Pavlov would love the Internet.

Cranky Cuss

Cranky Cuss
Ossining, New York, United States
February 28
I am the author of "Send In the Clown Car: The Road to the White House 2012," currently available on Amazon and CreateSpace. I'm currently semi-retired after 23 years in a corporate environment. My motto: The conventional wisdom has too much convention, not enough wisdom. Corollary: Even Einstein was wrong sometimes, and you're not Einstein.


MAY 11, 2012 10:00AM

I'm Not Depressed. The World Just Sucks.

Rate: 53 Flag


I’ve lost my sense of humor.  When not even Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert can make me laugh consistently, I’ve got a problem.  I’m not depressed.  The world just sucks.


Much of my unhappiness is entirely personal: nagging health issues that make me realize that the concept of the golden years is a crock; the sad realization that a couple of people I considered friends are not; the stress-filled atmosphere at my wife’s job which has her returning home many nights looking like a beaten dog.  A lot of it, however, is too much contact with a culture that feels increasingly vapid and rude, especially the toxicity of public discourse. 


I can’t surf the Internet, whether it’s the blogosphere, news sites or even my goddam email inbox, without feeling like I’m under assault. The Net gives everyone a forum and everyone takes advantage of it by airing their outrage about everything, whether major or trivial, and they expect me to share it. Either it’s something Barack Obama did or didn’t do, or something Mitt Romney did or didn’t say, or else it’s some offensive thing some Republican hack or some unpaid blogger wrote, or else it’s some very important issue that’s being overlooked or some issue that’s getting way too much attention, or it’s some politically incorrect ad nobody’s seen for some product nobody wants, or it’s who got eliminated last night on American Idol or .. God, enough already.  There are six billion people in the world and there will always be someone doing something unpleasant.  I just don’t have that much outrage in me and often I’m only outraged by how easily people are outraged.  I’m suffering from outrage overload.


I’m tired of reading screeds by people who are so cocksure that their opinion is right that you must be a fucking moron to … wait a second, let me change to language they’ll understand … YOU MUST BE A FUCKING MORON TO DISAGREE.  I have strong opinions about many things, but I’m not cocksure about shit. I am always aware that I’m a flawed human being evaluating flawed human beings by using flawed knowledge to build flawed analyses, and frankly anyone who doesn’t feel that way frightens me.  Too few essays I read today indicate a writer wrestling with his or her thoughts.  Well, I wrestle with my thoughts all the time.


The atmosphere has gotten so vitriolic that if either Obama or Romney discovered the cure for cancer, there are people who would be angered by it. We’ve gotten so antagonistic that now we’re arguing about dumbass shit that Romney did as a teenager – because we know that teenagers doing dumbass shit is so rare – and we’re arguing over what Obama ate as a child in Indonesia.  What next, which candidate as a baby peed on his mother when she was changing his diaper?  Election Day isn’t until November, so we have six more months of this bullshit and it’s going to get worse.


Political discussion inevitably brings out the worst in people.  We may tolerate widely varying opinions and tastes in any other venue – “You love punk rock, I love Baroque composers, but we’re still BFFs!” – but air the smallest disagreement on Obamacare and we’re reaching for the knives.  Yeah, I know outrage and overreaction have been par for the course ever since God got pissed off at mankind and instructed Noah to build an ark, but only in recent years has the 24/7 cable-Internet combination turned our rancor into a nuclear cloud that constantly chokes our lungs.


The anonymity of the Web allows people to infect even innocuous forums with their abuse. Recently I read an online article about Will Smith and wondered, “How many comments will I have to read before I encounter one that’s blatantly racist?” The answer: two. 


We feel a need to make every difference sound apocalyptic and we reward the commentators that are the loudest and most outlandish, like Rush Limbaugh. Really, Bill O’Reilly is the “Worst Person in the World” while Charles Manson and the butchers in Darfur are still drawing breath? We have a “war” on religion and a “war” on women; I wonder what the PTSD-affected soldiers returning from the Middle East, or the parents of soldiers who never returned, think about us comparing our political disagreements to mortal combat.


The tipping point for me happened when I watched MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, so angry about George Zimmerman’s lawyer leaving the studio before a scheduled interview that he yelled questions at an empty chair.  I know O’Donnell expected me to share his outrage but all I thought was: Please, somebody slap me silly if I ever act like that big a fool.


