Manipulation Nation

Pulling on heartstrings is nothing more than a nice way of saying manipulation. Emotional appeal is a logical fallacy, but worse it’s a betrayal of basic interpersonal trust. To use our feelings of compassion and concern against us is to use and mistreat us as human beings. If the statement or action was valid in the first place, then it wouldn’t need anyone’s feelings to be triggered to gain sympathy.

When we fall prey to manipulation we betray ourselves as we’ve been betrayed by the perpetrator. But worst of all even when we know that, the feelings that have been brought up still continue to cloud our judgment afterwards. Anyone who wants a desired outcome is more than capable of working toward it without resorting to guilt trips or similar tactics. If they wanted it so bad they’d find solutions and use those, not their “friends”.

And that’s a big part of manipulation – using the other person’s closeness as a tool against them. It’s bad enough to exert control in this way at all, rather than work with the other person honestly. But it’s worse that this behavior breeds the exact opposite tendencies as intended; emotional distance, distrust and resentment. Because that’s what all happens when one circles back to realizing they’ve been “had” by an emotional pirate out for some treasure that they pillage from those who have rightfully earned it.

Pirates are romanticized, as are emotional manipulators. Machiavelli wasn’t the only one to write it down, let alone shed any light on the monstrous practice; it’s been immortalized and set in stone long before all of us. Since people had feelings others have capitalized on that, manufacturing ways to use it for the user’s benefit.

Like drug pushers and pimps, corrupt politicians or more, we can’t keep shaking our fingers at people who know better. It’s up to us not to be fooled instead of crying in our beer any longer.

We don’t have to harden ourselves to the world though, and we can retain our emotional pliability as we move forward. We can reject controlling tactics without losing hope or our spirits. It takes compartmentalization and rationalization etc., but of course all that’s easier said than done. We need to maintain our internal tools and use them to make sure we evaluate our experiences with critical thinking. It’s alright for us to refrain from judgment long enough to take the temperature of a given situation.

We do have the time to decide what we do, and we do have the freedom to follow through.

 

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Are you keeping it?

A pregnancy has been announced! Congratulations are in order!

Or are they?

We all have an unspoken, unwritten, unheard of, yet practically concrete cultural assumption of the following : if the pregnancy is public, she’s “keeping” the baby – meaning she’s not planning to abort it. It seems a safe assumption for all – why would she announce it if that weren’t the case?

I have discussed culture and assumptions in plenty of posts, but this one assumption seems pretty universal across cultures. There are still some overarching similarities and middle grounds between us all, as we are all still human.

But if there’s anything on a broadly human cultural level that I wish I could change it’s this assumption about pregnancy announcements. Whether or not it’s comfortable, I wish we could all get to a place of hearing about a pregnancy and casually asking “are you going to keep it?”

Of course, no one wants to kill people, or be seen as a killer. But we all know that abortion happens for important reasons, and the option doesn’t ever go away – legal approval or not. Also, we should all more carefully consider the consequences of bringing a new child into the world as opposed to adopting, or choosing to better the lives of children from a role outside of direct parenthood.

When we get to a place of being able to see abortion as a real option, we can lower medical complications from improperly performed procedures and more adequately provide appropriate medical consideration to someone truly who needs it. We will also reduce public misunderstanding and fear, leading to increased support in building healthy communities that thrive because they aren’t shameful of ostracizing members of their own community who are only trying to prevent a child from living in unsuitable conditions, or perishing in them.

Everyone will feel better, if only we can come to a place of understanding and acknowledging that the decision not to give birth is just as viable an option, if not more, as bringing a child into an unstable situation. And that’s the real reason women have abortions – because they are choosing not to bring a child into conditions that are not appropriate for children. Whether there is not enough physical or mental support, or anyone involved is unprepared or unwilling, or if any number of other factors apply, ending a pregnancy is a human right. Regardless of the reason for ending a pregnancy, we as a society do not have the right to force a person to carry a child and give birth.

Choosing not to give birth should be seen as a healthy decision that helps maintain a strong existing society. Children are great, but not only are there more than enough people to propagate the species going forward, but there are too many to comfortably support as it is. George Carlin was in good company when he said that often, those who oppose abortion also oppose education, physical and emotional support, and much needed services for the children they claim to want to protect.

