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Don't complain about your perfect life

Recently, a woman wrote to Salon for advice under the pseudonym Mom of Three. Her children are healthy, her marriage is happy, and she has a good job. So what’s her problem? I’ll let her tell you:

I love my family dearly, and my children bring me great joy. So what’s the problem then? I worry that I’ve brought them into a world whose future holds overpopulation (for which I myself feel a bit responsible) and global warming. My children have such bright futures ahead, which may be completely devastated by these global crises.

I feel guilt at having brought them into the world, and yet I can’t imagine not having them in my world. I feel so hopeless that I am unable to make the world a better place for them. My happiness in the present is marred by my heartache thinking of their future.

How do I cope with these feelings?

You might notice that Mom of Three is really scraping the bottom of the problem barrel. Salon’s Carey Tennis went off his meds to reply:

All humans feel this same heartache as we see that those we love we cannot protect and that everything we know and love will one day be gone. We are all filled with occasional sorrow when we stop to glimpse the fact that all that is familiar and safe, all that is beautiful, all will be gone as we also will be gone and those we love will be gone, and all the torments also,... all that will be gone, the lessons of politics and philosophy, the works of art, the music, the novels, everything will be gone. Everything. Nothing can outlast the ceaseless churning of idea and matter and time.

… You will be forgotten. I will be forgotten. This whole thing will be gone.

… Meditate on these things. Just meditate. Just sit and let these things enter your consciousness, and if there is strife and conflict in your relationships with your husband and your kids, see what you can do to lower the conflict. Let them be. They are going to go. They are beyond your control already. You are just a passenger now.

Passenger? Really? But more importantly, why post such an elaborate reply when he could simply have run naked down the street screaming “It’s all over, man! It’s all over!” Upload to YouTube: done.

Joe Romm over at Thinkprogress.org figures that Tennis not only went full tin-foil-hat on this one, but he actually missed the question entirely. Romm stresses that real concern over climate change is both reasonable and something you can take real steps to address. For example, educate yourself, educate your children, get some exercise, remember that you’re not alone, go easy on the caffeine, and so on.

I think they both missed the point. The answer, Mom of Three, is that you have just forfeited your complaining privileges.

Did a hurricane wash away your house? Did the thinning ozone give you cancer? No? Because if you’re actually writing in to say that climate change—no no: worrying about climate change—is the biggest stress in your life, that sounds a lot more like bragging.

You are literally losing sleep over the weather. In twenty years.

Do you have any idea what kind of pain and stress and grief the rest of us tolerate on a daily basis? You have a good job, financial security, a happy marriage, and three perfectly good children. I can't help but think that these are reasons to be happy.

Meanwhile, the rest of us struggle to stay employed, pay rent, and stave off the creeping emptiness which consumes us a bit more each day. Your biggest worry is that you've brought children into a world that isn't good enough for them. Am I the only one offended to hear someone complain about this?

As a people, we seem to have forgotten the difference between a real problem and mere wallowing by someone who has no idea how good she has it. At the risk of appearing insensitive, Mom of Three, your problems stink. 

The way I see it, there is an unspoken rule of decency which limits your right to complain unless a minimum number of things are wrong with your life. Mom of Three is clearly guilty of breaking that rule.

Perhaps another example.

A man wrote into Dear Prudence at Slate.com for advice under the pseudonym Nasty Surprise. It seems that he met his wife in college, where they fell in love, married, and had three children. As it turns out, they were both born to women who used sperm banks. Here's what happened:

She had sought out her biological father as soon as she turned 18, as the sperm bank her parents used allowed contact once the children were 18 if both parties consented...

Well, our anniversary is coming up and I decided to go ahead and, as a present to my wife, see if my biological father was interested in contact as well. He was, and even though our parents had used different sperm banks, it appears so did our father, as he is the same person.

See? Unpredictable incest: now that's a problem. This guy obviously needs advice. Mom of Three, on the other hand, needs a dose each of Ambien and Shut Up.

If you are going to take the time to sit down, write a letter, fill it with your deepest feelings, and send it in to an advice columnist for all the world to see, then you have got to do a lot better than climate change. We're all worried about that. Find your own thing.

I'm not saying that Mom of Three has no problems. I’m just saying that she has a lot of nerve whining about them.

If you crap sunshine, don't complain when your pants are full of rainbows.

 

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