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The Dark Side

The Yin and the Yang–a post in two parts.

Perhaps this is a post that simply needs to be written every year or so.

There is a scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Augustus Gloops is stuck in the pipe and the chocolate is sloshing around him with nowhere to go.  “They could see it building up behind him in a solid mass, pushing against the blockage.  The pressure was terrific.  Something had to give.  Something did give, and that something was Augustus.”

I was reading a review of the book for Other People’s Rejection Letters in People magazine (yes, I read it cover to cover.  Don’t judge).  The reviewer pointed out, “A rejection letter can sway or scar a life, causing one person to give up his dreams, another to work harder.”  I haven’t read the book, but the concept of rejection is something that affects people in the same way in non-letter form.  Friendship that isn’t returned, a job that you don’t get, the negative cycle, the blog post that isn’t read or met with comments.  Rejection happens in subtle and obvious ways all day long.

I think it’s a special person–perhaps a more evolved person–who uses rejection to keep refueling them.  I think for the majority of us–myself included–rejection simply has a way of tearing the heart until you want to curl up on a bed and spend the afternoon crying.

And yes, while the sting of rejection usually fades, I haven’t found that it goads me on later.  I usually take rejection to simply be rejection–a declaration that I should set my sights elsewhere.

I cannot be the only one who is feeling this in the air, sensing the frustration all around me.  It is coming on a global level with the news saturated with stories ranging from unrest and disappointment to all out rage and destruction.  It is coming on a local level.  I recently joined a local listserv and my experience in the first few weeks have been marred with continuous bickering.  I get three digest emails a day filled with local news as well as name-calling, allegations, and people declaring how disgusted they are.  Quite an eye-opening welcome.

It is everything from Helen Thomas to entire hate sites set up to mock a single blogger and everything in between.

It is face-to-face and online.  Almost every conversation with a friend these past few weeks have utilized a few minutes discussing a slight or a feeling a sense of disquiet.  A feeling that something is not quite right within their relationships, their workplace, their marriage, their home.  It seems as if people are posting less and commenting less–something I associate with the disquiet I noticed last year.  It soon passed as the mood broke–which is not to say that life became perfect, world peace was achieved, and all relationships became harmonious, but there was definitely a change in mood within the blogosphere over summer and the disquiet returned in August.  It stuck around for a bit, and then passed again in the fall.

I distinguish this from personal moods.  It seems that we are in a period of disgust, frustration, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction and the blog posts (or also the lack-thereof) reflect this.  People seem to be nastier.  Shorter-tempered.  I am too.  And, at the same time, it’s a nice period of time in my life and my general daily mood seems in discordance with this larger mood.  But the emotional soup that exists outside the home changes how I’m processing my day-to-day.  I hope it’s working in the other direction too, but I fear that it’s more that the negativity is seeping into my personal mood.

I think Josh and my discussion on friendship and trusting people and building a relationship from afar all feeds into this general disquiet.  Is there a general lack of trust right now–with our world leaders, our family, our neighbours, our friends, our online connections?  Does that disquiet make us want to pull back, post less, comment less, interact less?

Poor Augustus Gloop shoots out of the pipe and into the Fudge Room and I think most of us are feeling this strange pressure and discontent building up behind us and it has the power to either shoot us forward energetically into the next mood–one where we take our disquiet and turn it around into positive change–or simply scar us (if not forever, than at least for the short-term) changing the way we view other people.

Have you noticed the dark side?  What are your feelings from inside the figurative tube, the chocolate sloshing around you?


1 Half of a Duo, Raising a Duo { 06.08.10 at 8:31 am }

You kinda nailed it with the “dark side” post. I’ve also noticed a lot of people feeling unsettled, and betrayed. I’ve become a lot more untrusting. I’ve experienced recently a lot of “users” as far as friendships… where people I believed to be friends, took, took, took and didn’t give back…

It’s tough out there but being as I am a giver by nature, I really am struck by how selfish and uncaring and “all for myself and forget the others” people can be.

I’ve become much more guarded w/my IRL friends as a result of this. I leave it up to God to settle the score, though. I know I do right by the people I love and care for. If they do me wrong it isn’t up to me to settle the score. God is the great Mediator.

2 mash { 06.08.10 at 8:33 am }

Hmmmm, I actually felt it more about two weeks ago. I felt an extreme heaviness in general all around me, and especially in my own life, as I faced for the first time, the concept that I may never become a mother. I cried, I became physically ill. And then very suddenly it’s lifted, suddenly last week I started to see possibility again. And two of the blogs I follow posted about BFP’s in less than a week. I have a feeling of hope all around me now!

3 Heather { 06.08.10 at 8:56 am }

Personally, I hate it. There is so much disrespect for each other—someone writes from their heart and then they get snark. Or trolls. Or ugliness. It’s sad.