I am 61 years old.  I don’t know how much time I have left on this planet.  25 years, hopefully.  25 days or even 25 hours, possibly. I don’t want to spend that time with bile in my throat and anger in my heart, so I’ve been spending much less time online and I’ve stopped participating in any discussion that has the potential to grow caustic. I’d like to believe that I can hold an opinion without thinking that someone who disagrees is a moral midget.  I’d like to believe that I can feel disdain for the political views of candidates like Mitt Romney without feeling the need to trash him and his family as human beings.  I’d like to believe that I can have critical thoughts about public figures who do stupid things without feeling that they are evil personified. That probably makes me a fucking moron.


Stop the world. I want to get off. 



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Righteous and important rant. You cannot imagine how many times I've wanted the world to stop so I could get off. At least for a little while. ~r
Most rants aren't writing, but this one was. Big e-hug, ya big lug!
I just cannot have rational thoughts some days, so I try not to watch cable news unless the sky is falling which according to them is every single day.
I am sure we are not the only ones that feels this way, but sometimes after listening to Steve's mother I feel I live on the island alone. Well I have you.:)

man....i couldnt have said it better!....right-the fuck-ON!....maybe the best post i've ever read...blow off this political BULLSHIT....relax and enjoy....
oh yeah....RATED...guess im sposed to tell ya when i do that...
I feel the same way. Thanks for expressing it so well. Hang in there. I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "We must all hang together or hang separately." Of course, he was talking about actual hanging...!
So well written and so right on. I am so nostalgic for that cokcsuredness that came with lack of wisdom.
Having strong opinions about ambigious subjects is not a sign of some moral rectitude. Realizing you know nothing about nothing is the most honest response but honest responses are few and far between in our hysteric culture.
Great and cleansing post, Cranks. Also, what Con Chapman said!
I hear you Crank it's a fucked up world for sure. Myself I bought a home in the Caymans and I think I'm the most at ease out on my boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea just sitting where it's quiet and peaceful. I also love going out in the woods on my farm alone and sitting and not contemplating anything. The only drawback for both is you have to come back to reality and the bullshit eventually. Well said my friend, my best to you........o/e
Bob Dylan wrote in a song one time I don't know the exact words but he said for just one I wish you could be in my shoes and you would see what a drag it is to see you.
Wouldn't it be nice if good news is what sold newspapers?
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

Sometimes, you just have to step back and see the black humor. Also, realize that the world has never been better or worse, depending on your basis of comparison. Remember Black Plague, high infant mortality, genocidal wars, concentration camps, slavery, lynchings, the intifada, the Inquisition, witchhunts, etc.? They all happen somewhere still but not here usually and not as much usually. I try to be grateful for the good things, too. Maybe you are depressed.
I sometimes feel this way, Richard. Mostly, I am somewhat more hopeful. I am glad we're friends.

I'd rate this 100 times, if I could. I stopped watching network news eons ago, lest I pine away for the misery of situations I didn't create, don't agree with and could do nothing about - except of course, pay for.

Now, it seems there is no escaping the deluge of vitriol that engulfs me where ever I go. You just can't argue with stupid. The life of a hermit is sounding more appealing each day.
You must be reading my mind. Hello! I just keep telling myself repeatedly, this is just a temporary period of transcendence... .
No one should be totally sure that they are an expert on everything. We have such serious problems that the only way we can solve them is to come together in compromise. That is not happening and is only delaying the inevitable.
Agreed. Thank you.

I know several people who got off the world in their own ways. Moved away from large populations, aren't on any social networking sites, cancelled cable t.v. because it's crap anyway, dont do e-mail and rarely check voicemails. Those kind of people annoyed me in the past, but with instant access and people who think that they need to reach you any moment of any day... I do things now as well to make myself just a little less within arms length. God forbid they have to wait a day or two for a return phone call. :-)
I hear ya!

This is why I don't really follow politics or much else that seems controversial.

I'm no doctor, but what I'd suggest is to head over to and have a laugh about silly celebrity culture (the writing itself is just hilarious). Any comments that might be upsetting are hidden; you have to click to read them. It's my favorite way of de-stressing. Or watching "The Soup" (same concept).

I hope this rant helped you get a lot off your chest, and I hope you'll be feeling better soon.
I am so much right where you are - I've not written anything since March. I want to, but I can't seem to generate enough enthusiasm about anything to do it. Nothing I say will matter, and I am tired. Just tired of all of it. What goes on in the world is still important, but it's all been bought and paid for, and not by me or by anyone who thinks like me. Blech.
airing their outrage about everything, whether major or trivial, and they expect me to share it ummm ... huh? Pot/kettle? But sometimes you just need to do that, right? And that's the beauty of the internet.

