Kantians, Newtonian Physics, and Calling Bullshit
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Forget that there are a lot of non-Newtonian physics that have since been developed.
I’ve been writing a lot about people lately because lately, I’ve been spending more time hearing about people and being around people. There are a lot of good things about people, but they’re always good things because they’re held on a backdrop of some glaringly bad things about people as well.
Some people think that it’s fun to be an asshole, or they actual have sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies to some degree. Some people are just selfish, although to what degree selfishness is just on the same string as actual mental disorders is a case by case thing. You don’t need people like these in your circle of friends.
What I should point out though is that life is really short, and there are a lot of interesting people out there. There are some people who we should probably stick to because of what we owe them. That means sometimes putting up with a lot of bullshit and a lot of abuse.
But there are limits.
As a general rule, I think communication is important. We need to make sure everyone knows what everyone is thinking. Passive aggressiveness? That’s a bullshit approach for people who want to be stuck in bullshit relationships.
If someone does something wrong by you, and they do it over and over, you have only two viable options: help them correct their behaviour, or cut them out of your relations. It’s really that simple.
Correcting their behaviour involves, first of all, being strong enough to call the person on their bullshit. It means treating people as responsible people who are capable of rationalising their choices– you are essentially asking them to find a way to make the right choices for your relationship to continue.
Cutting them out? Well, that option is pretty simple in theory. But we’re weak– we often go back to people who have wronged us because we like particular “redeeming features” and don’t have enough self-esteem to think that we can find new relationships who are overal better packages. We settle for table scraps with a bit of good seasoning on it.
When someone does wrong by you– give them the chance to save face. Let them know that what they did was not cool. Give them the chance to be in a good relationship with you, whether it as your lover, friend of colleague. If you can’t get all the bonus niceties? Then you’ll have to downgrade to progressively more and more utilitarian relationships.
Do not baby people. Do not make excuses for the bad behaviour of others because they live in this or that context, or were raised this or that way, or had this or that bad break– you’re not doing them any favours by being one more person who wasn’t a true enough friend to point out that they’re being a dick.
I have decided that I’m not longer going to put any efforts into hanging out with [TheCaptain]. Yes, TheCaptain was one of my main studygroup mates, the other being [DilligentB]. But he’s been super unreliable about every situation where we’ve ever tried to arrange social things with him.
He’s a serial “flaker,” someone who gives you little or no warning of when they’re not going to show up. He’s the sort of person who says “Yeah, sure! I’ll be there!” but then leaves you hanging. And after that, there is no attempt to reschedule on his part.
His epidemic lateness to events that he does show up at was to the point where when he proposed a lunch once, I flat out refused because I knew he’d never make it on time and I’d just miss my lunch break waiting for him. Turns out that the other people who did meet him for lunch ran into just that problem.
The latest episode was a dinner party I was going to organise so that we could all catch up with him after his semester in Asia. Essentially, the even was organised for his benefit. Surprise surprise– he flaked on the event that was organised for him.
I will admit that a large part of the reason why I even hang out with him is because it’s more or less mutually beneficial for school work. But I’d like to think that, in addition to being one of the major forces for him ever even making it through law school to begin with, we could also be friends. Turns out that he’s not really friend material.
He’s the kind of person who is so bad at keeping his word that the next time I see him at some social event and he volunteers a “I’d love to!” I’ll call his bullshit in public.
Fundamentally, the person who flakes or who shows up late is being disrespectful of the importance of your time. Everyone has priorities in life– and it’s not necessarily a full tilt race, but if I am going to carve out time in my schedule to enjoy doing nothing with you, then you better show up, and you better show up on time. Is that too much to ask?
Do society a favour. The next time someone flakes on you or is late? Make sure they know the error of their ways.