04-20-10 - Life

One of the shittiest things you can do is to dump on someone's happiness. Happiness is rare and difficult, and often involves lots of work to build up to it. When somebody finds a new hobby that is making them really happy and they always want to tell stories about it at lunch ("a funny thing happened last weekend at the model airplane field...") you just have to suck it up and feign interest and be a good listener. When somebody buys a new toy (like an iPad) you have to go along with the after-purchase show-off euphoria and do the proper oohs and ahs and feign jealousy. If you think that what they're doing or buying is actually awful and a waste of time, just shut the fuck up and keep it to yourself.

Similarly with events - if someone asks you out to do something, and they are clearly enjoying it but you are not - be a fucking good sport and try to get in the spirit and at least feign moderate happiness. Let them enjoy their time, don't make yourself into a distraction and annoyance by griping or wandering off or whatever. When you agree to go out with someone you implicitly agree that if they like it and you don't, you will go along with it. It's not that hard. And just tolerating it while obviously showing your annoyance and saying "I'm just here for you, let me know when we can leave" does not count as going along with it, it's still shitty.

Recently I've been thinking about this party I went to at the top of the condo tower on First Hill. My date at the time made me go despite my apprehension. As I expected, it was fucking awful, just a mob of people I didn't know with nothing to talk about, no dancing, no games, just stupid fucking boring people drinking and chit chatting about nonsense. It was excruciating, and like the dick that I am, even though I was "being a good sport" in my mind, I made it abundandtly clear with my body language and constant wandering off that I was not happy. The funny thing is that many months later, the horrible party is actually one of the more memorable social events that I've attended in the last few years. It gives me something to talk about, the condo tower it was in is the tallest building around and the party was right at the top so it's a unique experience. It's weird this need to "do something" that we have; when I haven't been out much I get this feeling of stir craziness, that I'm wasting my life, you get depressed without knowing why exactly, then you go out to some event and it's just awful the whole time and you can't wait to leave, and then months later it is the thing you did that you remember, not all those days when you actually were happy and just stayed home or went for a bike ride or whatever it is that you actually enjoy.

People who suck at things are a real problem. In theory, it doesn't actually matter whether people are good at things or not - we put a lot of our self worth into our "skills" (I am so fucking great because I'm good at X), but in reality when I'm hanging out with someone I could care less about their skills. What actually matters is their attitude and emotional intelligence and sense of humor and kindness and so on, that is what actually makes you a good person to be with. But in reality, people who suck at things are just a fucking drag. The problem is that *they* care that they suck. The result is that they are often in a funk because they screwed something up, or they are super afraid of being judged, or they have big insecurity problems. The result is that they bring you down because they don't want you to be so much better at them, they force you to hide your own skills. For example, I really don't mind if someone cooks for me and makes mediocre food; what makes it fun or not is their attitude, their conversation, their enthusiasm, in fact if they are excited about their food that is way more important than whether it is actually good or not (the converse is people who are really awesome cooks but act all humble and self-deprecating about it which is just annoying and unpleasant). However, that almost never works out because they imagine you are thinking horrible things about them and their food. Similarly with playing board games or sports with someone; when I toss a frisbee with someone, I don't care how great they are, yeah it's better if you can actually make some throws and catches, but enthusiasm and good attitude and hustle are way more important. The problem is that people who suck get down on themselves and get in a funk and then it's just annoying to be with them.

People who can suck and not care about it are very rare and very cool. In fact that is one of my great unattained goals for myself.


Gilles said...

I am sure you helping someone with this. Thank god, I am past this point. Actually if they feel weak and insecure, you can score a lot points to make them feel good about themselves but i am sure you figured this out too. Not being a jerk has some serious ROI, let the word out :)

MH said...
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MH said...
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castano said...

> you have to go along with the after-purchase show-off euphoria

Honestly, I don't know what to think about that. While I agree that being an ass doesn't help anybody, if someone close to me is seeking happiness in consumption I will first and foremost feel sorry about him.

Consumerism is basically a cultural pattern, reinforcing it may provide some short term benefits, but in the long term, challenging the cultural norms is not just the right thing to do, but the only option if we are to prevent the collapse of human civilization.

old rants