Maybe you should spend some of your online time here:

or here:

(You can learn to filter the ads pretty quickly & I recommend it.)

And, yeah, O'Donnell was especially douchey that time.
All writing is a writer wrestling with his thoughts in one form or another. Knowing that is how you keep your sanity: it's not about you.
I so appreciated this commentary of yours. Agree with you in so many ways. I am so sick of people on both sides of the ideology spectrum feeling they cannot make a point without beating someone senseless with insults and/or profanity.

We all want to get off of this planet at times. Stay on. Your reason and moderation are needed.
Sounds trite but shut all the electrics down and go out and take a walk. Make sure it's a place where you can't hear traffic or anything like "busy"'ll get it back, honest.
Some days I really wish it was all over.
I don't often credit my mother for teaching me good ideas to live by, but "consider the source" is one I have kept. There is always a reason a person is hateful, deceitful, judgmental, and surly, and it generally has absolutely nothing to do with me (or your, Crankster). I don't give a rat's ass what most people have to say, either to me or about me. But I do care whether you are happy or down in the mouth, so how about going outside and taking a nice long walk around the neighborhood? It sure did me a world of good this morning.

I think the perceived anonymity of the internet has made everyone much more opinionated and loud - I share your feelings Cranky
Silence = Golden. But, I'm glad you spoke up.
Cranky. " Mama said there would be days like this....
Mama said..." I think that a lot of people are tired of politics and depressed about the future. Few of us, if any, know the truth about most things. There is no transparency anymore and so alled truths are often convenient lies.Perhaps the anger we hear from others is due to their own frustration. Better to yell here, on OS.. than at work or at home. We can simply tune out. My personal experience with OS, is that the more vulnerable I show myself to be...the more I allow others to do the same in their comments.

The older we get the more people we care about. When I was a young woman, I was cared for. Now I am the Alpha female...aka: the old lady. Can't pick up the phone and call my Mom. I hope your life gets sweeter soon. I agree with Con and the others.
Cranky, you need Monty Python and George Carlin to help you through your Long Dark Night of the (outrage overloaded) Soul. Long walks in the woods will help as well. I'm ten years your junior and there are times when I feel exactly as you have expressed here.

Angry? Am I angry? You bet your ass I am. But anger doesn't have to be what controls you, or even drives you. I am a fan of taking the time necessary to get as many "flawed facts from flawed people" in order to make the best flawed analyses I can. Truth be told, though, I am a perennially cynical optimist.

In short, I see (the true use of the word "cynic" is to make no inferences beyond what you can personally experience -- while not a great tool for inductive or deductive logic, it helps you to see what you're seeing as what it is) the world, I see the people in it and I see how often we, even some very well educated and smart people, do incredibly stupid things on a daily basis -- AND WE SURVIVE!

So my cynicism leads me to infer that, no matter how stupid we act in whatever moment we're caught in, our liklihood of survival is better than not on balance. And that makes me optimistic. I know I'm pretty smart, but I also know most of what I know and how I feel about it is mere illusory window dressing -- a psychological backdrop upon which I get to play out my ideas and ideals with the false assurance everything's going to be okay.

Even so, you made it to 61 and I am approaching 52. I'm not talking about having lived a life, for I still breathe. I'm talking about over half a century of survival against all odds. That's something you can feel good about, even if the Golden Years are only 18 Karat electroplate over pewter.

Hang in there man.

Read and appreciated. Online reading and commenting sometimes feels to me a lot like driving in rush hour--participants sometimes behave as if they are anonymous and become inconsiderate or worse. It's an aggravation--good idea to get off the highway for awhile and look at something new.
Hey Cuss, like you I have a hard time laughing out loud, but when I surf into them I do like listening to Stewart and Colbert... I'm 63, I live alone on a mountain and my social life is mostly online here at OS. A couple of weeks ago, I screwed up in an email string and posted about it here:

O'Donnell and Big Ed make me as crazy as O’Reilly and Limbaugh, but I do like Rachel Maddow she's got enough style and humor so that I find myself with the occasional grin... my only point of disagreement with this post is comparatively speaking today's world "sucks" a whole lot less than the world we grew up in when my life's ambition was to be naked, stoned and screwing my brains out at ground zero when they dropped "the big one."

Now I'll be happy for another fifteen years so I can see how my grandson grows to be a young man. True the world "sucks" but it "sucks" in different ways... as Mel Brooks so poetically sang in The Twelve Chairs, "Hope for the best, expect the worst!"

