Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Virtual Judging

I've had the feeling all day that there's some kind of momentous realization I was about to reach if only I could get around to thinking about it properly. It made it kind of hard to really focus on anything else. Here's hoping this is it.

I noticed today that there's a lot of phantom judging going on in my life. Whenever I enter any borderline technically halfway social environment - this is especially noticeable at work, which "borderline technically halfway social" is actually an extremely accurate description of - I immediately assume that everybody there is judging me (in secret - in thought and feeling) and proceed to do my utmost to convince them that I'm judging them back. My method is a sort of technically inoffensive extreme nonchalance - a kind of "I am genuinely unaware of your existence." People have actually had occasion the past year to deny being offended by this, but I don't believe them, which is actually strangely arrogant, but what can I do. 'Tis the truth.

The point - presumably there is a point - is that neither of us actually gives a rat's arse. They have better things to do with their time than surreptitiously considering my faults and merits, and I am indeed aware of their existence - perhaps a little over-conscious of it in fact - but I have nothing against it, and I'm not holding up any standards they're not meeting. And yet, my life is completely dominated by the aura of judgement. What - as they say - the fuck?

But we're not at the momentous realization yet. We're merely noting with some befuddlement that I would choose to imagine into existence what by most people under most circumstances would be considered a disadvantageous situation.

The rationale, I suspect, is that if you see judgement where it doesn't exist, that saves you the trouble of ever having to actually meet it. The self-wrought atmosphere of hostility and fear prevents you from ever foolishly presenting any prey to the ravenous predators apparently surrounding you. You are entirely spared any actual substantive negative response.

And what does this actual substantive negative response constitute? My momentous realization is, or at least should be, that extremely little. I have told myself before that I am not the sum of people's reactions to me, but I seem to have neglected to appreciate how often and how comprehensively I make this mistake. I suppose most people do, but I don't think that to quite the same extent as I.

Where most people would be seriously shaken if somebody they knew came up to them and said they thought they were a bad person, I would be similarly shaken if in reaction to me someone expressed mild annoyance, boredom, confusion, embarrassment, or just suggested in any way that he had been slightly inconvenienced. I'm not kidding.

It's this idea that how people react to me is actually what defines me as a human being. That if they say something's wrong with me then it is. I seem for some reason to be convinced that they know something that I don't. I suppose that's my epiphany in a nutshell: they don't. If you are in disagreement with another over yourself, assume you're right until presented with an actual argument.


  1. Ooh, this will be fun.

    Tell me if I've got this straight: you see a person who doesn't really pay any attention to you, and assume he doesn't like you. So you respond by not paying attention to him, assuming that he'll understand that you don't like him. You're left feeling uncomfortable, so now you're deciding not to pay so much attention to other people's attention to you.

    But there's no attention there to begin with. I bet you the other side has no opinion about you at all.

    Here's an alternate suggestion: why not try being friendly? Trying to find feedback when you've done nothing to earn it seems a bit silly.

  2. That's not exactly it. It's about not imagining attention that doesn't exist, keeping in mind that if any actual negative attention does come along, it won't mean as much as I tend to think it will.

    I can try and be friendly simultaneously. I actually do most of the time, along with my habit of paying people the least attention possible. Trying to be friendly is kind of stripped of its meaning when you're actually bewilderingly deeply terrified. It's all bloody weird.