I like the idea of people and am, on the whole, a sociable type although this is complicated by a sizeable pinch of misanthropy. It all depends entirely upon the situation. Too much time in people’s company can induce me to want to kill them. Throw stress into the mix and it’s a ticking time bomb. I am, in the main, a sanguine individual but I do have my moments. As do we all.
As an avid people watcher, I like to observe how they react to different triggers. For example, stress can transform perfectly reasonable people into snapping vicious monsters. Others, however, are the types who rise to the occasion, taking charge and doing all they can to smooth the way for those around them. I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle, whilst I’m not someone who thrives on stress, I try not to take it out on the people around me. We should all maybe remember that, once we have seen the worst in someone, it’s hard to ever see them in the same way again. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are realistic enough to accept that it is our weaknesses that make us human, some traits are just too unappealing to ever come back from.
The strange antithesis of the snappers and snarlers are the people who aren’t able to behave with dignity when things are going well. The individuals who slip oh so easily into complacency and who, at the slightest whiff of success, become tyrannical despots, lording it over the rest of us whose lives are just ticking along or not as the case may be. What these types fail to heed is that they are not going to be riding high forever. And as the saying goes, watch how you treat people on the way up
because you don’t know when you are going to need them as you crash unceremoniously back down again.
A variation of this type of person is the worm that turned. The kind, who knows what it is like to go through tough times but, instead of being humanised by their experience, becomes hardened and compassionless to those who may find themselves down on their luck. It’s as though they are afraid to empathise as this may somehow render them weakened. It’s common to see children who endure bullying go on to bully others. In fact, of all the adults I have met with a tendency to bully, most of them claimed to have been bullied as children, seemingly stuck in some sort of bizarre indefensible cycle.
Another bizarre personality type is the one where, the more the person in question gets to know and presumably like you, the worse they treat you. Instead of the more rational approach of treating the people you are fond of really well, they seem to reserve their better, more charming selves for strangers. As if once they have hooked you in, they no longer have the desire to impress you with any effort. Frankly, I deplore this behaviour and the second someone sees fit to switch off the charm button, I’m afraid that’s the second that I’m out of the door.
Maybe even worse than that are the people who require constant affirmation. It’s so draining to be relentlessly expected to bolster someone’s ego and serve as an audience for their showboating antics. We all understand that showing off and attention seeking is rooted in the need to please and gain approval but it doesn’t stop it from being tiresome. Many years ago, I witnessed a deputy head teacher oust children, who had been rehearsing for months, from a school show to make room for him. Watching him strum his guitar whist warbling “The Streets of London”was excruciating. It didn’t help that the flip side of his coin was weeping in despair at any form of criticism. He was the type of person that you dreaded being alone with because, before you knew it, he would be baring his soul like an oozing open wound.
Obviously, I like to think of myself as more or less perfect and not a type at all. Although I am prone to the odd tantrum if things don’t go to plan and I can sulk with the best of them. I am sure that to people who don’t know me well enough to ignore me, I can seem quite obnoxious at times. Like most people though, on balance, my good points outweigh my bad. I have enough common sense to realise when I am pushing the limits of people’s patience and the self preservation to rein in my annoying traits accordingly. It’s hard to understand then, especially when our good and bad behaviour is constantly mirrored for us in literature, films and TV, why so many people lack the self awareness to check their more unappealing conduct. Basically, I am sure that deep down we are all egotistical, selfish monsters, who would like nothing better than to throw tantrums willy nilly every time we don’t get our own way. Somewhere along the line though, most of us, realise that to do so would result in us becoming social pariahs.
Being thrust back into the world of work, I have found myself swamped by a swarm of humanity. Even after only a couple of months away, I was ill prepared for the array of absurdity and lunacy that is played out before me on a daily basis. Maybe more surprising than the lack of self awareness and people’s inability to function socially, is the fact that very little friction actually ensues as a result of it. Sometimes through gritted teeth, I wonder why people aren’t punching each other in the face on a
All I can deduce is that we humans, on the whole, are a pretty tolerant bunch. And Jim Morrison knew what he was talking about. In fact, I might even go one step further and suggest that most people are strange but some are downright certifiable and should be carted off immediately. See I told you I had a hint of misanthropy about me.