Thursday, July 03, 2008

Man, some weeks you feel like a total screwup. So far, knock on wood, it's only been a couple of areas of my life, but major ones. Still, not good. Need to go see family, and I'm considering planning a trip up to Mount Pleasant, to see some old friends that I haven't seen in almost a decade, recently returned.

Got an offer to go see a friend's band play tomorrow night, seriously considering it but the cover may be steep.

My apartment complex has in many ways come together with speed chess tournaments down by the lake until all hours of the night. It's pretty awesome, but definitely an unexpected turn of events - about 15 or 16 different core players will wander in and out, taking places in line, and then another couple of dozen will sometimes stop by. It's a fixture down there after the sun goes down and the heat isn't defying all reason.

Writing stalled, planning on returning to it though.

A woman I sort of knew got fired from her job today. It was sad in a way, she was terrible at what she did, and apparently her coworkers all knew it, and she's not a very pleasant or tolerable person...but I think that nearly everyone she worked with despised her, way beyond the sum total of all of those qualities. The impression I get is that it was sort of an unconscious group dynamic, like a fast immune-rejection of something. She wasn't ever going to be good at her job or fun to hang out with, but rather than ignore, avoid, and dismiss tolerantly like mobs do with most social dysfunctionals, it seemed she was noticed and reacted to. Without any individual performing any action, a social dynamic with a strong preference toward isolating/containing the outsider sprung up. A little disturbing, though I've seen it before. A couple of individuals apparently did things to further pick on the woman - moving things around on her desk or something, not very cool given the circumstances. I have a hard time with this - the woman was not nice, did her job so poorly that the apathetic burned out people were actually forced to admit at least *some* standard of doing the job had to be met. She was abrasive, argumentative, had a sense of entitlement, and decorated everything in her workspace with toys and drawings based on her favorite science fiction characters (which all together began to be fairly unsettling after only a few seconds of looking at it, I don't know exactly how). She really rang all the "wrong" centers in the brain, triggered some unconscious prejudice that I can't quite put my finger on, except that in some way that I cannot defend or explain at all, she set off danger signals all over the back of my mind. "This one will draw the lightning to you if you stand too close. This one will attract the predators," that sort of thing. The only thing about her getting fired is...we made her. Us, society, our culture, people like you and me that never *ever* would mean to do such a thing. I didn't know her well, and I avoided her (to my shamed relief) but made a point to be warm and friendly when cornered with a conversation. I know how certain traits are reinforced, though, how Terminal Nerd Syndrome develops. I think every nerdy person that managed to escape (at least a little) being the person that makes everyone uncomfortable by their very presence even though everyone likes them in the abstract, or one on one. When the mob (who, thankfully, did not have a voice or a role in the eventual decision to fire the woman I am told - that much, at least, was done by the book and in response to legitimate failures of responsibility on her part) finally won their "victory" and ejected the 'outsider', this was no victory - it was the same pattern that had shaped her in every quality that these people found objectionable, played out again. It was a reinforcement, a vindication of all the things they disagreed with in her. They weren't fighting, and certainly won no victory against, these things in her and in the universe - they were making them *right*. Cause you know, if that's how "people" treat someone, maybe there isn't much point trying to participate and learn how not to be remarkably offputting. This is a crowd of mostly nerds and recovering nerds, and I've noticed that like rabid ex-smokers a crowd of former nerds are an insanely cool-obsessed and posturing lot if they aren't careful. I think in many other social settings she may have stood a chance, but among the self-hating nerds she was a big red bullseye on them by her very presence, and at any time the cosmic wedgie and swirlie squad was going to step in and put them back in their social place, stripping them of all their "cool" and stuffing them back into the cosmic locker.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Isaac...Hope all is well.


7/09/2008 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Sarah Chapman Long said...

Hi, Isaac! Elizabeth told me you were easy to find on the net. She was right.

7/22/2008 11:35 AM  

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