Neither has he been living his best life now.
Nor has the newspaper columnist been "livin' the life" . . . or "rockin' the town." And his personal branding has left something to be desired.
Today, when the totality of one's existence is reduced to "branding" -- and unabashed self-promotion is as much a part of "getting ahead" as continuing to breathe in and out (and suppressing one's inner Rip Torn) -- you explain a monthslong sabbatical as "an opportunity for personal growth" . . . or as "working on an exciting new project."
BUT YOU DON'T begin your first column since returning to the Omaha World-Herald this way:
You may or may not have noticed that this column hasn’t appeared in The World-Herald for quite a while.NELSON GOES ON to describe a harrowing journey to the dark side of . . . himself. An editor talked him out of committing murder. The authorities were called. A shrink took charge.
For the last three months, I have been on a sabbatical.
Part of me would love to leave it at that. But the journalist, the part of me that seeks full disclosure from everyone else, feels I had better come clean with the reason behind my absence, no matter how embarrassing.
And besides, there are some interesting rumors out there that may or may not be as interesting as the truth.
How to say it? I went off the deep end? A screw came loose? I was off my rocker?
Actually, in all seriousness, I’ve clearly been grinding through life for quite some time with what I now know are some significant mental-health issues.
It’s estimated that one in every four Americans struggles with some diagnosable form of mental-health problem. It’s somewhat comforting knowing there are so many of us out there — so many people who know what an uncomfortable journey it can be to feel right again.
Over the last year, I increasingly had found myself struggling with depression and, at times, anger and anxiety. Some of it was simple midlife-crisis stuff.
Some, as it turns out, was more serious.
Unless your name happens to be Andy Dick, there's not much "branding" gold to be mined here. And come to think of it, what's the last job Andy Dick has held down since News Radio? Making license plates?
Oh, Lord. What would Gary Vaynerchuk do?
How do you "tweet" yourself into the national consciousness when your daily triumph is as simple -- and humble -- as "I didn't get sh*tfaced today." Or, "Taking my meds. So far, so good. No psychotic breaks! Yay!"
This is America, dammit! Half the country is broke, the other half is worried, and the third half is making out like a bandit and bragging about it all on Twitter, Facebook and Blogger.
A nation devoted to shameless self-promotion -- to style over substance, to personality cults for profit and success -- is a nation that increasingly doesn't add up.
This nation full of failure demands we construct sunny, self-serving narratives of our lives, then sell the world on our version of the Big Lie. This nation full of tragedies writ large and small doesn't want to hear about it.
BUT NO. Robert Nelson outed himself as a fallen, broken human being, one completely average in his brokenness. One utterly unremarkable in his misery.
You want to see the one unforgivable sin in America today? That's it -- honesty. How the hell do you "crush" that?
I'm sure some folk will applaud the columnist for opening a vein in the pages of the local rag. They'll say he's brave. They'll say he's showing other suffering souls that there's hope.
These people are called "activists." Their goal in life is to harsh your mellow, which might pull the plug on the power of your positive thinking and detract from your living "your best life today." I would tend to agree with these "activists."
Then again, I think Debbie Downer is a hottie. Mwah mwaaaaaaaaaah.
The rest of you, I am sure, are saying "I knew something was wrong with that Nelson boy." Like you're not f***ed up, too -- in your own special, morally superior way, of course.
Promote that brand via social media.
RT @Revolution_21 Robert Nelson's honesty about affliction making us think of our own. Not cool. No marketing in that.MONDAY, the "career diva" of MSNBC.com, Eve Tahmincioglu (please don't ask me to pronounce Tahmincioglu), asked via Twitter (of course), "have we all become a bunch of self-promoting whores?"
You know, I think we have. Mostly of the "two-bit" variety.
And if you'll excuse me, I need to tweet up this post. Facebook it, too. If I'm really lucky, maybe a couple hundred people will be blessed by my deep thoughts on this matter of great importance.
Because I am a whore for the postmodern ages. It's what I do. Now, how do I take that and "crush it"?