Friday, April 12, 2019

Transgressions vs. Sins and Differences in Motivations

This was also sent to me by a reader, and I found it to be a pretty interesting and valid distinction between the dark triads sociopathy, narcissism, and machiavellianism. I think that people can be surprised at why people do the things that they do. For instance, once sociopath recently told me about how when she was 21 years old, she got a job at a bar so she could get better tips than at her previous restaurant job. She only lasted two weekends because she was giving away free drinks (she says she grossly underestimated their ability to track alcohol sales) and stealing tips from other servers. I immediately related to this a sort of naïvety about the world, a childlike innocence.

I told this story to a lawyer friend of mine and immediately likened it to the way I was with my first law job, in which I exploited some of the weaknesses of that system in similar sorts of ways and ways that were equally unappreciated by my employers. My friend was scandalized by the free drinks and tip stealing, but responded to my story "who hasn't done that?" I thought this was an interesting response. Why? Is it just stealing from the server's? But a lot of servers split tips because of things like some people getting better areas of the restaurant, etc. In fact, this was exactly what was happening to the sociopath server. But my friend thought that my sketchiness was totally normal, and even that my employer probably had it coming or that was just part of the employment deal, whereas she was disturbed by the other story and thought there couldn't be any other explanation for the behavior other than maliciousness and greed.

I kept trying to give her different analogies to help her understand that it was really malicious, and wasn't even really this overwhelming sense of greed, so much as a childish way of exploiting things. I remember once being at Disneyland when I was aged 8 or 9. I was old enough to realize that lines were long and thought of the lines more like a multilane freeway than a static order of things, so I kept pushing forward in line until these people got very angry at me and said that no matter my physical position ahead of them, they were going to still ride the lines before me. Mine was a breach of a rule, yes, but I don't see it as a moral failing.

My theology has a word for the breach without moral failing, "transgression". You have transgressed a law, although you may not have necessarily sinned because you didn't have a sinful heart (so to speak) when you did the thing. Although cutting ahead of people in line did hurt others, and that was clear to me, I didn't understand it to be an unfair hurt. When I get off the plane and walk faster than others to the customs lines, that's also sort of like cutting in line, but we don't think of it that way. We don't have a sense of the line starting from the moment of the plane, so it's a fair exploitation of the system. It of course is hurting others, people for instance who have young children or a disability and cannot walk as fast and have to perhaps wait longer in line than I do. Or I may use scarce resources before others do. I'm going to camp at a location this summer that requires a permit. By me using the spot, someone else is not able to use that spot. That also is prioritizing myself at the expense of others.

I don't know. I have a strong sense of there being a distinction in the transgression behaviors that sociopaths engage in at the expense of others in which there's not really an intent to harm (even though there is an understanding that there will be harm), so there's no malice, vs. the sort of behavior that one might correctly classify sin.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Better communication/intimacy during sex

A sociopathic inclined individual sent me a link to an Aeon article about good communication/consent re sexual intimacy, Sex Talks. One thing that I have noticed in meeting sociopaths is that sociopaths show a shocking lack of interest in sex. Shocking I guess only when compared to the neurotypical population, which seems almost obsessed with it. Sociopaths on the other hand are very take-it-or-leave-it about sex. I think it's because sociopaths don't tend to connect emotionally with their partners very well and so sex is either a performative act (which can be fun and exciting depending on the partner and/or situation) or source of pleasure that most sociopaths are better able to provide with their own two hands (and/or feet?). I also think that sociopaths and everyone have a hard time understanding the role of continued consent during any interaction with a person.

A quick word on my own thoughts about sex. I have had plenty of bad experiences, probably not surprising. By bad experiences I mean experiences that seemed to cheapen rather than deepen a relationship, that made me feel used, that felt like a parallel experience, and even experiences where I feel like the lines of consent got blurred against me. I had a bad understanding of consent for a long time so I am sure that people have similar experiences with me. Now, I do not engage in any degree of physical anything with another person unless I am sure that there is consent and that it is a shared experience of love and affection. It's not hard to be very hardline about this because I otherwise care very little for physical affection. But since I have been this way, I experience everything so differently and it really does seem to have more meaning and pleasure for me that I couldn't recreate more efficiently in a solo experience.

I remember in law school studying rape and the Antioch College rules regarding consent, which require not just all sexual or physical activities to have consent, but that anytime a new element is introduced between individuals. Even when I went to law school in the early aughts, this was considered a little bit extremist, as was evidenced by the SNL skit making fun of it (transcript here). 

