Thursday, December 20, 2012

A problem that will always exist

What would the world be like if we no longer worried about hurting one another's feelings? If we all had some kind of barrier to feeling vulnerable to the remarks of our peers, to take things in stride and just stop worrying about the pretenses of social interaction. What if there were no pretenses?

I've always had trouble comprehending and handling other people's judgment of me. As someone who has grown up being excessively emotionally sensitive, it's hard to separate what's meaningful from what's frivolous, and often I forget that people don't always share their opinions decidedly just because it's valuable. Some people are just argumentative. They like their voices to be heard even if what they have to share isn't quite necessary. Sometimes the emotional impact they try to elicit is a feeling of failure in others.

I can't quite understand the motives there, but it's something I've encountered in many a person in my life, which has made it only harder to weed through the commentary and banter that is worth listening to, and the kind that is just created for the sake of tension and excitement.

Because people truly thrive off of passively aggressively destroying others. If they can do it anonymously, then it becomes an obsession. This isn't true of everyone of course, but in every society there are the people who make circumstances slightly less comfortable. The burglars, the murderers, the unequivocally mean for no apparent reason.

I hate these kinds of people because I can never really come to terms with their intent. Do people really plan to insult others? Is that why they become so candid and rude, potentially sacrificing the feelings of whom they're interacting with? Or is that just a by-product of short-sightedness?

I'd like to point out that I'm not addressing anyone in particular here. There is no single person in my mind who I am considering while I write this. This is really a general message to all bullies who have ever come into my life and passive-aggressively tried to ruin it.

The reason I write about it is because somewhere in the deeply sadistic and not-so-prevalent part of my heart, I wish I had the guts to be like them.

So often I've found myself in situations where someone needs to be told that what they're doing is hurtful. These very situations, in fact, often arise when I'm interacting with the kind of bullies I've just spent several paragraphs addressing.

It is in these situations that I start to realize how very unlike those people I am. In my head, I develop complaints on others. I have hard feelings. But I don't let myself run away with my feelings. Not because I don't feel they're valid, but because I have a filter that keeps me from wanting to hurt others. I care too much for being non-confrontational that I end up constantly confronting myself with the question of whether my thoughts are worth sharing. Are they too controversial? If so, then maybe no one needs to hear.

But there's something to be said about constructive criticism. Most vitriol that gets spread between people who don't know each other all too well has nothing to do with bettering the other person. It serves just to point out their faults, to make the arguer feel like they have the higher ground when they don't. Then at the end of what is usually (at least in my case) a one-sided argument, there is a feeling of inadequacy in the victim. This just creates more tension and sometimes inspires another one-sided argument.

This is assuming that both people have the ability to be argumentative. Otherwise they become like me: sad little hermit crabs retreating into their shells at the first sign of trouble.

I've come up with defense mechanisms throughout my life. When I was younger I used to let my mind wander if I was being yelled at. Nowadays I spontaneously burst into tears and have to excuse myself to my privacy to get a hold of my feelings. I don't do these things with any intention of getting attention from others, though sometimes it may feel and appear that way.

What I really want is just to be as strong-willed as the people who don't worry about hurting others' feelings, about breaking the societal cues of decency.

When I think about it again, though, having no filter would be a terrible fate. At the very least, it would create many enemies for me. That's something I've never wanted.

I realize now what a strange argument this is for someone who wants to be an arts and entertainment critic to make. But this is where I separate my thoughts, and realize how they come full circle. The anonymity of a publication - even if my name is attached - is provided by the scope of that publication. And as a writer I feel that my right to an opinion is somehow exempt and protected by the fact that I'm not addressing any particular person and I am speaking on behalf of a greater organization. Maybe that actually makes me just as bad as the trolls who have constantly hounded me - in my life, on my blog and otherwise.

Still, I like to think I have less disdain for mankind than the average critic and the average overly and overtly-opinionated person I encounter in my daily life. I guess I can comfort myself with the fact that I've had these thoughts at all. Self-reflexivity is better than ignoring the problem. And goodness knows it's one that will always exist.

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