Also, I subscribe to People, and my BFF gets Us—then we switch. It’s a great way to incorporate smut in to your life. 😉

4 Delenn { 06.08.10 at 9:20 am }

Actually, I was just thinking about this sense of dread and unease the other day. Spot on (as usual). And I love love it when you quote Charlie! I sometimes feel like I am in the tube, but on the other hand–CHOCOLATE! 🙂

5 a { 06.08.10 at 9:20 am }

Hmmm…maybe it is something in the atmosphere. All I know is, my life is pretty easy right now, and yet I keep breaking out in unreasonable rages (fortunately, mostly self-contained) over the slightest irritations. But, on the other hand, it’s nice to know that stewing over something for an entire 3.5 mile walk allows me to expend enough energy on it so that I can actually discuss it reasonably when I get home. The downside is that there are only so many 3.5 mile walks I can take in a day and the irritations outnumber the walks by about 17 to 1! I do hope that this passes soon…

I think the answer might be a whole lot of anger that cannot be resolved – we’re angry with our political leaders, we’re angry with oil companies, we’re angry with banks that are screwing with our credit, we’re angry with companies that have laid people off, we’re angry with the stock market, the bond market, the futures market…all kinds of impotent anger that we can’t do a thing about. So we stew, and get in foul moods and take it out on people who don’t deserve it. But that’s just my theory.

6 Mina { 06.08.10 at 9:38 am }

I know what you mean, and I usually am rather sensitive to this kind of mood shifts, but this year, I am too wrapped up in my own life to notice anything else properly.

But I have noticed the fewer posts. And comments. And the rather darker mood among some bloggers. I just thought people were getting busy with life and posting less. And that people post more when they are going through a rough patch… Never stopped to think if this is a general event or something temporary. Huh… You might be on to something, miss Mel.

7 serenity { 06.08.10 at 9:40 am }

I never considered that my own personal disquiet could be influenced by a general sense of unease. That’s definitely something to consider. Thanks for posting this.


8 Ellen K. { 06.08.10 at 10:19 am }

Yes, I’ve noticed it, too, particularly while blogging — fewer posts, more irritability in the posts and the comments — and I’ve felt similarly crabby and humorless when reading my favorite news/political sites and the newspaper. I thought something was going on internally, but I know it’s heavily influenced by sadness and rage re: the oil spill, political debates, and financial worries. I can’t summon the least bit of optimism when I consider it all. Cruel summer. But at least I know I’m not overreacting re: blogging.

9 Kir { 06.08.10 at 11:08 am }

I know that I feel some of it in the blogosphere, what’s funny is that inside my own life, I am feeling some disquiet and some halting…but it’s because with twin toddlers, I am constantly running and feeling like I am getting nowhere, I feel like I am repeating history with my own parenting and that I’m not getting it right…so in reality, I , the girl who doesn’t do reality TV, has turned to the world of my blog friends and seek comfort for my heavy heart there.
I have been writing more, more optimism than I’ve felt in a long time, I have been feeling more connected and more helpful too. Like I am part of something.

I do think that as far as world goes, betrayal feels like it’s everywhere and I can attest that I even feel it online too…but for the most part, this community,,,dark or not , has been my light.

10 Kristin { 06.08.10 at 11:54 am }

I’ve definitely noticed it but hadn’t really defined what I was noticing or feeling.

11 Kitty { 06.08.10 at 12:20 pm }

I’m definitely feeling some pressure building up personally, and I think you’re onto something about a general disquiet contributing to it. And you’re right, it always seems to happen right around summertime.

12 Tara { 06.08.10 at 1:09 pm }

Very thought-provoking post…I always felt my disquiet moods were just me & never considered it on a more global scale.

13 April { 06.08.10 at 1:34 pm }

I’ve noticed similar and have been feeling the disquiet myself. I’ve been chalking it up to the tests that I’ve had to have done or will have done over the next few weeks and the worry I’ve got about the results. You’ve hit the nail on the head as always.

14 Jendeis { 06.08.10 at 4:53 pm }

Yes, I completely agree with you. I’ve been noticing something similar on the morning calls into C-SPAN. The tenor is far more vitrolic than usual.

The problem with your Augustus Gloop analogy is that it makes me think about how much I’d like to drink from the chocolate river too. But, I’d also be concerned about falling in. Why wasn’t there some sort of Archimedes Screw or something to a fountain? That part bothers me every time I watch the movie. Yes, I’m weird. And now I’m hungry. Again.

15 S { 06.08.10 at 7:27 pm }

I had noticed that it seems that every news story I hear is focusing on negativity, but I thought perhaps it was a combination of my hormone-induced bad moods and a husband who watches too much CNN. It can be hard to parse out the cause of feeling unsettled or anxious when taking supplemental hormones.

16 Michelle { 06.08.10 at 9:21 pm }

EXaCTLY!!! I have been feeling this way a lot lately. Negativity seeps in and then my brain just wants to explode. I took a step back from the computer all together for about 2 to 3 weeks. Only updating a couple times and not reading much just maybe playing some games. I needed that break from this side of the (internet) world because I had to deal with my own stuff in the IRL world. I felt like all I would do would be post about anger and sadness and that can just in itself be more depressing. I do have to say that the break has helped my attitude ( a bit although I am still dealing with crap IRL). I think sometimes we just need to take a step back and take a breather.

