On depression

With a highly-educated population you always end up with large groups of people who understand what’s happening and feel capable of making a contribution, but who are in the losing faction and can only watch while people they despise run the show, usually disastrously badly from their point of view. That describes me and pretty much everyone I know.

How would that not lead to depression? It’s a double whammy: being personally disregarded, disrespected, and unsuccessful, and also having to watch those in power ruin the world.

Liberal arts majors, humanists,and generalists are the ones most subject to depression, whereas businessmen, politicos, and tech specialists are in the drivers’ seat and can be cheery as hell. They work at what they’re good at and are well paid for their work, and as a result most things that can be technically defined are well done — as long as they don’t conflict with some major interest. But the biggest deficiencies and dysfunctions of our society are mostly at the general level of overall system coordination, rather than at the tech specialist level — for one example, our economic and governmental systems work well enough on their own terms, but seem not to be compatible with the long-term welfare of the human race.

And of course, the conclusion economists, politicos, businessmen, and specialists draw from this is “Oh, those generalists and humanists always fuck everything up, we need to take over and do things right” — even though the generalists and humanists had never been in the loop at all. And the economists, politicos, businessmen, and tech people go on to fuck things up worse, improvising by the seat of their pants on something they’ve never thought about for more than an afternoon.

Author: John Emerson

An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur.

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