No, I won’t talk about the oh, so popular toxic masculinity or even toxic femininity, which I could talk about a lot, since I’ve had more experience with it. I would like to say upfront that toxic has become one of the most abused words in the vocabulary of many. You don’t like something = it’s toxic and bad for everyone. Well, for me that’s people.
I had a chat with friends the other day, about people and our tolerance of them. I have a friend who has had a tough few months because of the lockdown, because she misses human contact. To me, this is as alien a concept as it would be for her to spend a month with no human interaction and like it. She’s happy now, back to the office. Me, I got thinking how I got from a people pleaser yearning to belong, to have a circle of friends, to the people avoider I am today, only happy to communicate with half a dozen (literally) people.
Naturally, since such a radical change could not result from a fault of mine (because I am faultless, of course), it had to be the fault of everyone else. At least here I was in the trend: blame everyone but yourself about every single thing that’s wrong with your life and the world. It’s the most resilient trend in human behaviour, I’ll have you know. It’s been around for ages.
So, I had my culprit and now I had to dig for the reasons everyone else was my culprit. It didn’t take me long though another friend (a rare new addition to my dirty half a dozen, I’m pleased to say) helped by supplying the word I was looking for. Complainers.
Now, I’ve heard that women tend to be more emotionally intelligent than men and more compassionate. Like a lot of other stereotypical crap this is not true. I can empathise with people suffering from real pain, whatever its nature. What I cannot do is one, not try to find a solution to their problem and two, empathise even a little bit with the complainers.
You’ve seen the type, I’m sure. They have pretty decent lives, nothing too dramatic, in fact, they have every reason to run around happy as puppies. And yet what they actually do is complain about everything. Everything. Instead of appreciating the fact they have a home, a job they don’t hate, a loving family, and all the mental stimulation one may need for complete happiness, they complain about all of these and more. Oddly enough, the people who do go through dramatic events in their lives tend not to complain about them or anything else. These are my people.
You see, it’s not the fact that the complainers complain all the time, which is exhausting when you must communicate with them. It’s the fact that they won’t look for ways to reduce their alleged suffering, even when you politely suggest some to them because witnessing said suffering gives you a headache.
And I’m not the only one who feels this way, in case you were thinking I’m cruel (true) and misanthropic (true). If you’re a Bulgarian or a Romanian living abroad and try to discuss Bulgarian/Romanian politics with Big C he’ll come down on you like two tonnes of bricks. His rule: you don’t live here, you don’t discuss the politics. I disagree, of course, but there it is. We’re a family of people-allergic misanthropes, what can I say. But we have a VERY sociable daughter. She must be our punishment.
Anyway, it seems that the road from people pleaser yearning to belong to people shunner yearning to be left alone took, above all, aging, which is why I never complain about age and growing old. I welcome it. Well, most of it. I don’t exactly welcome the ankle pains when I forget to warm up before my daily exercise.
It also took social networks, my pet peeve, if something as monstrous as a social network can be a pet peeve. Every place that attracts a lot of people quickly turns into the mental equivalent of a cesspool, and one that hasn’t been emptied for years. It takes a while to notice it (or smell it, if we’re being metaphorical). It took me a few years that I’m not getting back but that’s okay because now I’m in a position to teach Little C how to behave properly on social networks. See? Why is it so hard to see the good in the bad/stinky/horribly stupid?