High school

All y’all acting like you hate drama & you just want everything to be calm, but I have looked into your beady little souls & nearly every last one of you is high school AF…as the high schoolers say.

Don’t even; just stop. You know it. The second someone not in your group loses or messes up, schadenfraude washes over you like warm, buttery caramel down a monkey’s back in a movie I shouldn’t tell you about. 

When your group triumphs, you all high five each other like it was 3rd & goal at the end of the fourth quarter & you won! You won, damm it. You’re number one! You’re number one!

I once watched a group of approximately 40 adults learn something at a party about another person — something that was irrefutably awful enough on its own. But after an hour of discussion, they started finding other things to discuss to further drive home this person’s repugnant nature. “Oh, not only did he kill that girl, but you know I never liked him.”

“Oh, me either. He chewed with his mouth open. Who does that?”

And then the swarm. “OMG, one time? We were at lunch? And he didn’t contribute to the tip.” Stories like this continued for hours.

These were male and female adults between the ages of 37 & 68. And that wasn’t the only time. In fact I’m pretty sure I’m confusing two or three incidents.

Y’all do it online with your values signaling to other kids in your clique. Y’all do it when you tweet mean things at the Real Housewife you’ve never met, but hate (but honestly what the hell is wrong with Brandi Glanville?!). Y’all do it when you wreak havoc at the office trying to find out what happened to Clay in marketing.

And you know what? You never won’t. It’s been hard wired into your brain boxes for 40,000 years. You are tribal & are wired to be so. I can’t even talk about how awful you are to my own tribe, who are, generally speaking, thoughtful intellectuals & philosopher kings, natch. We like David Lynch & rescue cats & college radio even though we’re closer to 50 than 20. And we heart David Bowie (every era, damnit) & utterly despise gossip.

Except David Bowie said, I read somewhere, probably in Vogue or more likely Allure in the early ’90s, that gossip is how the middle classes get their news. It’s empowering. And I don’t fault it for that. In some organizations, it’s the only way anyone learns anything.

This isn’t even a treatise against gossip. If it’s not cruel & you admit your sources are not verified, gossip can be entertaining & helpful. Why yes, that chick is pregnant, & that is why she broke down & started crying in the middle of book club, then ate all the quiche.

The problem is the high school pettiness that is everything now. News, public discourse, and even presidential communication has been replaced with adolescent tomfoolery. Everybody is nasty, & don’t think it just started with President Obvious. Obama threw a whole ton of shade, but people think shade is classier. It’s certainly less obvious.

There are all kinds of mean girls. Some say awful things to your face. And some quietly ruin you from the shadows. They both go to high school, they both post on social media, they all run for office & they’re male & female of every flavour of sexuality the human imagination has recently dreamed up.

It’s popular to be high school. But I never liked high school. My core group of friends were literally the same type of people I like now: college radio listening, David Lynch liking weirdos. The difference now is that I like church people, too. Sometimes, they are also college radio listening, David Lynch liking weirdos. Sometimes they have nothing more in common with me than a love of Christ. And the cool thing about Christ is that He’s generally enough in common to break down tribal thinking.

I know a lot of you who read my stuff don’t care for religion of any kind, & the good news is, you don’t have to follow Christ to stop being a tribal high school asshat. Though I recommend Christ as a short cut through everything that blows. He’s like lemon juice; He brightens the flavour of everything.

But enough stupid cooking-oriented blasphemy. The key to letting go of high school tribalness is to find one thing in common with The Other. That’s it. And I can tell you what several things in common you have with The Other right now, even if you can’t bring yourself to do it.

You, a Neo Nazi, a tranvestite dominatrix, a crochet enthusiast, those people who are into curling, Kanye West, and even people who sell Plexus & essential oils require Earth’s atmosphere to live.

Not one of you is a silicon life force that breathes lava and craps stone. But even with that being, you have one thing in common. Crap. Everybody poops.

The next time you want to plaster somebody behind a wall with your hatred &/or righteous online trolling, imagine  that person with Norovirus. Imagine yourself with Norovirus. You both live in the bathroom & want to die, right? Doesn’t that espouse just a little empathy?

See, this is why I turn to Jesus. If I don’t, it’s all going to be poop.

