Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let's face it, we're shallow (well, you are)

I spend quite a bit of time guessing about how human beings behave; those close to me, those I work with, and sometimes those I hardly know.
I know it is an absolute waste of time, yet I find myself pressing my ear to the world of men and trying to figure out what the hell motivates people to be so incredibly stupid most of the time?

Context and perspective is important, and obviously the smaller your world, the more inexplicable your behaviour to an outside observer. Thus if your world is about the size of your own organism, behaviour becomes increasingly nuts.

One of the incidental things that got me thinking about this was an email forwarded to me by someone I was in touch with. The interesting thing was the irony - I had sent about two or three paragraphs with a few observations and statements. My friend sent one short sentence. I received two curt sentences in response, and my friend several paragraphs of non-solicited text? It's no mystery - me and the person had not much in common; a color difference for one. And I am not rampaging here, saying she was evil. I am just saying as a measure of our average behaviour we are shallow. All of us. We spend more time, dedicate more effort to those we know, those we are attracted to, and those we feel like being associated with, than anyone else.

Unfortunately, this is also the reason why we sometimes find our lives never change. Because we keep looking in the same direction, we keep responding to the same sorts of people, we continually ignore the sets of signals we've programmed ourselves to be meaningless. But nothing is meaningless. Everything matters. We just have to prioritise what is less important, and therein lies the rub.

Imagine what it is like to be me. To see meaning in everything, and at times, every one. And take that, and add it to the experience of living a in a world where people attempt to strip everything of meaning. It only means something - for most - if they like it. And the contempt for something not understood is chronic. What happened to childlike curiosity?

Anyway, I accept this. It is the average of the human condition, and I am not going to kick and rail against it. But accepting it doesn't mean I do the same, that I personally endorse it.

This morning on the way to work a vehicle insisted on creeping along the edge of the lane my line of vehicles was in. He had to squeeze so tightly his mirrors were close to brushing mine. After advancing a little, I found he was ahead of me, and I didn't want to drive further forward because he was just too close for comfort. Then the next thing this guy swims in front of me, after squeezing me out. A short while later the road widened and I got behind him; hooted, pointed, and shook my fist at him.

The message was this: you drive dangerously close, you squeeze me out of my own line of traffic, and then you arrogantly profit from it. Don't do that again - it puts me in danger, and it's a reckless way to behave. The very next moment, the traffic light turned green and with half a vehicle space now open, the Merc on my left dived into the small space between me and Mr. Asshole. Incredibly, the Merc must have heard me hoot at the driver on his left, and he then executed almost a carbon copy of it. And what does it achieve? 3 metres, and less than a second in total traffic time. Stupid people!

At the intersection itself I allowed some space in case the lights went red and traffic on the other side stopped moving - I didn't want to block the traffic flow. Now a constant stream of chancers streamed through amber, then red lights, not allowing me - who had right of way - to get across, and basically changing the situation from me being considerate to their greedy snatching of opportunity, thereby stranding me in a converse traffic flow.

What is the moral of the story? Greed is good until greed is bad. When it is bad it is quick sick. And the sickness spreads. Your shallowness will come back to haunt you. Well, it already is. This life you have is the life you deserve. A bunch of rats squriming along a dirty alley.

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