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Heartbreaking: This Man Has No Idea He’s The Guy His Friends Think Of In Order To Remember Their Lives Could Always Be Worse (WITH READER DISCUSSION GUIDE)

After reading the article, stick around for a reader discussion guide to help you tease out themes and concepts from the story with your family, friends, or study group!

Brace yourself, because this upcoming story about a very pathetic guy might the most gut-wrenching thing you hear all week: This man has no idea he’s the guy his friends think of in order to remember their lives could always be worse.

Just heartbreaking.

Although 35-year-old Dylan Ottery’s life isn’t outright horrible, it’s also not one most people would want. Bad luck seems to follow him everywhere he goes, like how he seemingly picks up bedbugs on every business trip even when no one else does, or how at this point, he’s had at least four different variants of Covid. Still, though, Dylan shows up to every social gathering and fearlessly regales his friend group with a story about whatever bad thing happened to him that week without realizing that every subsequent detail he reveals only serves to make everyone feel better about themselves, solely because they’re glad that they’re not him.

Dylan has no idea that the reason his friends call him when they go through a breakup isn’t because he gives great advice, but because they know that no matter how many times they’ve been rejected, Dylan will always have been rejected more. And he’s totally oblivious to the fact that the reason his friends confide in him about their financial issues isn’t because he’s an empathetic listener, but because his constant stream of job losses and debt will never fail to remind them just how good it is not being Dylan.

God. It’s seriously so sad that this guy is out here living his life with no idea that his friends are all cheering themselves up by thinking, “Hey, it could be worse. I could be Dylan.”

This is just awful. While on the one hand it speaks to Dylan’s unbreakable resilience that he is able to remain both positive about his lot in life and clueless to the fact that everyone around him has it way better, it’s pretty tragic that his friends are only able to snap out of their own depressive spirals by thinking of how great it is that they’re not him. What a bummer.

READER DISCUSSION GUIDE For “Heartbreaking: This Man Has No Idea He’s The Guy His Friends Think Of In Order To Remember Their Lives Could Always Be Worse”:

Is there anyone in your life who you think of in order to feel better about yourself? If so, why?

It’s said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” yet in this instance, comparison is the giver of joy. Is comparison always a bad thing?

Do you identify with Dylan, or with the people in his life? If so, why?

Why do you think Dylan remains unaware of this situation?

Is the tendency to compare ourselves to others in order to feel better analogous to the old adage, “there are starving people in Africa”?

Is your own life better or worse than Dylan’s? If so, why?

In today’s world of memes and video content, what is the role of prose-based satirical comedy?