections to each other, not fewer.