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Monday, November 17, 2014

My Problems are More Interesting Than Your Problems

There's nothing worse than hearing people talk
about their problems when you don't have one.
One of the most important assets in modern society is a good, interesting set of personal problems.  One problem will do, if it's a real doozy, but most people need three to four, good reliable problems.

There's nothing worse than hearing people talk about their problems, and you realize you don't have any.  You're fresh out of problems, and all you can do is nod and listen and say, "That's really terrible... Too bad... That's quite a problem you have there."  If you have a problem, when people start comparing their woes, you can whip it out and say, "You think you got problems..." and you're in the game like the rest of them.  

You can always make a problem sound worse than it really is, but if you have to make up a problem out of the clear blue sky, people can tell you're faking and then they ostracize you, whereas, if you have a really first-rate problem, your life is one mad social whirl.  People hang on every word you say, they shut up about their penny-ante problems in deference to yours, they invite you to parties.  

A lot of times, if you have a really good problem, people will give you advice.  It's a big mistake to refuse advice because it makes you look ungrateful, but it's an even bigger mistake to take their advice because sometimes it actually solves the problem which only makes them look good and meanwhile leaves you without something to talk about.  You've gone and wasted a perfectly good problem.  

The trick is to follow their advice in just such a way that it actually makes your problem worse.  This is pretty much a win-win for everyone concerned.  You've added value to your problem and proved its fascinating intractability, and they get to come up with more advice to give you.  Everyone gets to look like they're trying their best to make your problem go away, and actually it's just getting worse. 

If you're skillful at complaining, selectively following advice, and exacerbating a situation, even a relatively minor problem can be played out and enjoyed for years, sometimes and entire lifetime.

I pity anyone who doesn't have at least one good problem.

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