Is It About You? – Elaina – 4/23/15

11173601_10200506952871897_689594775_nIs It About You?

April 23, 2015

Dear Reader,
She proclaims to the world, or at least to those who still listen, “I’m a bitch.” She further pontificates by asking if you’d rather be happy or if you’d rather be right, because obviously, you can’t be both if she’s part of it. She claims her shrink told her it’s the “change of life,” and it’s not her fault she feels this way. What do you mean you don’t want to hang out with her anymore? She has a medical excuse for her behavior. You have to accept it and her.

He proclaims to the world, or at least to those who still listen, “I’m an asshole.” He proceeds to explain, or rationalize, that if you know this about him, you can’t expect anything different. As a matter of fact, you expect too much from him if you hope he’ll behave differently. He warned you, and why, for God’s sake, would you not hang around and subject yourself to more? He told you he is an asshole, so he’s excused. It’s your problem that you don’t accept his behavior, not his for acting the way he does.

Ugh! What is it with people who think by making these proclamations they are excused from any repercussions from their assholeness or their bitchiness? (for simplicity sake, from this point forward, asshole will be used as a gender neutral term)  More importantly, why do they expect people to hang around and accept their shitty behavior? I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to walk a mile in their shoes, figure out what it is they might be going through, and offer a helping hand. However, there comes a time when enough is enough. The surprising part, to me at least, is the butt-hurt response when you’ve decided you’re done. The tables turn and you find you’re the one who’s asshole because you decided you’ve had enough.

I wonder how these self-proclaimers feel justified behaving the way they do. I watch the people who make excuses for them, or worse, laugh with them, and I picture this void. They’ve emptied their consciences, their souls, and their sense of decency until they no longer empathize or sympathize with the rest of humanity. They talk a good talk and will tell you stories of all their good deeds, but did they really do what they say they did? Did they help because now someone is beholden to them?

Part of my fascination with the self-proclaimers is the increase in announcements I’ve noticed over the past few years. I wonder if it’s an age phenomenon; the older they get, the less tolerant they are of others’ antics. They proclaim they are an asshole or a bitch as a way to excuse their responses when faced with the stupidity of others. Maybe it’s a “my age” thing. Perhaps I’ve grown old enough and weary enough to accept I don’t need everyone to like me. Self-respect dictates I remove myself from the company of assholes and when I do, it’s like holy water being sprinkled on the devil. Their tempers sizzle.

I’d lay odds the internet played a role in this. We spend more and more time behind a screen and not enough time face to face. Even when we are in physical contact, the nature of our technological culture has formed a rift in our sense of what it means to be human. We’ve become inured to vulnerability and view it as a weakness. We adopt personas of strength and competence in lieu of our reality. People want to be seen as strong and capable, and somehow that has been translated into this need to announce one is an asshole or a bitch. When I see these proclamations, I want to ask, why can’t kindness and empathy be signs of strength rather than this brusque apathy you seem to thrive in?

I often wonder if the recession had an impact on the number of assholes who claim they exist today. I know the recession hit my family hard and devastated many others. Perhaps the surliness is a byproduct of having lost a home, a pension, or a profession. The sense of insecurity that still exists in the marketplace may have led to this feeling of self-preservation. “If I don’t care about you, then I can undercut your performance and be secure in my job.” Saying “I’m an asshole” is armor, protecting the individual from censure. They expect to be exempt from our outrage because they forewarned us. We should have known. I’m not sure what the solution is, but the lack of kindness bothers me. Worse, the expectation, the demand, for us to be kind to them and accept their behavior, even when they’ve just dumped on us, sends me over the edge.

Now, some of you may be nodding your head because you know these people. Like me, you have become angry with their expectations to be held exempt from consequences brought on by their behavior. Or, you might be wondering if I’m writing this about you. Does it matter? Obviously you have some level of self-awareness if you think it might be. Perhaps you should think about it and make some changes, or maybe not. After all, you already told us you were an asshole. Why would we expect any different?

To read more of our letters, click on The Path!

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