Everything is F*cked - Mark Manson


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Off the back of his hugely-successful book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (2015), comes Mark Manson’s new book Everything is F*cked. With it, a whole heap of footnotes – and even more f*cks!

A hugely-entertaining, thought-provoking examination of human history and psychology that reads like the lessons you wish you had at school. You know, the ones where the teacher would take a hugely-complex idea, break it down into bite-size pieces, and only move on once you actually got it.

Lessons where facts and figures come alive through role-play. ( “Emo” Isaac Newton and his “Three Laws of Emotion” were a particularly nice touch!) The lessons were not only enjoyable, but also useful and shit made sense.  

Judging by the looks I was getting from people when I pulled out this book on the bus, people don’t like to be told – or more to the point, have it pointed out - that “everything” in the world is going to hell.

But whether we like it or not, it’s kinda true. Now I’m not talking about the usual doom we see splashed on the covers of newspapers, or the gloom that greets us every time we turn on the news. I’m referring to the fact that – in Mark Manson’s words

One day, you and everyone you love will die. And beyond a small group of people for an extremely brief period of time, little of what you say or do will ever matter.

That – cue Shakespeare – “we are inconsequential dust, bumping and milling about on a tiny blue speck”, imagining our own importance, inventing our purpose. For at the end of the day (and at the end of our limited time here on earth) we are and end up ultimately “nothing”.   

This ”truth” is deeply uncomfortable for us all – so uncomfortable in fact – that according to Manson we do everything in our power to avoid it for as long as possible.  And the way we do that is to create “hope”: little stories we buy into that give our lives meaning and purpose. These stories tell us, tomorrow will be better than today if we do x, y and z. They keep us chugging along no matter what’s thrown in our direction, and distract us from the eventual cliff-drop we’re all heading towards.

As the subtitle indicates, this book is about hope. But it’s not until you get about half-way through that you realise this book isn’t just about hope; it’s about why hope – in true Manson fashion – is actually what’s wrong with the world.

Hope is both the cause and the effect of everything being f*cked.

Manson draws on a whole range of history, psychology, philosophy, popular culture and science in order to demonstrate that the stories we tell ourselves to maintain hope are in fact destructive. Arguing that because hope makes us reject and hate what currently is (in favour of what could be) we lose the tools and ability to make the best out of our current situation.  

That hope in, for, and of the future is somewhat paradoxically producing a present-day hopelessness. A world more and more fragile, depressed and anxious than ever before.   

For Manson then, what we need is less hope.

We need to start living a life without hope. Without a sense that tomorrow will be better than today.

We’re called to stop deluding ourselves and simply and urgently accept our lives for what they are now, rather than investing our time and energy (and hope) into what *could* be.