Open offices. 360-degree feedback. Hybrid work. Workplace fads are like episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians. There’s a shitload of them, they only get progressively dumber, and they all ask the same question: can you tell which one is fake?
The latest casualty in workplace varnish:
If you are feeling sad, you can take a (sad) day off. When I read about that, it made me so sad I had to take a day off.
Just as our conversation about mental health was hitting puberty, some woke incel somewhere went, “All health is mental health; how dare you appropriate my emotions with your ignorance and privilege and gaslight me into believing I will be just fine; I won’t be just fine; I don’t want to be just fine; marginalizing the sad is a systemic problem and this rape of the psyche is uninclusive, unindigenous and unrepresentative.”
When did sadness become a substitute for sickness?
Before we go there, here’s an idea that needs serious consideration.
Allow me to make a case.
We can all agree workplace toilets are porta potties with a foot fetish. When you go in for a shit at work, you need to first wipe the toilet seat off the previous user’s ass rebound and then there’s the pressure of getting through with it quickly so you can make it look like you just went for a wee, failing which, the anguish, the trauma of making eye-contact with your colleagues as your return to your desk. All of this can significantly affect both productivity and mental health. The key to a healthy mind and body is taking a shit in your own gender-comprehensive crapper. So if you ate from a bucket last night, you are welcome to call in shit the next day.
Shit day. Make America Great Again.
Back to mental health. Like most 21st-century cuck movements whose singular aim is to spread an awareness syphilis amongst the unenlightened, the conversation about mental health now is only widening the yawning emptiness of advertising your emotions for 15 seconds and hanging on for mercy fucks. At least hoes charge by the hour and put in some effort faking it.
It may be helpful to remind ourselves where the conversation on mental health even started, and why.
It started to remind us we weren’t alone.
It started from a place of strength. Acceptance.
Not pity. Worse yet, popularity.
Now it seems to have lost its way and ended up on a dead-end road that is validation. It’s become a stand-in to fulfill our need for attention: “Look at how cool I am just because of how broken I am.”
That shit’s scary.
If we need to talk about mental health, we can’t do it without also talking about physical health. Most of us eat garbage, don’t get enough exercise, and stew in our own farts. But you can’t say that shit. So I won’t.
The language of our conversation now is sensitivity. Sorry is the grammar. Vulnerability, the pick-up line. Awareness, outrage.
Welcome to the virtual winter. Where we are constantly flinching at consciousness. Where all human contact feels unsanitary. Where we display a special form of narcissism called virtual signaling: SOS by blowing smoke up your own arse. Here, Progress=offense+boredom. Here, irony is ironical. Here, ignorance is abandonment.
We started off well. We woke up to our insensitivities, brought our own bags to the store. But along the way, we wanted to beat the shit out of people still asleep; you know, those who weren’t wearing a mask. Woke moved away from a wake-up call to victimization. It’s now become a rowdy cry of shaming, a bacterial division of the self, its aims little more than increasing the follower count on the soft porn site we call social media.
I can’t be trivializing mental health any more than Sad days already is. But there are too many jaded cynics that crap on everything and while I enjoy that venture wholly, I am going to come around on this.
Let’s say sad days help bring attention to mental health and that’s helpful. But do we really have to do this at the risk of producing yet another brain-dead idea that mollycoddles yet another universal human condition?
Here’s something deep:
Everyone has a bad day.
When people have a bad day—the complex generality that is life amidst the living—the aforementioned particularity of the badness is a reminder of what it means to be human and alive and feel and relate at a level somewhat deeper than the relationship the Kardashians have with ageing.
Whatever happened to checking in with one another after a bad day? Let’s leave that to the professionals. Now we pretend nothing happened because your dick’s your business.
Empathy isn’t about holding hands with the people traveling the same path as you, but calling out your presence, your reassurance from a different path. Acceptance isn’t the remnant of rejection, but the risk of inclusion. Don’t carry your identity like a weapon. Carry it as armour for your aloneness, a protection of your individuality.
It’s not sad days that bother me as much as them becoming a workplace fad. There’s something suspicious about that. Psych 101 can tell you that much. Maybe it’s work that’s making you miserable and maybe that’s why you are feeling sad to begin with. Giving you a day off means you will never acknowledge the real problem: work. Because you are grateful for the day off. The manipulative assolery that is late-stage capitalism.
So here’s a deal. How about I take a day off when I am feeling especially great and I don’t have to ruin that feeling by coming into work and having to look at a bunch of dispirited dingbats?
Understanding mental health isn’t about normalizing sadness. It is about normalizing happiness. Because we have made a mockery of happiness. The amount of bullshit we have poured into happiness research has turned something as simple as joy into self-help propaganda. It’s why a child’s happiness feels so poignantly, stupidly pure and an adult’s—eww. As adults, we grow comfortable with sadness and weary with happiness. We anticipate sadness and distrust happiness.
Our chase for happiness started as a resistance to sadness. Now, our chase for sadness has become an endorsement for later happiness. The real sickness isn’t a fear of sadness, but a fear of happiness.
“Do I deserve it? Will it last? Is it okay to laugh?”
Love is a synonym for Yes.
Our idea of happiness has become all about moving toward unhappiness to escape a greater unhappiness. See marriage.
It’s absurd that the extremity of both happiness and sadness is the same thing: hopelessness. What we need from our workplaces, from a place that’s increasingly losing all hope of rehabilitation is not a quantification of attention, but an immeasurable degree of attentiveness, a vast field of playfulness, a routine of forbearance, forgiveness, and familial sacrifice, conversations free of faux sensitivity—what we need is a shared solitude in our differences—a day so totally on, it makes you want to return to it again, the next day if only to take a shit.