Everything is Just Terrible: A Look at Pessimism

In what little wisdom and intellect I have managed to obtain in my 24 years alive, I believe I have discovered that I am somewhat of a pessimist. By dwelling on the darker side of the world I find I am able to uncover the deep contrasts of various aspects of society and culture. I’m able to learn and explore on a deeper level, which I can then apply to my writing.

Now, as I searched for a suitable image for this post–of which I really couldn’t find any–I happened upon several quotes relating to pessimism. Many of them briefly detailed the negative side of pessimism, stating how pessimists are weak, or perhaps missing opportunities that optimists are reveling in. Looking past the oxymoron of criticizing a pessimist in such a way, without the pessimist there would be no optimist, just as there would be no optimist without an pessimist. The two negatively compliment each other. Without knowing the bad, the negative, or the terrible of every situation, how do we measure what is good about it? And if we can’t see the positive in something, how do we know just how negative it can be? Without the other, the optimist and the pessimist are both operating under a delusional state of ignorance.

But, for purposes of this post, I’d like to focus on pessimism. After all, it is the concept with which I have the most experience. While I am capable of seeing the upside in many things, I believe the negatives have slightly more to offer. People live with the belief of utopias and candy-coated goodness in the world when there is plenty to learn from the lingering darkness underneath it. The negatives of every good event leave such a drastic, stark contrast.

In terms of storytelling, what can we learn from the soldier serving in the name of good, but being subjected to the terrors of the world that lead to alcoholism, divorce, and suicide? What horrors stare them in the face? More importantly, perhaps, what can be done to help ease those horrors? By observing the darkness, the pessimistic side of the world, we can locate the roots of pain and horror and potentially find a way to fix it. That is what, as of late, I’ve been attempting to do with my writing. By telling stories that highlight darkness, I want to show the world the consequences of its wrongdoings. Of course, defining what is wrong is certainly a subjective concept as it can vary in both degree and perception.

But without living the pessimistic life–to some degree–I would be unable to explore these things. And as I further learn about philosophy and psychology as it pertains to media and the way people act, I find that I dig deeper into the world of pessimism not out of personal enjoyment–although I do enjoy writing–but instead out of personal intellectual exploration. To examine and identify what makes the world what it is, why, and what the hell is going to happen to it if we keep it up.

Stating that pessimists are weak, as I found in some quotes, I believe comes from a lack of wanting to face the world as it is. The pessimist is the individual who stares into the terrors of the world and emerges with understanding, perspective, and a desire to eradicate it.


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