Monday, June 22, 2009

A Howl at the Moon

How I wish it were possible to meet other people's behavior in kind without having to think of oneself as equally churlish. It irritates me to feel obliged to take the high road, even though I know it's the right thing to do, and the only realistic option, when others are ignorant, unresponsive, unreliable, rude, ungenerous, thoughtless or so wedded to their own agendas that the mere hint of a differing viewpoint pushes them to dizzying heights of defensive anger and uncivilized restatement or to awkward depths of sulky withdrawal.

I would give a lot never again to have to deal with people who, as William James put it, think they are thinking when all they are really doing is rearranging their prejudices. I'm tired of "you scratch my back; I'll refuse to acknowledge you even have a back" behavior. I'm weary beyond belief of people unwilling or unable to keep their promises, people who don't follow up, people who ask and take but don't listen or give, and people who don't mean what they say (or maybe they do, but it doesn't matter because what they say has no apparent influence over what they do).

When did breathtaking inconsiderateness become something basically decent people allowed themselves to indulge in with nary a blush or pang? Get back in touch with me after a decade to request a personal reference, but via a note that makes it plain that you didn't even bother to look at my profile on the LinkedIn/Plaxo/Biznik/Facebook/Twitter route you took to find me and so have no idea that I no longer live in Chicago or that I've written books or have a website. Request that I send you something, then fail to thank me for it or even acknowledge that you received it. Call me when you need something; live the rest of your life in blithe indifference to my existence. Ask me to be your friend, your fan, your follower, to vote for you in some contest, to comment on your blog, to read your book, to attend some event, all with no attempt or intent (or, as far as I can tell, even any awareness that it might be possible) to do the same for me. Yammer on about how relationships are important, engaging is important, generosity is important, then treat everyone else as if they are nothing but numbers who can boost you in some way.

I'd love to be able to make the decision to become a "me first, me only" jackass and still live with myself. The high road is often a lonely, windswept, howling place. I've learned from experience, though, that taking it exacts a lesser cost from me than does grubbing in the crowded mud of ill-mannered, uncharitable, self-absorbed ugliness. But oh how I sometimes wish it were otherwise!


Karen said...

Aw, sorry to hear you've had to deal with so many shit-heads lately. I too often wonder if they're even self-aware enough to recognize these traits in themselves.

Annie said...

as i often say, it would certainly be easier to be a jackass and a dumbass...

Angpang said...

Is it wrong to say I enjoyed this?

I often find myself in this frame of mind so it's nice to have company!

Hope someone restores your faith soon.

Natalie said...

Amen on that Debra!

Nora Lumiere said...

Well ranted, Debra! I so totally agree but, unlike you, I fear I cant always manage the high road. Sometimes I just have a dishful as they say in French and I respond in kind, I lash out, yell and say what I think. And, to tell the truth, it feels terrific. Only if you don't do it too often though.
Maybe it's the internet, or Starbucks or climate change that makes people so bone-crushingly rude.
And the only way to deal with them is to ignore them because wrestling with pigs makes you dirty and the pigs like it. Then one goes home and vents one's spleen on one's blog. Or one's cell phone, or iPod while slurping a Starbucks.