The New Ghost Protocol
I recently committed a faux pas.
I'm not sure what it was, but a friend quit talking to me.
They call it ghosting. The complete, permanent shutdown of all communication. Boom, stick a fork in it, you're done.
Ghosting is phucked up. People who ghost don't understand that this is exactly what the problem is:
Whenever we disagree, we pick up our toys and leave.
When, instead, conversation is exactly what the world needs, and I'm talkin' about the full Communication Model, not just transmission, but reception, too. We gotta listen. And I mean really listen. With checking for understanding.
That's the first layer of my thinking on this.
The next layer down is people getting offended and indignant. I suppose it's true that modern life has so bombarded us with sensory input, we've had to narrow our attention, just as a matter of survival. And I suppose it's understandable that people would experience a narrowing of their beliefs. It just seems too bad to me that that narrowing process includes the sense of humor.
Indignation is phucked up. Oh, I used to wield my share of indignation. Convinced that I was right, I would explode, verbally, as my indignation raged. One of two things would then happen—either I'd become exceedingly embarrassed by my outburst and shrink away to some place of hiding...or I'd lie to myself, tell myself whatever it took to maintain my rightness and ruminate, for days, sometimes weeks, nursing a phucking grudge the whole time. What did I gain from the experience? I've heard that holding such feelings—anger, self-righteousness, hubris—can make one physically ill. I'm talking, like, the big C.
If that's true, it's a wonder I’m still alive.
I got over myself. It was easy, once the whole concept of knowledge collapsed for me. Once I tore up my contract with Knowledge, I became a lot less self-righteous. See, without knowledge, there's no such thing as being right. Let go of knowledge, let go of defending your knowledge. No reason to argue—I either know the truth or I don't. In which case it is perfectly acceptable to say, "I don't know". Say it with a smile.
Every time you find yourself in conflict, you can challenge your knowledge and totally diffuse the negativity. You might have to challenge your beliefs! To a rigorous assessment of whether your belief aligns with the truth. I found that many, if not most, of my beliefs could not be supported with anything close to evidence.
Hey, wait a minute. Maybe that was my offense. The person that I offended is quite the conspiracy theorist. He believes many things that I would regard as…unfounded. But see, all that is is the Fallacy of Being Right all over again. I have to challenge myself, my position, my beliefs. I don't believe that what the country is experiencing is the aftermath of radiation—as opposed to a biological agent such as the coronavirus.
I can't see either. For all of my powers of observation I can't see radiation or a virus, so how could I honestly dispute him?
The fact is, I never did. I've learned how to be neutral in this world. I've learned how not to care as much, particularly about things. People, eh, I think I’m actually more compassionate than the next guy.
One truth is: everything is relative. So whenever somone makes a judgement they are doing so within their own universe of Knowledge. What is good in this culture is bad in that one. Wrong and right slip slide around, depending on the society. What was once laughable is now criminal. Time and perspective are naturally warped by the fact that everything is relative.
And, what will it matter in fifty years? I mean, there's lots of ways to undo a grudge. A little forgiveness goes a long way. And even if you know the truth about something and nobody else does…you can still coexist. You don't have to beat anybody over the head with your knowledge.
Reminds me…I once was riding in a car with a guy in Illinois. We were in the countryside, and there was a lot of corn. Everywhere you looked, giant stocks of corn. No mountains, nothing to serve as a landmark. We were going from one small town to another and the driver had decided to take a 'shortcut'. Before he knew it, he was lost. Which caused him to start freaking out. I on the other hand, was calm. See, the driver was lost. I was not. I knew precisely where we were.
Same for my current situation. My (ex) friend seems to think I've committed some unforgiveable mistake. Cool. They may be lost, in a maze of false beliefs and delusions...but I know right where I am.