I've known someone through a social activity group for about a year. At first he seemed a bit odd, but more or less harmless. He's a smart and funny guy and it can be good talking with him in short bursts (he talks a lot). We're not exactly "friends;" we used to meet up and chat when the group got together before lockdown, about once a week. We also exchanged contact details a few months ago and have been chatting online.
Over time, he started telling me more intimate details about his life and feelings, and admitted to being depressed and angry at the world.
Now it seems all we ever talk about is that, but it's not really a conversation, it's just him ranting at length while I can't get a word in edgewise. I have tried to generally listen and offer thoughts about what he says, but none of it seems to get through. Even if I point out flaws in his reasoning, he'll dismiss them and change the subject, e.g.:
Him: "I hate everyone and everything."
Me: "So do you hate me too?"
Him: "Oh, uh, not you... But anyway, -goes back to ranting about how everything is terrible-"
I have often suggested he seek professional help, to which he seemed reluctant at first but did somewhat listen, although I still don't think he's made any effort to pursue it.
He's convinced himself that his life is terrible and will never get better. All he ever does is rant and complain about it, and then call people "shallow" etc. when they don't want to hear it. He seems to think he's some kind of enlightened savant and that he's figured life out, and everyone else is just "sheeple."
"Physically" his life is actually pretty decent: he has a job, has a fairly wealthy family (who he hates), and is in good physical health (as far as I'm aware). I know these things don't necessarily make someone happy, but it does seem like he's trying hard to find things to complain about.
He always seems to have a multitude of excuses ready for when I suggest anything, e.g.:
Me: "Have you considered -thing-?"
Him: "Oh, I can't do that because -some contrived, nonsense excuse-."
Him: "I tried that, but it didn't work, so it's pointless." AKA "I made a half-hearted attempt and gave up at the first sign of difficulty."
He seems to expect things to just go well for him by default without him applying any effort, and when they inevitably don't, he complains about how life is unfair.
Part of me wants to be brutally honest with him; of course he's going to drive people away if he's constantly negative - who wants to listen to that all the time? That doesn't mean they're shallow or selfish; if anything he's being selfish by expecting people to listen to that. I also think he's got some unrealistic expectations about what he thinks life should be like, and he's just going to be stuck in a cycle of perpetual disappointment when reality doesn't live up to them.
He's just come back to me with yet another rant about how he hates everything after I tried being positive and offering suggestions. At this point I don't really know what to do or say; it's clear he's not listening to me (or anyone) and seems to want to to wallow in his depression. I would consider myself to have been depressed a few years ago, but I worked my way through it, went to counselling, read some philosophy and am now in a much better place. So I feel like I can relate and do want to help him, but ultimately he has to want to help himself, and I don't know how to get that through to him, or if I even should. I just don't want him to do something stupid like self-harming (which he's done once before) or suicide.