17 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.08.10 at 9:28 pm }

I should have read this before I emailed you. I’ll have to sit and think if I’m feeling a bigger disquietude or if it’s more within me.

I read once that occasional explosions like this are good, for it means that humanity is releasing its victim-y behaviors.

Victims and victimizing. Yes, I see that going on. People feeling small and using hurtful tactics to feel big.

OK. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

18 S.I.F. { 06.08.10 at 11:55 pm }

YES! I’ve noticed so many people just down and out lately, myself included… there just seems like there is so much unrest and frustration. You captured it perfectly!

19 Deathstar { 06.09.10 at 1:11 am }

Well, it’s certainly how I’ve been feeling of late – disquiet, moody, festering on my next move….. I have definitely seen fewer posts among my reading lists. Inertia. Too much rain? Not enough rain? Mmmm. I take it as karma being stirred up like dirt swirling in a glass of water. It’s gotta settle sometime.

20 luna { 06.09.10 at 2:32 am }

I’d just like to ponder the notion of being sloshed around in a tube of chocolate for a while, before the pressure sets in…

seriously though, I know when I am discontent in my own life I have been known to direct my frustration at unsuspecting targets. not one of my better qualities, but I’m working on it.

it’s harder to connect with others in a different space too, sometimes, when you can’t see through the fog or anger or discontent with life as a whole. I tend to pull back when I can’t form a coherent thought, either in my own writing or in comments. someone else may tend to ramp up online, taking it out on others.

21 Amel { 06.09.10 at 5:14 am }

Hmmm…just yesterday I felt angry when I got a nasty remark after writing down some questions regarding Finnish words/phrases that I didn’t understand in an online forum. I wrote my questions in Finnish and one person said: “Either you played truant on your Finnish classes during school or you’re a foreigner. Those words are really everyday, normal ones. I can’t believe how bad you are at your own mother tongue!”

I was so angry that I was wondering what it was all about inside me that felt the need to be angry. Other than the fact that I had seen so many negative remarks in the cyberspace that really bothered me – it bothered me to know WHY people felt the need to do such a thing…I also realized that it had something to do with the fact that I’m now unemployed again. It’s hard to find a good job in this small village when you’re a foreigner and that person’s remark made me feel like I was really lousy. My ego was bruised and brittled ‘coz I had clung so tightly to that rope of feeling that at least I’ve learnt Finnish pretty well despite the fact of the non-job situation. So I raged when I read that person’s remark and it got worse when I thought about all the people who got remarks that they didn’t deserve in the cyberspace.

It’s not nice when I’m standing naked in front of the mirror of my soul, seeing myself as who I am right now (feeling rather hopeless about the thought of getting a good job here)…but I’m going to try and learn to embrace myself and this period of life as best as I can without losing hope. ‘Coz when I get too frustrated and hopeless and bitter, I can’t be the best that I can be – with or without a job.

So right now I’m trying to relearn to love myself and love every season of life again…no matter what…OK now I’ll stop rambling he he…

22 Justine { 06.09.10 at 2:13 pm }

I’ve definitely noticed this. Lots of negativity lately. I tend to get sucked into it … but I also notice other people around me scrambling to keep their heads above it. I think we need to remember that we’re in this together … that seems to help.

23 queenie { 06.09.10 at 8:15 pm }


But when it comes to rejection, I like to think that as I’ve grown older I’ve developed a thicker skin, and a sense of perspective. There are moments in time that I can look back on, and see that I was on the cusp of something important, but let a little rejection get in my way. I took it really hard each time I was rejected, and I gave up entirely and pursued a new path each time. Now, years later, I wonder what might have happened had I not given up so qiickly. I wonder where I would be in life, and I also know that I don’t want to live with these kind of regrets in the future. Now, I try to see rejection as a momentarily unpleasant but unavoidable part of life, and I try to take it in stride and keep going. I try to remember that wildly successful people also have enormous failures, too-their secret is that they kept going despite those failures. Finally, I try to keep in mind that sometimes rejection has nothing to do with the person being rejected-often, you don’t get the job or whatever because someone’s kid was looking for a job, or your interviewer had a bad day and dissed everyone she talked to that day, or the company decided to cut the budget for that department, or there was a less qualified person who was cheaper, so they went with her, etc. Rejection isn’t always as much about US as we sometimes think-and that’s true with personal relationships, too.

24 Suzanna Catherine { 06.09.10 at 8:21 pm }

When I feel that angry mood coming on, I always think of a Peanuts cartoon I saw many years ago. I believe it was Snoopy on top of his dog house and the caption was “Have you ever had one of those days when you just want to bite someone on the ankle?” Recently I’ve had a lot of those days!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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