- by Gitabushi
I go to a geek website daily. It seems like 10% (probably not that high) of the posts are cartoons about anxiety, like this one:
AmandaPandaComics, support her on Patreon if you are so inclined.
The isn’t funny. It isn’t insightful. It *normalizes* fragility.
It normalizes fragility and inability by saying, “See? Your thoughts are normal. Other people feel this way. There’s nothing wrong with you and no reason to change.”
But there *is* something wrong with feeling anxiety. Normal people should *not* feel anxiety doing normal tasks like making a purchase at the grocery store.
We have a Death of Competence crisis going on the US. I’ve seen it at multiple levels. We’ve developed a system predicated on a complete lack of understanding of how to do stuff.
One example is Hillary Clinton. She never *did* anything. She just rode her husband’s coattails and had a staff make decisions for her that let her take credit for.
I saw it when working at a 3-Letter Agency. The director was an engineers should know how to do stuff. But she mainly knew how to talk. She isolated herself with layers of staff. No one above a GS-13 would make an independent decision on anything. If you had a proposal, it had to be presented perfectly up through the layers of staff. If anything was wrong (bad grammar, in the wrong color folder), it was kicked back to be redone.
I understand the concept: if your attention to detail is lacking, then it probably extends to the proposal. But the reverse is not true: just because every i is dotted and every t crossed, it doesn’t mean the proposal is well-thought-out, or a good proposal; it just means the focus is on superficial aspects of appearance, rather than on the salient aspects of a project.
So as assigned projects filtered upward, the higher staff would demand more explanations, and recommendations. I’m sure there was some thought in signing off on the recommendations, sometimes the higher ranks would use their knowledge and experience to raise the “bullshit flag” and knock it back down. But in general, the whole process was designed so that if something worked, the decision-makers could take credit for approving it; but if it failed, the blame could be placed on the GS-13s (the highest level just short of an actual leadership position at most Agency HQs) that provided the hard numbers and background information for the proposal, or perhaps the staff that let the proposal through.
This is success in the US right now. We don’t teach anyone how to *lead* organizations to success. We discourage anyone taking risks. Our leaders insulate themselves from the possibility of being associated with a failure, so they can move up in the ranks of a zero-tolerance system.
And this adversity to risk and fear of making decisions trickles down to the average person, like the one in the comic.
I think this is because the US is rich and successful. Outside of the military and some engineering projects, there are no life-and-death consequences for failure, so people don’t learn how to do effective risk analysis and then take risks. All their decisions are career-path based, rather than project success-based.
I mean, I know I’m painting with an overly-wide brush here, but I think this *is* what’s happening.
We are teaching our kids to not think, to not plan, to just follow the life plan set up for them on rails: go to school, get a degree, live in a city, & everything will be perfect. I understand this, too: you want your kids to have a good life. There is a way to achieve that, so teach them to follow it.
But the problem is that we tell them to follow it exactly, and promise them that if they do, everything will be fine and there will be no struggle, no problems.
No. You have to think for yourself, try things out, take risks, learn how to manage your life. I *want* my kids to struggle. How else can they learn how to avoid mistakes that cause people to struggle with life?
I have no doubt the person in this comic *is* common among young kids right now. But it shouldn’t be. If you are feeling anxious about finances, YOU CAN LEARN TO NOT BE.
Okay, let’s back up a moment, here.
The point of a Character-Driven story is the main character reaches a point where they can no longer continue as they have been. They MUST change. Then they change.
For this cartoon to be actually helpful, rather than cocooning readers in failure, it should have started with the realization that you can’t live being anxious about buying tampons. That you have to make changes so you are never anxious about buying tampons again. Then you walk through the door into adulthood.
@StephenStorey has been collecting tweets from people who are anxious about being adults, who have never lived how to live a bountiful life. I suggested he put all these quote tweets into one long thread (much like I have done with “Leftists are caught in the grip of incoherent apoplexy” and “Democrats are a criminal organization masquerading as a political party”.
He liked the idea, so he should soon be collecting tweets from these incompetents we’ve created. I hope he never stops adding to it, so it becomes an irresistible weight of motivation for his students (and anyone who reads it) to learn to live a glorious, successful life.
It starts with recognizing that anxiety over a simple purchase is not normal, and unnecessary.
Go, and do.