Friday, July 13, 2012

Me Now, Me First, Me Only: The attitude basically sucks.

I'm over it. I'm just over it. I keep thinking that I need to just sit down, shut up, and let everyone else duke it out, but I'm just pissed as hell.

What is wrong with our society that people are hurt by others and it's systematically thought of as okay? What is wrong when people who need help are routinely told they need to take care of themselves? What is wrong when returning veterans end up on the street? What is wrong that when a woman is raped, the police often look to see what she did to deserve it? Was she wearing "slutty" clothes? Was she behaving in a flirtatious manner? Come on! Haven't we learned yet that rape is a crime of violence and not sexuality?

What is wrong with people that we (as a society) regularly abuse children and animals? Even one child or animal abused is one too many. Yet, we hurt those who are defenseless and most need our protection. Is that we feel helpless on some level? Are we angry that we weren't protected? Is the "me first, me now, me only" attitude so pervasive that we step over someone lying in the street and pretend that they aren't even there?

There are many levels to this bizarre narcissistic apathy. And maybe it is that I live in the Washington DC area and there are too many people in too small a space. And maybe it's that the political wheeling and dealing climate has insinuated itself into every aspect of life in this area and that's why people are so rude, only seem to care about their own needs, and don't appear to give a crap about others. Don't get me wrong. I know there are people out there who try and try hard to help. But their voices are quieter, if not silent. They don't tend to toot their own horns and so we don't hear about them. And we certainly don't often give them credit for their selfless acts of quiet heroism.

We hear about the crap and we witness it every day. Heck, just try and drive around the DC Beltway and you'll see plenty of evidence of the "Me Now, Me First, Me Only" paradigm. It's disgusting but you can see it happen again and again.

So, what's to be done? What can each one of us do in this strange narcissistic climate in which we find ourselves? Do we just swallow the bile that comes up when one more person is rude or mean or nasty or cruel? Do we step in and take the chance that we ourselves will get attacked? What if we are the ones being attacked?

The University of Michigan just released the results of a study on how to release anger. They talked about stepping back and pretending to be a fly on the wall so we can release our anger. This whole study was apparently about how to deal with anger in the workplace and they wanted people to have tools in their toolbox that would let them not express their anger and instead calm it down so they wouldn't get in trouble at work. To me, that is a slow, insidious poison. And it perpetuates the idea of worrying more about keeping your head down than demanding respect for your efforts, contributions, and achievements.

Hell, I say, anger can be powerful tool.

What if, instead of swallowing our anger, we told it like it is? What if we stood up and said what we're really thinking? Sure, there would be consequences, but what are the consequences to our psyches if we don't express our feelings? What do we do to ourselves if we allow others to walk all over us?

Is there a middle ground here? Should we even try to walk it?

I've always believed that our emotions sit on a pendulum. They rock to extremes and if we give them enough time, they will settle out somewhere in the middle. I'm starting to wonder if that is the best for us or if that's just the most expedient way to keep our heads down and not make waves? And isn't that what we are often told about the workplace? Don't get in trouble. Don't make waves. Do what you're told. As a worker, I am always free to leave (and have) but I still have to pay for my living expenses and that creates a real fork in the road. Do I swallow my anger so I can keep my job or do I tell it like it is and perhaps wind up out on my butt?

It's something to ponder.


  1. This wouldn't let me post the long winded epic I had written, so it went on your facebook.

    Go see Spiderman and check out the Avengers (Hulk, smash)... that sums it up.

    These iconic stories are written by the nerds, the geeks, the bards of now. they show us the path. Sometimes you need top unleash the inner Hulk... in the right direction. And sometimes you need to wear the mask... and kick butt in the dark, swinging wildly from your web.