Until we have a viable system to support the entire human population on earth without suffering, we need to encourage all methods of easing the suffering of those here now, and the suffering of those who would be brought into existence going forward.

That means using birth control and abortion openly, honestly, and with the support of our peers. If people feel like they can reach out and touch a woman’s body without asking, yet feel like they can ask whether she will bare her breasts to feed in public, if she will have a vaginal birth, or “where the father is” – let alone asking after how she personally feels – then it’s certainly not too invasive to ask if she’s keeping it to begin with.

It’s already an option weighing on her mind. Let her know you’ll support whatever she decides. Then do it, which means 7 years down the road, you support her child or you support her travels down a hard road.

So ask her now, while she’s at the crossroads – are you going to keep it? I got you either side you go.

The resentment encampment

I pitched a tent and settled in. I licked my wounds and I lived there so long my flag’s but tattered rags.

I wanted someone to come find me in there. I didn’t need you to save me, but I wanted an invitation elsewhere. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere else though, so I sat in my tent feeling sorry for myself more.

Every time I tried to imagine a place I’d have the right to be, all I could think of is the populace there had already rejected me.

I don’t have enough anything to claim as my own, not even ignorance which could be a nice excuse if only it was mine.

But I don’t get to hide anywhere in this wasteland without borders, because I still don’t belong anywhere except with the hoarders.

So we sit in our corners respecting each other’s spaces while inside and out we still seethe with rage. And since there’s nowhere to put it but on others our brothers, it drips out of us, resentment thick as molasses… it’s been concentrated down to a reduction so dense it’s become a solid, but at least it’s less of a mess now.

Carrying our densely packed resentment packages is tiring at best. I wish I could set more of it down next to me and take some time to figure out where I’m headed. I used to know, and my resentment I’d stow for a rainy day when I had nothing better to do. I’d pack it around waiting for just the right moment to pull it out in a sullen display of grim satisfaction.

Like a cigarette after dinner we can call it satisfaction, but that’s flawed logic at best and I know that.

I’m aware that my resentment is full of radiation, harming me and everything around it. But it’s so hard to let go of the warm cuddly glow and the road well traveled; the devil I know.

It’s too much now to bear yet I can’t seem to tear my eyes from this train wreck of emotional despair. Resentment’s been friends when no one else came around, but I know now its companionship is quite hollow. I wish there was something better to fill up and distract me, but I guess I’ll have to settle for relief from its talons.

I can’t lean on resentment like I once did so often, but maybe that’s alright after all… maybe resentment is getting tired too. It can lay down and rest now. I’m flying on from its cocoon that incubated my younger self when I needed it to help me be strong enough to suffer, before I realized I always was and that I don’t need to add to suffering unless we take it in that older context of meaning my going through something and allowing its existence without resistance.

I am a suffragette now.

 

Censorship

I recently read an article about how certain websites create and disseminate a large body of inflammatory work – specifically racist and other hatred-based themes. They discussed the nature of growth of this type of material when people are exposed to and share these memes, and likened it to biological growth, which is why the term “viral” is pretty apt in describing how this information is distributed.

For a moment, just a moment, a thought actually surfaced that I wanted to find a way to remove these offensive messages that I do not agree with – because I have decided they are amoral and destructive, not to mention distasteful and clearly not evidence based. For a split second I was willing to censor information to protect people I had deemed in need of my protection from those messages.

I couldn’t believe it, and I immediately stopped myself to re-examine my own thought process. No, I don’t actually want to censor anyone, or keep anyone else from information based on my own judgment of its content. I had a moment, but then remembered that all I want to do is ensure that people have complete, unfettered access to the skill of critical thinking and the freedom to use it, as well as the ability to truly make their own decisions. I need to be satisfied with that, and let people make their life choices because I can’t do it for them, like it or not.

Sure I wish everyone behaved in a compassionate manner and offered each other respect, but I can’t control them all.

But beyond that, I can’t rob others of their experience in coming to understandings that certainly were hard won in my case. Whether they are the creator or the recipient of hateful messages, it’s up to each of them to examine what they’re doing and why. It’s up to each of them to determine what they believe is real, and decide what they want to participate in, promote, or reject.

If they don’t look at this same information and come to the conclusion that hatred is more self destructive than outwardly destructive and ultimately not worth the effort, then nothing I do to keep them from this information will matter anyway.