Upon learning that my application for a position at a noted literary agency had been passed on, I collapsed in on myself like a supermassive star starting on its journey to become a black hole. I curled up in bed and, as is common among the members of my generation, sought comfort in the warm glow of technology."I am miserable," I told my phone, not really believing it myself. Surely misery feels more like cold blooded torture and less like ambiguous disappointment at my own failures in life.
"Oh, that's too bad!" my phone said. "If I had arms, I would hug you!" I knew as my phone spoke it was already transmitting this information about my mental state to its masters and potential data-mining clients, but I was too busy trying to cry to care. Lately I've been trying to force myself to cry on the assumption that doing so will release some kind of hormone in my brain that makes me feel better. No luck so far, but I'll keep trying.
There is one thing that never fails to cheer me up, and no, it's not tortilla chips and queso, although those two particular ingredients can solve most of life's ills. What really brightens my day is the misery of other people. The ingenious comic misanthropes that ought to be elected to public office have termed this feeling schadenfreude, from the German for "Mother, the harvest is ready and yet that idiot Hans has once again fallen upon his own pitchfork, eliciting laughter in me that stays me from the reaping."
The ingenious Germans have a way with words.
I asked my phone how many other people felt like me. How do they find the voice actors for phones, are they people, or are they machines that replicate people's voices so perfectly? And if they are people, do they ever take offense at having their voices labeled neutral enough to personify a machine? If somebody told me I sounded like HAL 9000, I wouldn't take it as a compliment. And then I would turn off their life support.
In any case, my phone responded, "There are many people who have SAD. About four to six percent of people are affected by SAD." As I was only listening to my phone and not reading the text on screen, I thought that this was an awfully strange way of phrasing sadness. I could imagine psychologists around the nation settling back into their armchairs, smoking pipe in hand, as they asked their clients, in all seriousness, "Tell me, do you have the SAD? How long have you felt the SAD in your life?"
Five minutes later I looked at my phone to complain to all the people in my life that things weren't going my way, and I realized that what my phone had been trying to tell me was that SAD stood for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is one of the causes for depression I don't understand. I personally love crummy weather, and prefer overcast days to sunny and bright ones. To me, the sun has always been an annoying necessity, like weekly showers or customer service representatives. If I could do without it, I would. Yet, here are people who find the doom and gloom of winter and fall to be just that, doomy and gloomy.
I suppose I can at least take comfort in that, whether you're sad or you're SAD, nobody is happy.