And there's no way in hell you could be " a fucking moron."
A few months back I was complimented by a co-worker who admired my ability to keep my opinions to myself. Of course, this was coming from a person with absolutely no filter on her own opinions about everything (and with volume)! As a former Yankee liberal living in Cajunland I have found this ability to be essential to my everyday survival.
My wife has a much more stressful job in general than I do, and if I can hold my own stresses to a minimum, I can be more 'there' for her. Based on what you said about Dee's current work situation, Breaux, this is a concept with which I am sure you are familiar.

Anyway, you know you need to stick around long enough to become a burden to your kids! That's the dream, isn't it? :-)
Oh. My. Gosh. Yes!

I try so hard never to read the comments at the bottom of any news article I read online--whenever I do, I'm depressed for the rest of the day.
Cranky, the world has always sucked. We're just able to access the suckiness 24/7 by virtue of the 24 hour news cycle and the internet.

Now you can tell me I'm a fucking moron. If it makes you feel better.
You've certainly exprssed the feelings, not just your own, but of an untold multitude, including myself. For me, your third paragraph resonates most strongly.

I haven't lost my sense of humor, but my dominant mood most days is a mix of apathy and and a kind of dying embers low intensity outrage at all the trivia and stupidity we're immersed in.
I try to stay in the no-rant zone, but it's not easy these days. The far right keeps shelling our positions. It's hard not to respond in kind. What to do?
Richard, you have voiced my own thoughts much better than I could on this subject. I tried to voice my feelings awhile ago in my blog but didn't get close to the clearity you exhibit here. My answer to the problem....spend more time with my animals and less time on the Internet.
Well written, my friend, but then that is the norm in your blog....good writing and it's why I always stop by here to read.
I know this feeling which is why I wrote my post today Ranting about Mother's Day. I felt such a need to say it and then wondered what the hell is wrong with me.

When I feel like this, I turn to science. There are some amazing and wonderful things they are discovering.
There was a time after 9/11 when I had to unplug my TV and quit watching. I felt bad; like I was walking away from history and being disrespectful to all the people directly affected by it. But it had become toxic to me and I needed to get away from it. I do the same thing with comment threads on-line. Other than OS, I don't even look at them. I get almost all of my news from hand held newspapers, where I'm not tempted by comments and feel like the news is at least trying to be presented fairly. I haven't exactly gotten off the world, but I do try not to involve myself too much in the insanity of a lot of it. I understand where you're coming from. "Life's too short," starts making sense at a certain age. Do what you need to do to make it better for you.
Beautiful!! But you have one biggerer worserer problem now - well okay, two.

Me as a friend and a wife that is going to take the abuses of her day out on YOU because you called her a beaten dog!! LOL!!

My devine knowledge helps me to understand that God will not 'blow us up' again. We are gonna do it ourselves. As for your cure for cancer - it's already here and it comes in a way that those who are brainwashed do NOT want to hear... Cannabis. The rest of the world is doing wonders with it - Spain for instance - while the US sits and wonders how they are going top explain the actions of a dead president... Richard Nixon. He scraped the Shafer report and put us 40 years behind. Biodegradable plastics, diesel fuel, non-toxic medicine... what a DICK!!

Hang in there my brother - it's only gonna get worse. Peace!!
Great post. Great comments. The weariness we all feel is neither a character flaw nor an illness. There's just so little truth, beauty or dignity left in politics, journalism, religion or business. All you can do is breathe deeply, turn off TV and hope for better days ahead.
CC, can't blame ya for feeling the way you do. But I can share something that shook me out of the world-sux blues: volunteer.

Do something, anything, give your time--not a lot, just a little, a few hours a week--to something or someone who can really use it, and there's no shortage of people/agencies who can use your time and attention and hands.

For the past 6 mos I volunteered at our local battered women's/ children's shelter, and it's changed my life forever. Right now I'm between cycles (due to lack of $), and I miss it terribly.

The people--not just women but whole families too--have so changed my perspective on my own life at the same time I've offered them what little I could of my own scattered brain, and lo and behold, I've made a difference.

It was after that experience that I was finally able to realize that I've never been happier in my life than I am RIGHT NOW, even w/all its dysfunctions. How many of us can say that and mean it?

Volunteer for a little while and see if you don't come home and think, damn, my life is actually not so bad--and you'll have made a difference to SOMEbody...
I HEAR YA, CRANKY. OOPS! WAIT A MINUTE LET ME USE MY OS VOICE.......there, that's better. I hear ya, Cranky, but you can't change any of it so let it go. My wife canceled my NY Times subscription and I stopped following the stock market. I am a calmer man. R
Everybody said "the World Sucks" right before the Renaissance.