Antioch College SOPP Media Coverage from Jon Wohlfert on Vimeo.

But Google "Antioch College sex consent" and you'll see a bunch of fresh takes about how the Antioch College Womyn were more prescient than we had thought. Maybe and romance and these things that we think should just be a natural, organic, but most of all unspoken meeting of the minds. I remember growing up thinking that this is what people wanted and expected, but I also had a really hard time understanding subtext or other forms of unspoken communication reliably so I would often just propose whatever physical intimacy to people whenever I felt like it. They would be surprised and almost embarrassed, but I don't remember being turned down, so maybe they were trying to get at the same thing via subtext?

But now I'm super verbal and communicative all of the time during any sort of romantic or intimate situation whatsoever, and it is such a better experience. I wanted to suggest it to everyone. Sometimes I'll get a little quite, and it's always for some reason worse. It is so much easier to stay on the same page with people by asking short simple questions (credit Arthur, a sociopath I met) and trying to say something every minute or so or as things change up. Maybe give it a try?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

I, Tonya and loving to hate Tonya Harding

I’m late the party but really glad I watched I, Tonya on the plane recently. I remember following figure skating at the time and really admiring Tonya Harding for her skating style, athleticism, and maverick attitude. After her last performance at the Olympics I remember just losing track of her. I don’t think I was even aware that she had been charged or convicted of anything.

When the movie came out I remember there being some bad press about how they were basically exploiting Nancy Kerrigan. Or that it somehow desecrated Nancy Kerrigan to tell the story? And I kind of assumed because people said this that they had watched the film and Tonya comes off pretty badly in it but also like the film was glorifying her badness. I remember Margot Robie thanking Tonya in an awards speech and sort of being surprised that she would engage with that controversy, that she hadn’t just seen Tonya the same way that an actor who had played Hitler think about Hitler – like thanks for the subject matter and the gritty character, but morally distancing herself from Tonya.
But I’m typing this on this 14+ hour flight (uf) and only watched the show because I basically have seen all of the other somewhat appealing movies. I was so entertained, though. Edge of my seat entertained. For those of you who haven’t watched it, the show is all based on interviews they had done with the parties recently. Then the actors reinact those interviews. So you’re getting some he said she said and probably getting some foggy memories, but I was surprised at how likable Tonya came off, at least to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised because I found her likable when I was younger and she basically is the same person. There’s no secret dark dark side of her that was this ruthless predator that would hire a hit on a competitor or anything. And her relationship with her husband who did order what he thought was just going to be intimidation via letter was much more complex than I had understood. Even the husband apologizes at the end and admits that he ruined her career and but for him none of it would have happened.

And now that I am older, it just seems so much more human and unfortunate, but not at all black and white morally. Not just morally gray to my eyes, but I was really surprised that anyone would have posted what they did saying that it was overly glamorizing Tonya and bad behavior.

Some of the more interesting quotes, and I wish I had access to the internet to find them but I’ll paraphrase, are when Tonya says that she was abused not just by her first husband, but that we all abused her too by harassing her and having the press hound her and ruining her life. We also abused her. Man, I feel that. I feel part of that when my curiosity for prurient details pops up and I feel that when I see people crowd shame people in this very black and white way for what appears to be gray and much-more-complex-than-they-seem situations. And it’s not necessary and it’s not helpful. Who does it help for us to watch Tonya television and hate her. What useful purpose does it serve? Her husband Jeff was able to change his life and start over, thankfully in the era before internet social warriors would have doxed him. What use is it to dox someone like him? What war are these warrior’s fighting? They remind me of antifa – their version of solution is worse than the problem.
That’s the second quote I like from Tonya. She says that America loves to have people to love. And they also love to have people to hate. But what sort of itch is that scratching for you America? And how is that need to have people to love and/or hate being used against you by manipulators in media, commerce, and politics? It’s basically like a drug America, you’re an addict, and it’s not a victimless crime.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Shanghai, Singapore, and Malaysia

Hey friends! I'm going to be gone the rest of the month in Shanghai, Singapore, and Malaysia. If you're also going to be there this month and want to meet up, email me and let me know.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Texas and Louisiana next week

Reminder that I'll be in Southern/Southeastern Texas and Louisiana next week. Let me know if you want to meet up. 
Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

.

Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.