Paths

There is an incredibly fine line between sociopathy & empathy. Some of you immediately grasp the truth of that sentence. The rest are aghast.

First, to the people who grasp it, I’m sorry. You either distrust anyone who is kind to you, imagining there is an angle, or you are a caregiver of some kind, & you know how you get when you’ve given too much. 

To everyone else, here’s a quick run down of the surface characteristics of a sociopath & an empathetic person.

Sociopaths:

  • Seek to soothe you by identifying with your issue & offering a solution.
  • Are charming & engaging.
  • Appear calm in a crisis, detached from chaos & pain to get things done.
  • Move from one issue to the next without taking energy from the last one with them (let things go).
  • Avoid conflict.

Empaths:

  • Seek to soothe you by identifying with your issue.
  • Engage you.
  • Approach crisis and chaotic energy by matching it and appear to detach when things are done (let things go).
  • Move from one issue to the next with no fluctuation in engagement.
  • Avoid conflict.

These lists seem similar, & they are, but the subtle differences betray the motivation of the sociopathic and the empathetic. The main difference is that the sociopath is self centered, but the empathetic person is other centered.

The sociopath wants something from you. They have studied how normal people like to be received, & they have become masters at gaining your confidence. They’ve learned to be people persons exactly how we learned our times tables: by rote.

The empathetic person wants something for you. They have no idea how normal people work, either, because they feel best when the people around them are content. They can’t ignore pain, & they want it to end. 

Frequently the sociopath is more attractive. They know there is a formula to making others feel important. They make themselves look like someone you want to know, & say things designed to make you feel special.

Empaths are usually unconcerned with appearance & have no idea how to be fake. They sometimes say very awkward things or delve into serious issues without the buffer of small talk. This is incredibly off putting to most humans, who devise a carefully constructed identity for the outer world. There’s nothing wrong with that; it is a survival technique. It’s also a technique the empathetic don’t often learn.

Why isn’t she being funny? you whinge in your head. Ok fine. Let me introduce you to two people.

Tom sees a young attractive woman typing furiously into her phone. He straightens his suit jacket collar & approaches her. “Wow, somebody fucked up.”

She looks up, huffy, then softens slightly at his well coiffed appearance & brushes an errant hair behind her ears. Still, how dare this weirdo interrupt her? “I’m sorry? Did you need something?”

He smiles, embarrassed. “Oh, no, I’m sorry. I noticed you from over there & you just looked so annoyed. I thought What kind of ignorant asshat would piss off this beautiful creature? And I admit I had to find out.”

She blinks up at him for a second and half smiles. “That’s an awful line.”

He rubs the back of his head and looks down, still smiling bashfully. “And you’re smarter than me, too.”

See?! Already half the women reading this are like OMG he sounds dreamy get me one & the men are like “That works?!” & my answer is “If you look like Tom Brady, yes. If you don’t, you will have to work slightly harder. But the technique is the same.”

This is still not funny, KJ. Where is the wackiness I pay good money to see here?

You pay nothing, so screw you. But I will give it to you anyway.

Terry (combonamed after his mother, Teresa, & his dad, Ryan, so his life already started out ridiculous) sees a young attractive woman typing furiously into her phone. He comes over and stands about three feet in front of her. “Hi.”

She looks up huffily, flits her eyes warily over his jacket and t-shirt, then goes back to her phone before saying “Hi.”

He continues to look at her. “Are you ok?”

She looks up again, confused and annoyed. “What?”

“Are you ok? You seem really upset.”

She glares at him & goes back to her phone. “My mother.”

“Ohhh. Is everything ok?”

She looks up. “Who are you?”

“I’m Terry. Your mother loves you. You guys just have a lot of baggage when you communicate. Ok, sorry to bother you. Bye.”

Terry is now either perceived as an intrusive creep (valid, as many Terrys would just secretly pray for this young woman’s happiness & go on with their lives), or as some sort of mystic angel, which he might be. A slovenly mystic angel at a bar, for some reason. But Tom is less likely to be perceived as a creep, because Tom plays the human game.

