By Olivia Schmid || Opinions Editor
When I first picked up this book at Barnes and Noble, I couldn’t help but laugh— a book about hope… titled Everything is F*cked? Really? I picked it up anyway, eager to buy yet another self-help book with a swear word in the title. Maybe it was indeed the big swear word on the cover, or maybe even the fact that the cover is one of my favorite colors. Perhaps, though, I bought it because Mark Manson scares the actual shit out of me.
I’m more of a “everything’s good, we’re vibing, there’s good in everyone and everything, and life is perfect all the time” type of a girl. I don’t really fit the “we’re doomed, everything sucks” aesthetic, so Mark Manson being bold enough to publish a book about how the world sucks and how there’s not a lot to have hope in (but we are supposed to still have and manifest hope) baffles me; however, considering how much people talk about Mark Manson and his rather peculiar outlook on hope (and on the lack thereof), I decided to put my pride aside and give it a fair shot.
A few quick things to note about me:
I’m insanely optimistic.
I think everything is fine.
Everything is fine.
So, this is a book centered around how everything is fucked? But it’s about hope? I had my doubts.
Manson claims that hope implies that there is something better for us in the future. And because hope focuses on the future (what has not happened yet), we are in a permanent state of unknowing. As he puts it, “Hope is not based on statistics” (19). This means that even though hope can be grounded in facts to some degree, all the facts are only about what has happened in the past or what is currently true.
If you have the audacity and ability to have hope, “…you have some belief that (a) there is potential for growth or improvement or salvation in the future, and (b) there are ways we can navigate ourselves to get there” (15).
The way Manson writes about hope suddenly makes me very skeptical of hope itself—it makes me reconsider the aforementioned facts about me. I suddenly felt weird for being optimistic and hopeful, for believing there is good out there for me, for you, for what’s ahead, and for those we meet along the way.
He sort of has a twisted way of engaging with hope, because he says everything is fucked (seriously, the world is fucked up right now), but then goes on to discuss how to build and maintain hope—because we need it. Apparently.
According to Manson, to build and maintain hope, we need a:
Sense of control (control of our own life, as well as our “fate,” whatever you feel that may be)
Belief in the value of something, anything (we have to find something important enough to work toward – something better, something “worth it”)
And community (we’re part of a group that values the same thing as you)
The book goes into heavy detail about how to build these three parts, and then attempts to answer the question, “What is happening in our world that is causing us to feel worse despite everything consistently getting better?”
It’s confusing, and yet… It works.
Everything is F*cked is a book about how yeah, things are fucked sometimes (or all the time), but at the end of the day, a little hope goes a long way. Perhaps Manson and I could be good friends, after all.
Sophomore Olivia Schmid is the Opinions Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.