Ok, new topic.  I can’t believe that phrase I used last time “my brand new shiny blog”  Sounds so “perky”.  Like Lu Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore show, “I hate perky”.  I am a proud pessimist, or as I like to think of myself, a realist.

There have been some very interesting articles lately about the problems of a society that worships positivism and hope.  They can become crutches that keep us from actually doing anything because we believe that things will always somehow get better.


At the above link, there is an interview of Barbara Ehrenreich by Anis Shivani of In These Times about the problem of unrealistic optimism and how it is affecting society in America.  Barbara Ehrenreich has written a new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Underminded America (Metropolitan/Holt, October 2009)

In response to the question posed by Anita Shivani: Is promoting optimism a mechanism of social control to keep the system in balance?

Barbara Ehrenreich stated: If you want to have a compliant populace, what could be better than to say that everyone has to think positively and accept that anything that goes wrong in their lives is their own fault because they haven’t had a positive enough attitude? However, I don’t think that there is a central committee that sits there saying, “This is what we want to get people to believe.”

“It took hold in the United States because in the ’80s and ’90s it became a business. You could write a book like Who Moved My Cheese?, which is a classic about accepting layoffs with a positive attitude. And then you could count on employers to buy them up and distribute them free to employees.”

I joke about being a pessimist, but it is similar to the old joke that goes like this:  “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t actually after you”.  It has become an obsession with Americans that we MUST be positive and think only good thoughts, and if things go wrong then it has to be that we somehow made bad things happen because we unconsciously made them happen due our bad attitude.  Really?  Think about it.  It is a real mind bender.