The human game has rules everybody knows, so they are more comfortable with it. Everybody plays a role & advances according to the dice rolled. People who are good at the human game tend to go pretty far. The unscrupulous ones know how to game the system to their benefit.

The angelic approach (there’s no game) is confusing and weird because it’s like the Spanish Inquisition: nobody expects it. Some people actually react hostilely to someone acting completely outside the rules of the Human Game, even when they are totally benevolent.

Here is your wacky analogy, jerk. You’re playing Clue with Tom & Terry. Tom shows you his cards with a reluctant, play-acted mortification. How dare you be figuring out what I have, his devious winky eyes say. Terry meanwhile is showing you extra cards and skipping his turn so you can go again. 

Immediately register your reaction to Terry’s game play before scrolling down…






This is exactly how you are looking at Terry.

Terry isn’t being fun! You ask Terry “Bro, what the fuck are you doing?” and Terry says “I know it would make you so happy to win!” And you say “Bro, not this way. Not this way.”

And yet, he genuinely wants you to win. And it makes no sense.

And?

Jesus.* 

Thank you for indulging me.

Fin.

*Your angry comments will be mocked. In a loving way.

*Also this is why you hate empaths.


Rape Prevention & Why Y’all Are Idiots

I’m over everybody, on the left & right, everybody talking about rape on Twitter. Not only does it not occur to any of these well meaning hand wringers that every time a survivor even sees the word rape, he/she goes into a tale spin of post traumatic stress, they also tend to miss a major point: that rape is going to happen, & no amount of education, preparation, or prayer is going to stop it.

We are born animals, & we all have animal inclinations. No one is exempt from this, though most people have a rational handle on it. You can call it original sin, you can call it primal instinct, you can call it pure evil. We’re all imperfect, & the only rational defense against evil is to give the less evil the means to defend themselves against it.

Now let me drop some science.

I was part of a graduate psychology study in which we produced 3 films targeted for “high risk” rape inclination populations: college aged men in athletics & fraternities. Due to various statistics & whatnot, these young bucks were considered more likely to commit date rape. Lots of booze, lots of entitlement, high achieving, cultures of permissiveness, yadda yadda.

The 3 films represented 3 modes of changing young men’s thinking about rape. We made all 3 to test which mode increased their aversion to indulging in what the internet would term “rapey” activity.

The first film was meant to develop empathy with potential victims. It showed girls crying, going to counseling, having their sex assault kits run, & even graphic photos of post-assault vaginas. It was brutal. That one had little effect.

The second one had so little measurable effect that I don’t even remember what it was about.

The third was consequence-based. “Here’s what happens if you get caught & convicted for rape.” College & career failure, disappointment of parents, & prison rape were highlighted. We even had a super creepy ZZ Top looking guy talking about fish & young asses. This film had the most discernible effect on post test. We decided this was the one we’d show for those “Don’t rape people” seminars campuses like to have.

Empathy didn’t work. Consequences did. Harsh penalties for rape & the social stigma attached to being labeled a rapist work, kind of, in young men who care about such things.

This of course has zero effect on the sociopath, persons with Antisocial Personality Disorder, & hardened criminals. They don’t give a hot damn about consequences. They don’t care if you’re drunk, old, sick, a child, wearing a burka or even Crocs. They just want to dominate & humiliate weaker persons with sex.

Because they can.

The only way to prevent all rape is to make it so you cannot be raped by anyone. Being armed at all times is an excellent first step. This doesn’t help children, it doesn’t help the mentally ill, it doesn’t help the comatose, infirm, or those who lock their weapon in a safe in a different room than the one they’re in.

Rape, murder, and assault are not going away, ever. Most people have the self control to not attempt any of these violent crimes. So most people should be armed at all times. That’s just life. Laws can only punish, not prevent. Most guns drawn and knives pulled to prevent crime need not even be fired or stabbed, but if you feel you can wow someone with your blackbelt in a martial art, think about how close you want that person.

Should you be unarmed, dig your thumbs into his eye sockets, should thrusting his genitals into his abdomen with your knee fail to yield results.

This of course doesn’t work for the drugged, or those knocked out from behind.

Do you understand now? We cannot prevent all rape, even if armed. But we can prevent a hell of a lot of violent crime by arming most people. Most people are not criminals.