Why Are Germans So Depressing? Because You’re Hanging Out with the Wrong Ones.

Why is Germany so depressing? Are German people downers? Why so sad?
“This guy is WILD. Trust me. He just needs a couple beers poured down his throat.” — (Image Credit: Depression by ryan melaugh (Modified from original) [https://www.flickr.com/photos/120632374@N07/] Subject to CC 2.0 License.)
Germans have a reputation for being depressing. For being downers, complainers, bitchers and moaners. “Worst-case-scenario” thinkers and “the-sky-is-always-falling” killjoys. And this overall “depressing” stereotype is often further described using adjectives like pessimistic, negative, sad, gloomy, cold, unfriendly and even downright rude.

Now, I’m an American expat from Portland, Oregon, and I’ve been living in Germany since 2012. I have met a lot of depressing Germans. Like, a shitload. Hell, my own German wife slips into downer mode from time to time — and what’s more — even she thinks Germans are depressing.

Germany is a depressing country
“This German is at his own birthday party.” — (Image Credit: Swallowed by the Sea by Kelly B [https://www.flickr.com/photos/foreverphoto/] Modified from original. Subject to CC 2.0 License.)
I’m not sure how this stereotype got started, but like most stereotypes, there seems to be a teeny, tiny, kernel of truth to it. Maybe it has something to do with the long, gray winters and overall lack of sunshine in this part of Europe. Maybe it comes from drinking too much beer and eating too much pig meat. Or maybe — and this is just a guess here — it has something to do with the stigma and inherited guilt from that one big huge war I keep hearing so much about. You know, the one with the stumpy little black-haired freak screaming a bunch of crazy shit into a microphone? And then pissing off, like, pretty much every single country in the world? You must know what I’m talking about here, because Hollywood literally cannot stop making movies about it. (I’m pretty sure a new one is hitting theaters this summer.)

Anyway, to say Germans are all a bunch of sad sacks and negative nellies is a massive sweeping generalization. It would be like saying the French are all prissy little bitches wearing fruity berets and twirling their mustaches all day long while acting like total cocks to tourists who mispronounce the word “croissant.” Or like saying British people are all a bunch tea-sipping, snaggletoothed dandies with a taste for fried fish wrapped in filthy newspaper and an inexplicable reverence for some jobless bitch in a crown. And, of course, it would also be like saying we Americans are all a bunch of loud, obnoxious, pickup-driving fuckwits with an overabundance of confidence and a smashed tangerine dipped in crazy-sauce for a president. (Okay, that last one is true.)

The problem with sweeping generalizations is the simple fact that there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve personally met a bunch of genuinely positive, optimistic German people. (Like 1 out of 10, but still; exceptions, dammit.) Take, for example, our very good German friends: Princess Plight and the Senseless Wonder. Princess Plight — although wonderful and I love her to pieces — is quite literally incapable of happiness. She cannot feel joy. Not even for a second. Hanging out with her is exactly as much fun as a public execution. Even when she attains something good in her life, like a new puppy, dream car, or job promotion or something, she still thinks something horrible is waiting for her just around the next corner. The point is, she can never let her guard down, and that is exactly why her every waking minute is spent beneath the shadow of a big, dark, German cloud of depression.

Sad Depressed German Woman
“Well ‘good morning’ to you too!” — (Image Credit: Trapped by Mark Ingle [https://www.flickr.com/photos/micurse/] Modified from Original. Subject to CC 2.0 License.)
Now, her husband — the Senseless Wonder — is the polar opposite; he is happy, joyful and looking forward to each and every day with a shit-eating grin on his face and that kind of profoundly naive optimism in his heart typically reserved for schoolchildren and people who play the lottery. Hanging out with him is like tripping balls on leprechaun pubes and unicorn piss. Again, I love this guy to pieces, but he really is a big, dumb, ray of light in a country whose citizens are otherwise known for being dark and depressed. He is the exception to the rule.

So, whenever we meet up with these two friends of ours, I let my wife get her spirit crushed by the wife, while I go off and have a blast in Crazyville with the husband. It all works out great! Of course, there are times when my wife will later complain to me about how depressing the occasion was, but all I can do is tell her the truth: “That woman will never be happy. She can’t be. That’s why I hang out with her husband!”

And right about then is when my wife will frown, strike her fist in frustration and exclaim:

“God dammit,
you always get the raisins!”*

*Translated loosely from German, “Du pickst dir immer die Rosinen heraus!” meaning, quite literally, “You always pick the raisins out!” — but stems from the old German saying, “Die besten Rosinen heraus picken,” meaning, “to pick the best raisins,” or, more figuratively, “to get the best pick.”**

**…and fuckin’ A right I do! Life is way too short to waste on sad sacks and joyless poo flingers.

29 thoughts

  1. Nice one. And so true. To add another example: I’ve just been to Seattle, WA. When I took buses to Everett (you know, Boeing) I’ve met the nicest of bus drivers. They were very helpful, forthcoming and seemingly in the best mood of their lives. Then I thought of bus drivers in Germany who can barely talk to you. How can you be in such a great mood when having to deal with tons of people every day?


  2. Lol! I’m German and you’re so right! I live in Germany and that’s why I prefer to spend my time on social communities with Americans – thanks to internet… Phew! Haha…


      1. Noooooooo…Germans are pretty depressing. It is the opposite of USA. The country where your dreams are destroyed. Germans don’t take any risk.


  3. I have been living almost my whole life here in Germany, and I can only agree. Germans are number one in destroying dreams and hopes. I hate living here actually, and planning to get the hell out of here hopefully :’D


  4. This is precisely why I belong in Germany rather than my native land (the U.S.). Groundless optimism and “the sun’ll come out tomorrow” just pisses me right off. (“Really? Damn. Our garden needs rain!”) I am a realist, like most Germans, and (but?) I am happy here every day.


      1. Already here. Happily living in the Schwabenland since 2012. :-) And I agree with you – if someone thinks Germans are depressing, he’s hanging out with the wrong ones.


  5. I am German and consider myself quite funny and realistic! I live in the US and get very often tired of the over praising and ‘you can do anything if you put your mind to it’ over optimism, quite frankly it pisses me off!! I praise when praise is in orser but the ‘ good try’ when it was really a miserable one, will never cross my lips! At least my kids don’t have overinflated egos and end up in a horrible audition on American Idol, as laughing stock to the world!!!


  6. I love this Articel and i agree, we germans are downers, sometimes. One question; i was wondering if “Princess Plight” might be the same Person as “Killjoy McBittertits” you mentioned in an other article?


  7. I think some Americans can be quite depressing. Same situation! You’re just hanging out with the wrong people!


  8. Ho! Ho! So funny, but yet so true especially first thing in the morning. On the train! One morning, someone actually smiled at me and I so couldn’t believe it that I actually turned around thinking they were looking at something else. Nope. It was to me.
    I’ll take it!


  9. I had the pleasure of living in Germany for 5 months last year (I’m Canadian). My greatest culture-shock was that people didn’t seem to have small talk in grocery stores etc! (Another possible explanation of this would be that they didn’t want to talk to someone who spoke such poor German haha!) When I came home I felt so rude at first, because I had adopted more a direct, to-the-point attitude.


  10. So true. Beautifully written and quite funny!

    I am German and living in Germany. There are differences though between being clinically depressed and being a downer by being extremely negative. I assume these things are related. But the former is an actual illness. A friend of mine (who is Canadian) got really upset about people constantly using “depressed” to label “ordinary” unhappyness.

    I think it would help to (gradually) change the general culture in daily life by being a positive example: focus on gratitude. Stop envying others and hating them for what they have. Just be happy, dammit!


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