Boy, did they feel dumb afterwards.
Totally hear you, Cranky. And totally get it (forgive me for using "totally" twice). I am just grateful that you are writing about all this so eloquently. It makes me feel a little less alienated.
But, but, I just wrote you an email stating how much I love it when your eyes flair up and burn with desire!!!!

~weeps, runs off stage in tears~
I think that, as the world has gotten overpopulated and we're all meshed together anonymously in this forum called the "internet," we have tried to stand out and feel special, and--like toddlers who believe that "even negative attention is good attention"--we do it with zingers and other overreactive bullshit. More days than not, I'm reading comments and saying in my head, "CALM down!" And, dammit, half the time, I'm saying it to myself!
Constant and impersonal communication with one another is making us act like a$%holes. -r-
We're all there with you, Cranky. A lot of good suggestions here for coping with what we're all feeling. For me, the answer is (1) to disengage, and (2) find something to laugh about.
Hang in there.
This must be the third or fourth time in recent weeks that your dispiritedness has surfaced in your blog Cranky. Call in non-depression if you think that’s right, call it world-weariness if you think that’s apt, but it’s hard to tell the difference.

I found it discouraging when I first noticed that the majority of comments in other sites appeared to come from society’s misfits, cranks and deranged losers. And of course the anonymity of the net brings out the false bravado in any number of twerps. But that's what they are and my real life encounters don't persuade me that society's going to hell just as I approach my declining years. It’s tempting to say something like “So don’t let it get you down” but I suspect it’s not that simple.

The talk shows? Overheated rhetoric and manufactured indignation sell. Thoughtful, nuanced, civil discussions do not. There's more than a little WWE to it all.

Those thoughts you cite in your closing paragraph? You can have them and voice them and you won’t be alone. As for some others, remember the Dylan lines:

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in
2 words. shrill rancor. yep.
I personally blame the 1%
FWIW, I find the letters in the NYT to be literate, non-abusive, often humorous. Perhaps they monitor them ruthlessly. Anyway, hope you come out of your funk before too long. It's post-partem blues, perhaps?
Lezlie's right. Consider the source. Keeping your mood is going to depend on acceptance - some people are going to be rude idiots and once you accept that, you'll notice them and go on your way.
You must be a wonderful person because your thoughts mirror mine and that is pretty cool by me. Soon there will be no more mystery to a person.... just a long google record of been here and looked up thats....OMG!
Sorry I didn"t mean to reference me being cool but your cool has rubbed off on me making me feel cooler.
Thank you for expressing exactly my own feelings, much more thoroughly than I have been able to do. Something is seriously amiss when the real world seems safe, sane and normal, and the blogosphere and mass media are so bizarrely nasty in comparison. Was this how it was supposed to be? I need to go cold turkey with the laptop and spend more time riding my bike.
I turned off the TV several years ago. I read some things on OS, but I figure if things are really that important, I will eventually find out by a neighbor or something. Life is better without FOX, CNN and even commercials. But yes, if getting off the world for some much needed respite was an option, I'd take it for a day or two.
Maybe you are trying to fit your square peg into a round hole, as they say. Some time ago, i.e. childhood, I recognized that things I loved and found beautiful and sustaining and meaningful were not valued by popular culture. So I don't participate much, and when I do, participate with thoughtful consideration: no meat since the seventies, no cell phone, no iGadgetry, no social networking, an hour a day online, a four mile walk every morning in nature, sitting on a little cushion for an hour, a bowl of sweet fruit after dinner instead of sugary fatty dessert. These are life actions that make me happy, and while the world is both a terrible and beautiful place, it is what it is, and I exist in it with gratitude and contentment.

Over the past few years, I've noticed that you're using your precious life energy with more care. It's like a snowball rolling downhill. Welcome to Anomalyville. It's pretty nice here.
I feel the exact same way, Cranky, and I intend to spend the rest of my days looking for beauty and avoiding the ugliness that prevails. There is still some beauty left to be found.
I’m not depressed. The world just sucks.

I've got two words for your to consider:

First one is "gravity." Think about the meaning of the word.

Second one is "gravity." Think about the other meaning of the word.

Hope the health improves, although as I approach 76, my personal experience is that "deteriorate" is more likely than "improve."
I gave up TV years ago for the very reasons you've listed, and avoid contact with certain people online and off for those same validly conclusive reasons.
Right on.
Bah! I love the title...this was amazing.
Cranky,me too.."Stop the world. I want to get off. ""..I think you said it all...
And yet here we all are. I feel so ashamed...and perhaps a solidarity hug coming on!