Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Swirling Vortex of Negativity

Ok, look, Mr. and/or Ms Swirling Vortex of Negativity, I like you, or at least I try to like you, but you take "jaded and disaffected grad student" waaaaay beyond the level of standard angst and over into the range of pathologically toxic. Paradoxically, your constant and overblown complaining makes me less sympathetic to you, and less likely to believe your side of the story, where you are always the traumatized and injured innocent victim. And I am the one who is still very sour on the whole going-to-grad-school thing, and I'm very up to date on the ways the UC is being cut to bleeding ribbons of unfundedness. You might want to consider that your constant negativity might be backfiring in terms of getting sympathy or action from people, or even provoking their terrible behavior.


(I am unsure if this picture represents me or you. Or us both. There weren't any appropriately depressing images of vortexes on the web.)

Second, have you thought about the possibility that you're just not interesting? I mean, every time you have buttonholed me and talked we have discussed the lack of progress you have on these two paragraphs of your dissertation, or the many ways your department is totally screwed up and will probably be shut down by the graduate division, or at least should be (I am not in your department and don't know any of the names you are dropping, so I don't really have any investment in this), or how student health has totally dicked you over by not paying for some health problem that has totally incapacitated you and which you proceed to describe in lurid, disgusting detail. (eww.)

I notice that whenever you ask me how I'm doing or what I'm up to, you take the start of my topic as a jumping-off point to bring up one of your own well-rehearsed problems. Perhaps if you turned some of that vituperation onto new topics you would foster a sense of variety? I hear that the President was giving a speech right while we were talking where he totally fucked over left principles by digging down deeper into that Vietnam quagmire Afghanistan, maybe that would be a nice change of pace? There are so many things in the world to be bitter and negative about, why focus so myopically on just two or three topics?

I only know that you took a bit of advantage there because you knew I had to be at a certain place at a certain time, and trapped me outside the library listening to you for forty-five minutes. I'm sure you appreciated the social contact, but with forty-five free minutes I could have gotten a good start on that book I was holding. Or played online scrabble. Whatever. Do you think people are avoiding you and that is why you are so excited to pour out all your troubles to me? Do you think that, perhaps, they are avoiding you because they fear being sucked down into a whirlpool of negativity like the doomed crew of the Pequod, and they are frantically swimming away from you for dear life? I'm only asking because the mere sight of you on my horizon makes my heart sink a bit, and I feel bad about looking for ways to pass by without your notice. Notice I did not say that I don't do it.

I realize this may be a bit much coming from someone who has a blog that at times could be called the Amazing Crankypants Technicolor Bitchfest, especially when considering that griping with grad students is my preferred way of partying with them, but really I think that there is a line that can be crossed. In your case it's about four miles back behind you. And there is a major difference between going out for drinks or having people over for dinner and bonding with them about gossip and problems and doing funny impressions of people in your program, and then there is passing people in the hallways or corralling random vague acquaintances and subjecting them to interminable, endlessly repetitive rants.

Whatever you do, consider that I might have to make a cheerfulness intervention if things continue in this vein. And those motherfucking smileyface stickers make me break out in fucking hives.

8 comments:

Feminist Avatar said...

I know that guy!

Clio Bluestocking said...

Oh, jeez, so do I. I always wanted to slip him some of Alice B. Toklas's brownies, thinking that maybe they would take the edge off.

Bardiac said...

LOL @ the suggested blog title :)

heu mihi said...

I like that the picture says "sample." Sample of what, exactly?

Sisyphus said...

A sample of the clipart I would get if I buy their clipart CD. But I like the idea of it as a prognosis picture: this is a sample of how you will feel after talking to the Vortex of Negativity.

phoenixcomplex said...

A nattering nabob of narcissism, indeed. But why do I have this sinking feeling that the guy/girl is in one of my fields? It could be anything! -- and yet...

A friend of mine says that there was an entire generation of toxic students in her graduate program, who baffled and depressed the faculty and registered their displeasure with the program by, like, not showing up for their exams -- this at a famously cushy school. People take the strangest things for granted.

Bavardess said...

"I notice that whenever you ask me how I'm doing or what I'm up to, you take the start of my topic as a jumping-off point to bring up one of your own well-rehearsed problems." Aagh! I hate people that do this! It prompts me to make up stories of a monumentally catastrophic and/or disgusting nature and then smile secretly while thinking "top that, sucker".

LassLisa said...

Oh, but Bavardess - then they do. And every helpful suggestion is just an excuse to go off about how that will never work for them because of some other calamitous catastrophe...